Australia, Japan to explore use of carbon dioxide for carbon fibre

The potential use of carbon dioxide for the manufacture of high-value products is the subject of a Memorandum of Cooperation between Matt Canavan, Minister for Resources and Northern Australia, and Isshu Sugawara, Japanese Minister for Economy, Trade and Industry.

The memorandum will spur research into developing technologies which can not only capture and store carbon dioxide but turn the gas into an ingredient for the manufacture of products such as carbon fibre, which could be used in the construction and agricultural sectors.

The technology could allow for the continued use of fossil fuels, without this major exhaust gas being emitted into the atmosphere, said Canavan.

“Successfully using carbon dioxide as a resource, rather than viewing it merely as a waste product, could transform the economics of emissions reduction.”

The method for producing carbon fibres from carbon dioxide was first pioneered in 2015, by scientists in the US, who run a current through a tank filled with molten salt, which absorbs atmospheric carbon dioxide and allows carbon fibres to form at an electrode. At the time, the method could produce 10g of carbon fibre an hour.

Efforts undertaken by Japan and Australia could scale up this technology or find alternatives for the commercial production of carbon fibre from carbon dioxide.

In addition, with carbon dioxide abundant, the commercial production of carbon fibre from the compound could reduce the cost of carbon fibre and allow the material to be used in a range of applications.

Citing the importance of energy reliability, security, and access as well as the need to reduce emissions, Canavan highlighted that the development of this technology is a shared aim of Australia and Japan.

“That is why our two countries are committed to investigating new ways of achieving efficient and effective use of fossil fuels,” said Canavan.