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Composites Industry News

News for August 2007


Brookhouse Paxford Changes Name to Paxford Composites

22nd August 2007 0 comments

Brookhouse Paxford of Huntingdon in the UK has changed its name to Paxford Composites, completing the separation of the company from Brookhouse Holdings following a successful management buy-out in 2006. Paxford Composites have appointed Glenn Ford as Managing Director of the company with Robert Keegan as Financial Director. Glenn Ford commented, “the company was successfully bought out of the Brookhouse Holdings group over a year ago. Following a busy year of reorganisation and consolidation we are now pleased to complete our transition with the change of name and launch of a new identity. Paxford Composites will focus on growth, spring boarding from strong core competences and a commitment to implement new processes and systems both at manufacturing and management levels. The company is in a strong position to develop both new and existing markets and the appointment of Adam Black as Business Development Manager is our latest commitment to growth.” Paxford Composites has manufactured moulded components for over 40 years and has a wealth of experience within the 70 strong workforce employed in Huntingdon, Cambridgeshire.

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Boy Scouts to Attend Composites & Polycon 2007

22nd August 2007 0 comments

When thousands of composites manufacturers, suppliers and consultants converge on the Tampa Convention Center for Composites & Polycon 2007, among these industry professionals will be 75 Boy Scouts of America. These young men will attend the conference and trade show as part of the ACMA’s “Think Composites” outreach program for students. Initiated in 2006, the primary goals of the “”Think Composites”” program are to introduce students to the composites industry, explain the fundamentals of the chemical processes involved, and encourage them to explore composites materials more on their own. Attending the show on Friday, October 19th, the 75 Scouts will be divided into three groups where they will begin the program with a brief introductory session, followed by an exhibit hall tour. The 2007 program will also contain a hands-on component in which the Scouts will learn to make composite fins for model rockets. Working in small groups, they will laminate the fins and wait for a cure. Each Scout will then be given the materials to take home and complete his own rocket, along with the custom patches they will have earned. Additionally, ACMA is working with the Society for the Plastics Industry (SPI) PlastiVan to offer even more educational hands-on activities for the Scouts than in 2006. The PlastiVan is a mobile polymer laboratory, enabling students to conduct fun and informative plastics experiments. ACMA is pleased to host the PlastiVan at the annual conference each year, exposing local students to the fundamentals of polymer science. “We are very excited to build upon ACMA’s partnership with the Boy Scouts of America begun in 2006,” says ACMA President John Tickle. “We sincerely believe that having the composites industry reach out to students is one of the best things we can do to foster long-term interest in composites, helping to grow a pool of qualified composites professionals for the future.” “By introducing the possibilities of composites to students in middle school and high school, ACMA is planting the seeds of exploration and innovation in the future,” Tickle continues. “These efforts will benefit both the students themselves and ACMA’s member companies who must compete with so many other industries for qualified workers.”

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Hexcel to Provide Carbon Fibre for USEC's American Centrifuge Plant

22nd August 2007 0 comments

Hexcel has agreed with USEC and Alliant Techsystems to supply carbon fibre required for USEC’s planned American Centrifuge Plant (ACP) for the enrichment of uranium for commercial nuclear power reactors. The centrifuge method of enrichment will use over 11,500 rotor tubes and is more cost effective than the alternative gas diffusion enrichment process. Traditionally the rotors were made of aluminum alloy, steel or fibreglass, but switching to stronger and lighter weight carbon fibre allows for increased efficiency. In September 2006 ATK announced that it had started demonstration and qualification work on composite rotor tubes for the ACP. USEC received a Nuclear Regulatory Commission license to construct the ACP in April 2007. Hexcel currently estimates that carbon fibre sales for the initial 3.8 million separative work units (SWU) plant will be approximately $100 million starting in late 2008, with the majority of deliveries likely to be in the 2010 and 2011 depending on USEC and ATK’s manufacturing schedule. The agreement contemplates that USEC also may purchase significant quantities of additional carbon fibre product needed for the ACP. Mr. David E. Berges, Hexcel’s Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, said “”Hexcel is very pleased to be part of the USEC project which has the potential for additional production to follow. We also welcome this opportunity to reinforce our long standing relationship as a supplier to ATK. We previously announced that we are targeting increasing the penetration of our carbon fibre into high-end industrial applications, and the USEC application complements this strategy. Our capacity additions for carbon fibre will be capable of supporting both aerospace and this segment of the industrial market interchangeably.””

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Helping the Carbon Nanotube Industry Avoid Mistakes of the Past

22nd August 2007 0 comments

A new analysis of by-products discharged to the environment during production of carbon nanotubes (CNTs) has identified cancer-causing compounds, air pollutants, and other substances of concern, researchers reported at the 234th national meeting of the American Chemical Society. Study co-author Desirée L. Plata and colleagues described their work as “totally new,” noting that past analyses of the environmental impact of the emerging nanomaterials industry have been based on the toxicity of ingredients used in the recipes, rather than the actual pollutants formed during CNT manufacture. While expressing concern about the possible health and environmental effects of nanotechnology by-products, Plata said the new data may be crucial as the nanotechnology industry seeks to avoid the kind of unanticipated health and environmental problems that have accompanied emergence of other new technology. Researchers said, for instance, that they foresee developing, in collaboration with the CNT industry, “green chemical” reactions and filtration systems to substitute for those with potentially hazardous by-products and other ways of manufacturing carbon nanotubes that minimize potentially adverse impacts. “Without this work, the environmental and health impacts of the carbon nanotube industry could be severe and costly to repair,” said Plata, a doctoral student in chemical oceanography at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. “We would like to help it develop in an environmentally sustainable fashion.” Recent experiences with other industrial pollutants underscore the need to try to improve nanotube manufacturing methods before serious problems arise, said Plata. These pollutants include Freon refrigerants, the gasoline additive methyl t-butyl ether (MTBE), flame retardants like polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs), and the surfactant perfluoroctane sulfanate (PFOS), she noted. Her collaborators include graduate advisor Christopher M. Reddy, Ph.D., of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Woods Hole, Mass. and Philip M. Gschwend, Ph.D., of MIT. Carbon nanotubes, submicroscopic cylinders of carbon that are thousands of times smaller in diameter than the width a single human hair, possess characteristics not found in their larger, bulk counterparts, including enhanced strength and high electrical conductivity. Studies by other scientists have shown that carbon nanotubes, which come in many sizes and shapes, can damage the lungs of mice, but their exact risk to human health remains unknown. Even less is known about the potential effects of the by-products of nanotube production, the researchers said. To evaluate the emission products formed during nanotube production, Plata and her associates utilized a small-scale device to simulate “chemical vapor deposition,” one of the main methods for making CNTs. Using a carbon vapor source, the researchers produced CNTs and analyzed chemical by-products from the reaction. They found at least 15 aromatic hydrocarbons, including four different kinds of toxic polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) similar to those found in cigarette smoke and automobile tailpipe emissions. The most harmful PAH identified was benzo[a]pyrene, a known human carcinogen, the researchers said. They also saw release of other hydrocarbons that can contribute to smog formation and can trigger the formation of ozone in the lower atmosphere, which can in turn cause respiratory problems in humans, Plata said. “If nanotubes are produced in the tons, there will also be tons of PAHs produced,” Plata notes. She said that the key solution to the problem may also be to employ special filters or ‘scrubbers’ in the production process to reduce the formation of harmful by-products. Another possible solution is to develop new nanotube manufacturing processes that produce fewer toxins, said Plata, who notes that the research team is currently working with four of the major nanotube producers in the United States to help develop strategies to make production more environmentally friendly. CNTs are already produced on a small industrial scale, and the researchers plan to measure actual emissions at several industrial sites in the near future to get a clearer picture of real-world pollutant emissions.

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Eco-Friendly Brake Pads Promise Greener Transport

22nd August 2007 0 comments

Brake pads can now be made more sustainably using renewable crops, as STI research has shown how natural fibre such as hemp can replace costly aramid fibre with no loss of performance and less impact on the environment. Brake pads are one of the key components in the race to develop greener transport, with 80 million sets used in the UK every year. Since the use of asbestos was phased out in the 1980s, most have been formulated using man-made aramid fibres. They also incorporate significant amounts of heavy metal compounds. Around 20,000 tonnes of dust containing these materials are discharged into the environment as the pads wear. Now research into eco-friendly brake pads, backed by the Sustainable Technologies Initiative, has shown how a switch to natural fibres such as hemp, which can be grown in the UK, could offer a more sustainable solution. In the Ecopad project, researchers demonstrated how renewable fibres could reduce reliance on synthetic materials and allow heavy metal constituents to be replaced with safer alternatives. The outcome is expected to provide up-to-date solutions to the global transport industry and its friction material supply base. ‘Our STI research promises the creation of an important future application and new market for natural fibre crops,’ says project leader Dr Luke Savage of the University of Exeter. ‘Ecopad offers a win-win solution because it combines greener transport with greatly reduced costs for friction product manufacturers. With no loss of braking performance, the attractions are obvious and there has already been a great deal of interest from manufacturers and the public.’ Following positive test results, commercial development is going ahead, initially for the railway industry. The main end users, EFI, are particularly interested in exploiting the use of hemp in train brakes. Customers in Norway and other parts of Europe want to remove the use of sintered metal brakes that result in heavy metals getting into the environment. Interest is also expected from operators of underground and metro lines because of health concerns over airborne brake dust in enclosed spaces. The Ecopad research brought together the team from the University of Exeter’s Advanced Technologies Department, X-At, and a consortium of industrial partners representing brake pad manufacturers, suppliers and end users. It was supported by the DTI (now DBERR) through the STI programme. STI research aims to improve the sustainability of UK business, achieving economic growth and employment while safeguarding the environment and conserving natural resources. The researchers demonstrated how hemp fibre can be technically enhanced and processed to replace a significant proportion of synthetic fibres and resins. Experiments showed the new blends offered the same frictional performance as pads made using pure aramid fibre. The natural materials could cut production costs by significant margin. ‘Aramid fibre costs 20-30 times more than hemp fibre and it stands out as by far the most expensive ingredient that goes to make up a brake pad,’ explains Dr Savage. ‘It can also be hard to get hold of in the quantities required by the friction industry. When you are talking about a train brake block, which is very much larger than a car brake pad, then the figures really start to add up.’ The winning formulation contains hemp fibre processed to enhance its performance combined with a new environmentally friendly lubricant, Enviro-Lube™, produced by one of the project partners, PBW Metal Products Ltd. The new material, which avoids the use of heavy metals, was also developed with STI support in the Tibrake project. Based on a tin compound, it offers an alternative to lead and antimony friction modifiers, which are associated with health concerns. Results clearly indicate that disc pads for the VW Golf made using the Ecopad formulation readily achieved the required level of performance. The researchers found they could easily match the results of the benchmark formula containing aramid fibre and antimony trisulphide. The first disc pads for cars have already been on show to the public at the 2007 ‘Sexy Green Car Show’ at the Eden Project. The technology offers a solution that could be available off the shelf should future legislation affect the use of heavy metals such as antimony and lead, or raise concerns over dust from aramid fibres. ‘There is undoubtedly a viable market for cars as well,’ says Dr Savage. ‘All our testing was directed at car braking systems from the outset, where the experimental materials developed gave comparable frictional performance. Manufacturers want to be in a position where they have got a sustainable product they can immediately use to replace conventional materials if necessary.’

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Major Expansion of Airtech Plant Facilities

22nd August 2007 0 comments

Airtech International has expanded its USA facilities with the addition of a 140,000 sq. ft (13,000 sq. m.) distribution facility located in Chino, California.

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ATK Receives Contract for Ares I First Stage

22nd August 2007 0 comments

Alliant Techsystems has received a $1.8 billion contract for the design, development, test and evaluation of the first stage of NASA’s next-generation human space flight vehicle – the Ares I. The multi-year development contract extends through June 2013 and includes flight tests beginning in 2009. Follow-on human flights are scheduled for no later than 2014, and production hardware for those flights will be developed under a separate contract expected after 2010. Ares I is a major element of the new space transportation infrastructure being developed by NASA to carry out the next steps in America’s space exploration roadmap. It will replace the Space Shuttle as NASA’s human spaceflight workhorse and will launch a new generation of human explorers to the International Space Station (ISS), the Moon, and eventually to Mars. “”Our entire team is fully committed to supporting NASA as we work together to build this new launch vehicle for the future,”” said Ron Dittemore, President, ATK Launch Systems Group. “”Ares I has tremendous capabilities for cargo and human transportation to low earth orbit, and with the built-in heritage of the Apollo and Shuttle programs, it will be the most reliable launch vehicle ever developed.”” In December 2005, NASA named ATK as the prime contractor to design and develop the Ares I first stage. Ares I will launch NASA’s new Orion crew exploration vehicle which carries a crew of up to six astronauts on missions to and from the ISS. Orion is capable of carrying a crew of four on lunar missions. The first stage consists of a five-segment solid rocket booster, similar to the four-segment boosters used for Space Shuttle launches. The fifth segment increases the thrust of the launch vehicle, but has been designed to fire for a similar timeframe as the space shuttle solid rocket boosters — approximately two minutes. The contract also includes systems engineering and related stage elements such as: structures, thrust vector control, avionics, ordnance, the separation system, and deceleration system. “”Over the past year, ATK and NASA have worked closely to achieve significant program milestones and we are pleased to announce that the project is right on track,”” said Mike Kahn, Vice President, ATK Space Launch Systems. “”At the project level, we have completed the System Requirements Reviews (SRR) and have made excellent progress toward the Ares I-X test flight.”” The first stage of the Ares I crew launch vehicle is being designed and developed by ATK at its facilities in Utah, with the assistance of a nationwide subcontractor team.

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Peter Morgan – Death of Carbon Fibre Materials Pioneer

22nd August 2007 0 comments

Many in the carbon fibre and composites world will be saddened to learn of the sudden death on 2 August 2007 of Peter Morgan at the age of 75. Always a dedicated technical professional throughout his long career with Courtaulds and RK Technologies, Morgan became involved in carbon fibres from their very early beginnings in the 1960’s, and was highly influential in enabling Courtaulds to take forward the laboratory scale process, licensed from NRDC/RAE, to successful commercial production. He was an accomplished all-round scientist with an equal grasp of carbon fibres process chemistry and composites engineering. For almost three decades at Courtaulds, Morgan played a leading role in the technical and manufacturing development of carbon fibres and also provided the core of the technological relationships that ensued with partners including Hercules (now Hexcel Fibres) in the US and Mitsubishi Rayon in Japan. In addition he was involved in establishing many of the industry standards and testing methods for carbon fibres. In 1991 he moved to RK Carbon, now SGL, where he continued to make an important contribution, both to the company’s commercial position and the wider industry, until to his retirement in 1996. In retirement Morgan kept up to date with the industry and his book, Carbon Fibers and their Composites, published in 2005 encapsulates his great wisdom and experience in the field of carbon fibres. It is an excellent historical record and an important practical guide as well as being a thoroughly good read. Standing 6’4”, and affectionately known as Moggy, he was never afraid to speak his mind, especially if he disagreed with a particular point of view. However this was always gently counterbalanced by a keen sense of humour and the wonderful ability not to take situations and himself too seriously. He is survived by his second wife Doris, daughter Deborah, stepson Ian and two other children, Andrew and Sally, from an earlier marriage. Peter Ernest Morgan (1931-2007)

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Lola Group Selects Altair’s HyperWorks CAE Software

22nd August 2007 0 comments

Lola Group has chosen Altair’s HyperWorks computer-aided engineering (CAE) suite of advanced software to streamline their product design process.

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Bayer MaterialScience Cooperates with FutureCarbon

22nd August 2007 0 comments

Bayer MaterialScience recently won FutureCarbon GmbH as a cooperation partner for its Baytubes activities, to manufacture aqueous nano dispersions using a new dispersion process for which a patent has been filed.

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