4M Industrial Oxidation, LLC, a Knoxville, Tennessee-based carbon fiber technology company, holds the exclusive rights to commercialize atmospheric plasma oxidation for the production of carbon fiber that was co-developed with Oak Ridge National Laboratory. It completed a reverse merger in 2017 with Woodland Holdings Corp, an SEC reporting company, to position itself as a public entity. In early 2018, Woodland changed its name to 4M Carbon Fiber Corp (“4M”) and expects to complete the filing process and be trading on a public stock exchange in 2019. 4M determined that the best way to extract the economic and technical value from the technology is to build carbon fiber production lines. The technology has been proven to use 75% less energy, produce a high-quality fiber, and use a third of the footprint for the same production capacity. These claims have been validated by multiple international carbon fiber producers and 4M is negotiating with several of the world’s largest carbon fiber makers to participate as the launch partner for the production of low-cost carbon fiber. 4M is also in discussions with a billion-dollar-per-year international energy savings performance company to build production lines using the technology. The use of this technology is expected to reduce the cost of carbon fiber by 20% which will open up numerous markets in need of strong, light materials.
The carbon composite industry is a $2 billion market expected to grow at least 10% CAGR through 2024 (according to Composites World Magazine Aug 2016) with growing demand from the auto industry, trucking industry, rail cars, pressure vessels, infrastructure, wind energy and other industries that require strong and lightweight materials. Projections from the JEC Conference in South Carolina in December 2017 revealed that more than 150 new carbon fiber lines will be required if there is no significant reduction in carbon fiber cost. The need may drastically increase with a reduction in the cost of carbon fiber. A valuation analysis prepared by Oak Ridge National Lab indicates that the technology could save in excess of 20% of the manufacturing cost. The oxidation technology is patent- and trade-secret protected and 4M has exclusive rights to use the technology to produce carbon fiber. “The process is so efficient that it can reduce the processing time from about 100 minutes to 20 to 30 minutes and uses 75% less energy than conventional oxidation ovens. In addition, plasma oxidation ovens are one-third the length of thermal ovens with the same throughput, which could enable smaller production facilities. Because of these advantages, plasma oxidation has the potential of reducing the cost of manufacturing carbon fiber by 20%,” according to a recent article published by the US Department of Energy.
Carbon Fiber Uses
Several of the world’s major carbon fiber makers have tested the technology using their precursor material, validating the technology claims while demonstrating that the fiber produced is as satisfactory as that made with conventional technology and even superior in some situations. Oxidation is a critical step in the production of carbon fiber because it takes the most time and is the most troublesome. 4M and CA Litzler partnered to produce commercial-scale plasma oxidation ovens and are completing the oven, production line, and facility design for manufacture, installation, and commissioning in 2019. Litzler is a global leader in manufacturing carbon fiber production systems.
4M is recruiting a world class team to design, build and operate the facility. The company is negotiating with launch partners to finalize the commercialization plan. 4M has been approached by several carbon fiber manufacturers and will finalize off-take agreements once site selection and partners are in place. 4M expects to generate revenue during the commercialization stage with earnings from carbon fiber and oxidized fiber sales that are projected to be greater than 200 million by 2023.