Harper International, a provider of thermal processing solutions for advanced materials, has been awarded a contract to engineer and manufacture a pitch carbon fiber stabilization mesh belt oven system to be installed at the University of Kentucky’s Center for Applied Energy Research (CAER), located in Lexington, Kentucky. The equipment delivery and start-up services are scheduled within 2022.

This scientific-scale equipment will be used by researchers at University of Kentucky to convert mesophase pitch, a liquid crystal derived from coal tar, into an oxidized carbon fiber precursor material. CAER’s research and investigation into coal-derived precursor material processes aims to lower the cost of producing high quality carbon fibers by over 50%, enabling application into widespread use such as automotive composite materials.

“The oxidation oven system is a critical piece of our fiber development facility at CAER,” said Matt Weisenberger, associate director of the Carbon Materials Technologies Group.

“Harper is pleased to support the University of Kentucky’s research into alternative carbon fiber precursor materials with our advanced thermal processing solutions. We expect the research conducted using the Harper oxidation oven system will help validate the advantages of lower raw material cost and higher yields offered by coal-pitch based carbon fibers.” said Paul Elwell, Harper VP of sales and marketing

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