The National Science Foundation (NSF) awarded the University of South Alabama a $250,000 Partners for Innovation grant to create high-performance carbon fiber reinforced polymer (CFRP) composites available for broad commercialization.

The new composite material, known as ZT-CFRP, features carbon nanofibers threaded between the conventional carbon fibers in a zigzag formation.  The material’s mechanical, electrical, and thermal loads are distributed in all directions within the composite, leading to an increase in the material’s conductivity. The design also increases the strength of ZT-CFRP, yielding a composite material less vulnerable to damage from impact.

ZT-CFRP will be available as a prepreg roll and as a thin resin film to be used with prepreg materials.

The NSF grant includes a focus on commercialization, requiring the university to seek industrial partners, and five companies have expressed interest in the project: Toray, Porsche Motorsports, MHP Americas, UST Mamiya, and Hexcel.