Inventors at the RWTH Aachen University have developed a thermally conductive lightweight sandwich structure based on carbon fibers. The high thermal conductivity in the thickness direction of the non-metallic composite element is achieved by the use of pitch-based carbon fibers. Pitch-based carbon fibers are characterised by a very high thermal conductivity in the fiber direction. The processing of the fibers is highly challenging due to their extreme elasticity modulus of up to 950 GPa. Therefore other thermally conductive materials usually metallic are mostly used for conventional components. With today's technology they can now be processed in a non-destructive manner protected by a polymer matrix fiber bundle so that the heat conduction is not hindered due to fiber breakage. This allows lightweight sandwich structures with a high thermal conductivity to be produced without metal components. Commercial Opportunities: The present technology enables the replacement of thermally loaded components which have to date been produced from metal with extremely lightweight composite components. Uses for this technology can be seen anywhere where good thermal conductivity is required together with a lightweight design. Similarly the cooling fins of high performance batteries in the field of electric mobility will be replaced by composites without affecting the heat dissipation required for quick charging.
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