Non-Conventional Carbon Fiber and Polymer Oxidation

National Laboratory: 
Oak Ridge National Laboratory
Processing/Manufacturing Class: 
Fabrication and synthesis
Thermo-mechanical processing

ORNL facilitates conventional and advanced stabilization and oxidation of carbon fiber precursor. The plasma-based advanced oxidation technology for carbon fiber precursor was jointly developed between ORNL and RMX Technologies. Initial science and development began at ORNL and has now transitioned to commercialization at RMX Technologies.

Capability Bounds: 

The Precursor Evaluation System can process a maximum of one tow up to 50,000 filaments (non-continuous mode). The Pilot Line can process a maximum of four tows (up to 50,000 filaments per tow). The Plasma Oxidation Pilot Line can process a maximum of four tows (up to 50,000 filaments per tow) or one large tow up to 300,000 filaments.

Unique Aspects: 

Over many years, plasma oxidation technology was developed and has proven to be two to three times faster than conventional oxidation for a variety of precursor materials. It has been demonstrated to use 75% less energy and lower manufacturing costs by 20%. It is a stable process that produces fiber with properties equal to conventional processing.


ORNL has a Precursor Evaluation System that can evaluate low size tows (1-1000 filaments) in the full conventional conversion process. It consists of individual components, capable of mimicking any conversion stage of carbon fiber manufacturing. ORNL also has a 1-ton pilot line for the full conventional conversion process in continuous mode up to four tows.

A 1-ton plasma oxidation oven is installed and operational at RMX Technologies and is available to evaluate different precursors (up to four 50-k tows or up to one large tow).

Single Point of Contact: 

Dr. Felix Paulauskas, Senior Carbon Fiber Researcher,, 865-576-3785

  1. Paulauskas, F. L. (presenter); Bonds, T. A. (June 2015) 'Advanced Oxidation & Stabilization of PAN-Based Carbon Precursor Fibers.' Presented at the 2015 U.S. Department of Energy Hydrogen and Fuel Cells Program and Vehicle Technologies Office Annual Merit Review and Peer Evaluation Meeting, Washington, DC.
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