A company founded by cycling legend Greg LeMond has licensed carbon fiber technology from an Australian university.
Oak Ridge, Tenn.-based LeMond Composites LLC has entered into an exclusive global 20-year licensing agreement with Deakin University in Victoria, Australia. The $44 million agreement allows LeMond to commercialize Deakin's patent pending manufacturing process to increase production of high performance, low-cost carbon fiber.
The new carbon fiber materials can be blended with plastics in a variety of products, including auto parts and turbine blades. Company officials said the new materials can reduce production costs by 50 percent and reduce energy consumed during production by as much as 60 percent.
Officials said in a news release that the licensed process will enable LeMond to commercialize carbon fiber production faster than anyone else currently in the marketplace. "Deakin University's process oxidizes carbon fiber faster, with lower capital and energy costs and greater output of carbon fiber over a shorter period," Chief Operating Officer Nicolas Wegener said in the release.
Greg LeMond added that "the ability to scale production, along with our low-cost carbon fiber is what will allow LeMond Composites to deliver this material to the masses."
LeMond — a three-time Tour de France champion — founded LeMond Composites in 2016. The firm is working with Oak Ridge National Laboratory to develop new carbon fiber materials. LeMond Composites was formed to create new solutions for high-volume, low-cost carbon fiber. In 1986, LeMond became the first cyclist to win the Tour de France riding a carbon fiber bike.
Company officials said that LeMond Composites is about to secure its first supply agreement with a commercial customer, and will use the new process to manufacture and sell carbon fiber starting in September 2017. Later this year, the firm will begin construction of a new commercial carbon fiber facility in Oak Ridge.