Carbon Fibre Grand Challenge

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The Carbon Fibre Grand Challenge is a $15 million international competition to accelerate the production of carbon fibre from bitumen-derived asphaltenes . The Carbon Fibre Grand Challenge is part of the broader “Bitumen Beyond Combustion” 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, which are among the world’s largest hydrocarbon resources with proven reserves of approximately 170 billion barrels.

The Carbon Fibre Grand Challenge is directed towards funding technologies and projects that can convert Alberta bitumen or asphaltenes derived from Alberta bitumen into carbon fibres.  Carbon fibre’s high strength and stiffness make composite materials that incorporate carbon fibres functionally superior to many conventional materials for use in the transportation, infrastructure, construction and consumer product sectors.The Carbon Fibre Grand Challenge is directed towards funding technologies and projects that can convert bitumen or asphaltenes into carbon fibres. 


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.

Program Details

There will be three phases to the Grand Challenge:

Phase I – Conceptualization / Proof of Concept: June 2020 – December 2020

Applicant Objective: Conceptualize and potentially test pathways for manufacturing carbon fibre from Alberta oilsands asphaltenes with a line of sight to full development of the manufacturing pathway in Phase II.

Phase II – Scaling: June 2021 – December 2022

Applicant Objective: Produce carbon fibres that meet minimum quality specifications using Alberta oilsands asphaltenes.

Phase III – Demonstration: January 2023 – December 2024

Applicant Objective: Design, development, and demonstration of a pre-commercial carbon fibre production process using Alberta oilsands asphaltenes.


Alberta Innovates hosted an introductory webinar for potential applicants on February 11, 2020. To view the slide presentation click HERE. A recording of the webinar is available HERE.

Application Process and Eligibility

Phase I involves a one-stage application process. Applications will be submitted electronically using the Alberta Innovates online intake system. The link to the application system can be found below.

The Carbon Fibre Grand Challenge is open to technology developers, industry (including small medium and large size enterprises), industrial 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 Agreement (link in Resources section below). Applicants are not required to be based in Alberta but must demonstrate a clear value proposition for the province.  Please review the Program Guide (link in Resources section below) for full details on the application process and eligibility.


Asphaltene feedstock used in the Projects funded through this Grand Challenge must be from Alberta bitumen. For applicants without direct access to a feedstock from Alberta bitumen, Alberta Innovates can provide samples through the Asphaltene Sample Bank operated by InnoTech Alberta. Applicants will be asked in their application to indicate if they will require feedstock from the Asphaltene Sample Bank.

Phase I

Competition Open – January 15, 2020
Webinar – February 11, 2020, 9:00 MT (UTC-7:00)
Application Deadline – April 28, 2020, 14:00 MT (UTC-07:00)
Notification Letters Provided to Applicants – Early May 2020
Phase I: Contracting – May-June 2020
Phase I: Project Start – June-July 2020
Latest Date for Project Completion – December 31, 2020

Program Resources