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Method and Apparatus for Three-Dimensional Carbon Fiber Production

DOE Grant Recipients

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Technology Marketing Summary

UCF researchers have discovered a method for producing three-dimensional carbon fibers. These novel fibers have a surface area approximately two orders of magnitude greater than the surface area of primary fibers.They are composed of original carbon fibers (OCF) with secondary carbon filaments (SCFs) grown thereon. Additional tertiary carbon filaments (TCF) can also be grown from the surface of SCFs, forming a filamentous carbon network with high surface area. The presence of carbon filaments enhances the interfacial bonding between the fiber and the matrix, which greatly reduces the problems associated with the delamination of the composite materials. Furthermore, the strong micromechanical interaction with the matrix due to the increased surface area, allows the three-dimensional carbon fibers to efficiently bind with metal, ceramic, glass, and concrete matrices, resulting in a wide range of applications.


Carbon fiber composites (CFCs) are used in the fabrication of advanced composite materials for applications such as aerospace, civil engineering, military, automobile and sporting goods. These materials are highly sought after for their high strength, low weight, low thermal expansion and reasonable cost. In general, carbon-reinforced composite materials comprise of carbon fibers and a matrix, which can be constructed using materials such as: polymers, carbons, ceramic, metals and glass. The matrix must have the ability to transfer stress between fibers so that all the fibers used are effective in bearing the load. However, one of the major problems associated with CFC materials relates to the poor adhesion or weak bonding between the carbon fibers and matrix molecules. The degree of adhesion between them depends considerably on the surface properties of the carbon fibers. The surface area is a critical parameter that influences the interaction of a carbon fiber with the matrix materials and hence its behavior in a composite. Numerous attempts have been made to improve bonding, consisting mostly of chemical and physical modifications to the surface of the fiber. Unfortunately, these techniques offer rather limited capabilities for increasing the interfacial surface area between the carbon fiber and the matrix


• Timely, cost effective and continuous manufacturing process
• Manufacturing is not sensitive to small amounts of contaminants, allowing the use of industrial grade carbonaceous gases
• Length and thickness of filaments are highly controllable and customizable
• Original carbon fibers are protected during production of the composite materials

Applications and Industries

The novel three-dimensional carbon fibers can be directly applied to advanced composite materials, adsorbents, catalyst supports, fuel cells, capacitors, medicine, refrigeration and environmental control.

Patents and Patent Applications
ID Number
Title and Abstract
Primary Lab
Patent 6,787,229
Three-dimensional carbon fibers and method and apparatus for their production
This invention relates to novel three-dimensional (3D) carbon fibers which are original (or primary) carbon fibers (OCF) with secondary carbon filaments (SCF) grown thereon, and, if desired, tertiary carbon filaments (TCF) are grown from the surface of SCF forming a filamentous carbon network with high surface area. The methods and apparatus are provided for growing SCF on the OCF by thermal decomposition of carbonaceous gases (CG) over the hot surface of the OCF without use of metal-based catalysts. The thickness and length of SCF can be controlled by varying operational conditions of the process, e.g., the nature of CG, temperature, residence time, etc. The optional activation step enables one to produce 3D activated carbon fibers with high surface area. The method and apparatus are provided for growing TCF on the SCF by thermal decomposition of carbonaceous gases over the hot surface of the SCF using metal catalyst particles.
Technology Status
Technology IDDevelopment StageAvailabilityPublishedLast Updated
UCF IP # 6296 & 6490DevelopmentAvailable10/02/201210/02/2012

Contact GRANT About This Technology

To: John Miner<>