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Home > Funding Programs > Carbon Fibre Grand Challenge
The Carbon Fibre Grand Challenge (‘CFGC’) is a $26 million three-phase competition with the objective of accelerating the development of large-scale production pathways for short and continuous carbon fibre from bitumen-derived feedstocks and promoting their use in manufactured products.
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The CFGC is part of the Bitumen Beyond Combustion (BBC) initiative by Alberta Innovates to further the development of non-combustion products, and their production technologies, derived from bitumen contained in Alberta’s oil sands. The latter are amongst the world’s largest hydrocarbon resources, with proven reserves of approximately 170 billion barrels and current production of 3 million barrels per day. At present, most bitumen products are destined for energy generation by combustion (such as gasoline, diesel, and heating oil).
Carbon Fibre (‘CF’) is one of the identified products that could be made from bitumen. The high strength and stiffness of CF, coupled with low density and high corrosion resistance, along with desirable functional properties (e.g. thermal or electrical conductivity) make composite materials that incorporate CF functionally superior to many conventional metals, wood products, and commercial polymers for use in electric vehicles, transportation, infrastructure, construction, and consumer products sectors. Alberta Innovates is working with CF manufacturers and end users, who have been providing market information and target performance specifications. Current demand for carbon fibre is constrained by the high costs of feedstocks and production technologies (primarily based on polyacrylonitrile or pitch) and incorporating fibre into mass produced end-products, like automobile components.
The Carbon Fibre Grand Challenge Phase III program is directed towards funding the development of technologies that can convert feedstocks derived from Alberta’s oil sands into CF. These feedstocks should be produced, or have the potential to be produced, in large enough quantities to supply a large-scale carbon fibre industry. These feedstocks may include, but are not limited to, asphaltenes and refinery feeds. The price of asphaltene or refinery derived feedstocks from Alberta bitumen are projected to be significantly lower than polyacrylonitrile ($2 – 5 USD / lb) feedstocks.
Carbon fibre from bitumen-derived asphaltenes is estimated to have significantly smaller environmental impacts than CF produced from other sources, including agriculture and forestry. Oil sands operators, CF producers and end users have expressed significant interest in carbon fibre derived from bitumen provided performance and cost criteria can also be met.
The Carbon Fibre Grand Challenge aims to produce new carbon fibre products and processes, reduce lifecycle GHG emissions of carbon fibres and aid in the economic diversification of Alberta. There exists significant potential to increase the value of Alberta bitumen and grow Alberta’s green economy, all while increasing employment and export potential.
The full Program Guide will be released in early May 2023. There are three phases to the CFGC. Phase I concluded in February 2021. Phase II will conclude in July 2023. Phase III Applications will open on May 15, 2023. Applicants to Phase III are not required to have participated in Phases I or II.
CFGC Phase III Program Guide
The Carbon Fibre Grand Challenge Phase III competition is open to technology developers, industry (including small, medium and large size enterprises), industry associations, research and development (R&D) organizations, post-secondary institutions, not-for-profit organizations, and government research labs, providing they are legally able to execute the Investment Agreements found in the Links section below. Applicants are not required to be based in Alberta or Canada but must demonstrate a clear value proposition for Alberta and Canada.
Applicant teams must meet the following requirements:
Collaboration between multiple organizations with complementary expertise across the carbon fibre value chain is strongly encouraged. Collaboration can often represent a strong value proposition by demonstrating opportunities for leveraging knowledge, technology validation, and sharing of results.
The maximum project length for projects funded under this Call is three (3) years from project commencement. Projects could commence as early as September 2023 and must be completed by August 2026.
Carbon Fibre is a controlled material governed by the Applicant country’s national export control laws. Should the Applicant be awarded funding in the Carbon Fibre Grand Challenge – Phase II, as part of Alberta Innovates’ reporting requirements, the Applicant will be required to report, in a confidential manner, technical details regarding the testing methods and manufacturing processes related to the carbon fibre developed in the Applicant’s project. The Applicant may also be asked to provide a sample of the carbon fibre manufactured in the project to Alberta Innovates. Applicants should ensure that they are familiar with their national export control regulations related to carbon fibre materials and are able to comply with Alberta Innovates’ reporting obligations in the event that success in the Phase II project triggers export control regulations and associated licensing requirements within their jurisdiction. Export control regulations and/or failure to obtain an export clearance (to the extent required) do not absolve the Applicant from the responsibility of reporting on technical details in a confidential manner and providing a sample to Alberta Innovates (and the Alberta Government who is Alberta Innovates’ sole shareholder). If an Applicant is unable to ensure that the reporting obligations can be fulfilled under their national export control regulations, then an application should not be submitted to CFGC – Phase III.
To qualify for funding, all Projects must:
Late applications will not be reviewed. Applicants will need to deliver a presentation to the review committee during the week of August 21-25, 2023. Exact presentation dates and times will be confirmed after the application period closes on June 26, 2023.
View the applicant webinar and accompanying slide deck under ‘Resources’.
All applications are reviewed and evaluated to determine fit with the Carbon Fibre Grand Challenge Phase III objectives and intended outcomes. Alberta Innovates staff and external expert reviewers are engaged to evaluate Applications.
For more information on the evaluation process, consult the Program Guide.
Feedstock(s) used in Projects funded by the Carbon Fibre Grand Challenge Phase III must be derived from Alberta oilsands bitumen. No exceptions will be made. Applicants may elect to source feedstock(s) on their own or through the Carbon Fibre Grand Challenge Phase III program. Applicants will be asked to indicate on the application form if they will require samples from the program. Applicants that do not source feedstock from the program are required to demonstrate the Alberta origin of the feedstock and may be required to provide a full characterization for the sample.
Senior Manager, Clean Technology Development
The Carbon Fibre Grand Challenge is a competition to accelerate the development of carbon fibre from bitumen-derived asphaltenes into useful manufactured products.
Registration closed: June 26, 2023
Application Deadline: June 26, 2023, at 2:00 PM MDT
Funding Decision Notification: July 2023
Earliest Project Start Date: September 1, 2023
Applications will open on May 15, 2023, and must be submitted by June 26, 2023, at 2:00 PM MDT. Late applications will not be reviewed. The application process will be a single stage Full Proposal.
Applicants will need to deliver a presentation to the review committee during the week of August 21-25, 2023. Exact presentation dates and times will be confirmed after the application period closes on June 26, 2023.
Zetetic Associates Ltd.
November 16, 2021
A joint pool of $5.27 million contributed by CRIN and Alberta Innovates to be shared as participating teams scale up and improve quality of carbon fibre manufactured from Alberta bitumen.
March 9, 2021
Creating carbon fibre from bitumen with $5 million in funding available to support Phase II of the Carbon Fibre Grand Challenge.
July 23, 2020