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Speaker Interview with Philip R. Barnett

Ahead of GOCarbonFibre 2023, we spoke to Philip R. Barnett, Assistant Research Professor of Clean Manufacturing at University of Tennessee-Oak Ridge Innovation Institute.

Q: You are going to be presenting on "Recycled carbon fibre composites for crashworthy automotive structures" please could you give a quick overview of what you will be sharing with the audience?

The progressive failure of fibre-reinforced composites absorbs significantly more energy per unit of structural mass than common automotive metals, making them a strong candidate for crashworthy structures. However, the high cost and limited supply of carbon fibre reinforcement has hindered mass market adoption. In my presentation, I will show that low-cost crashworthy automotive composites can be produced from recycled carbon fibre to reduce waste in the already tight supply chain and overcome misconceptions around that inferiority of recycled products.

Q: How is the industry overcoming some of the challenges?

There is a growing recognition that waste reduction/recovery and end-of-life recyclability will be paramount to the future adoption of carbon fibre composites by the automotive and renewable energy generation industries. This has led to the creation of several innovative companies who have partnered closely with existing composite manufacturers to find new life for their waste streams and spent parts. The next step to closing the loop on composites sustainability is the development of high value products from these newly recovered material supplies.

Q: How does the carbon fibre industry market look today?

The carbon fibre industry is growing at a breakneck pace, held back primarily by constraints in material supply, manufacturing throughout, and the high cost of reinforcement. Many of these problems are being addressed in academic circles and through private-public partnerships, which will lead to tremendous innovation this decade, perhaps dwarfing the innovation of the past 50+ years in the carbon fibre industry.

Q: Why do you feel it is important for people to attend GOCarbonFibre this year?

Conferences like GOCarbonFibre provide an outlet for industry and academia to share their recent innovations and generate new ideas. Such events set the course of the industry and are vital to future success.