Oak Ridge National Laboratory Carbon Fiber Facility

The Department of Energy (DOE)’s Carbon Fiber Technology Facility (CFTF) located in Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) accommodates a state-of-the art process line.

Carbon Fiber Technology Facility. Courtesy of Oak Ridge National Laboratory

Figure 1. Carbon Fiber Technology Facility. Courtesy of Oak Ridge National Laboratory

Image Credit: Harper

This 390ft/118m process line was supplied by Harper International, who secured the DOE contract because of its capability to design, develop, set up, and commission a fully integrated carbon fiber process line.

Carbon Fiber Process Line

Designed as one of the most advanced lines in the industry, the CFTF facility (Figure 1) aspires to be a collaborative research center. The process line is highly flexible and demonstrates sophisticated technology scalability. It serves as a key hub prior to commercial production scale and generates market-development volumes of perfect carbon fibers.

Harper designed the process line to serve as a suitable outlet for research and development on carbon fiber. The line includes custom unit operation configuration and has a capacity of up to 4.3kg/hour or 25 tons/year.

This enables the industry to verify conversion of carbon fiber precursors right at the semi- production scale itself.

Capabilities of Carbon Fiber Line

Harper’s process line has been configured for PAN, lignin, polyolefins, and pitch precursors and has a rated capacity of 25 tons/year based on 24k PAN tows.

The line can be upgraded for rayon and high-modulus carbon fibers. Versatile internal design all through the line enables material processing in either web or tow formats. The line is designed for web up to 300mm wide x 12.7mm loft and 3k to 80k tows; internals have excellent corrosion resistance for alternative precursors.

In addition, the process line provides improved velocity uniformity and range and ensures temperature uniformity at a variety of flow rates. It is optimized for rapid oxidation through elimination of the chimney effect and includes driven pass-back rollers to prevent slip at low loading. The line also includes oxidation temperatures to 400°C with airflow configurable for cross, down, or parallel flow.

Other features include high-temperature carbonization to 2000°C and low-temperature carbonization up to 1000°C with an ability to generate micro/nano-porous or structural fibers. A post-treatment system ensures fibers’ compatibility with commodity or performance resins.

Process Scale Up and Optimization Services

Harper provides complete systems for all stages of carbon fiber processing and supports its customers with a unique range of services and capabilities to keep them at the forefront of the carbon fiber industry.

Services include process scale up and optimization expertise, piloting facilities for client testing and trialing, energy audits and generational efficiency improvements, operational and engineering services, continual advancement of core technologies, complete range of lines from research and scientific scale to piloting to full production scale, and comprehensive technical support and maintenance.


Harper is capable of supporting the increasing needs of the carbon fiber market. The company’s skilled and experienced technical staff works with ORNL’s Carbon Fiber Technology Facility and other pilot and testing centers across the globe to support clients’ testing and piloting needs.

About Harper International

Harper International is a global leader in complete thermal processing solutions, as well as technical services essential for the production of advanced materials.From concept to commercialization, from research scale to full production line operations, Harper is perpetually on the cutting edge. For decades, we have pioneered some of the world’s most innovative, customized systems, with a focus on processing materials at high temperatures and in non-ambient atmospheres.

Harper’s value proposition is unequaled — decades of industry experience, a highly specialized, multi-talented group of employees, and a passion for partnership. We don’t shoehorn a standard line of products to fit our customers’ requirements. We specialize in first-of-a-kind solutions using our exceptional depth and breadth of knowledge. Harper’s culture is one of genuine ingenuity and creativity, which ensures we are constantly challenging ourselves to craft the best-engineered technology solution for our customers’ unique thermal processing needs.

This information has been sourced, reviewed and adapted from materials provided by Harper International.

For more information on this source, please visit Harper International.


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