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Toray Creates Carbon Fiber Composite Material with Excellent Heat Dissipation that Enables Flexible Thermal Management Design

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May 19, 2021

Toray Industries, Inc.

Tokyo, Japan, May 19, 2021 – Toray Industries, Inc., announced today that it has developed a high thermal conductivity technology that lifts the heat-dissipating properties of carbon fiber-reinforced plastic (CFRP) to that of metals. Applying this technology to CFRP dissipates heat effectively from their sources through thermal conduction paths inside that material. This helps suppress battery degradation in mobility applications while boosting performance in electronic device applications.

Common applications for this light, strong, and rigid plastic are aircraft, automobiles, infrastructure components, sporting goods, and electronic devices. There is a great need to boost the heat dissipation of CFRP as a structural material in advanced mobility services collectively called CASE (for connected, autonomous, shared, and electric) to prevent batteries from deteriorating because of heat building up during charging. CFRP is less thermally conductive than aluminum alloys and other metals. This has prompted efforts to enhance heat dissipation by employing external or internal graphite sheets offering excellent thermal conductivity and heat dissipation and diffusion. These sheets are easy to fracture, scatter, and damage, however, compromising the performance of CFRP.

Over the years, Toray has used proprietary technology to develop and apply highly rigid porous CFRP forming three-dimensional networks with short carbon fibers. On this occasion, Toray created a heat-conductive layer employing a porous CFRP support that safeguards the graphite sheets. Laminating CFRP prepreg on this thermally conductive layer enabled Toray to attain a thermal conductivity above that of metals, which would be impossible with regular CFRP, without compromising the mechanical properties and quality of that material. Prepreg is a sheet-like intermediate material made by impregnating fibers with resin to reinforce them. Common applications are aircraft fuselages, main and tail wings, and other primary structural components, as well as golf club shafts, fishing rods, tennis racket frames, and other sports equipment.

Toray made it possible to determine the thickness and lamination positions of graphite sheets forming thermal conduction paths. This enabled a flexible thermal management design, which controls the paths to release or use heat, for CFRP cooling efficiency and heat diffusion paths.

Toray’s breakthrough is a technological solution for efficiently dissipating heat from batteries and electronic circuits without undermining the lightness of CFRP. The company anticipates that CFRP applications employing its technology will include advanced mobility, mobile electronic devices, and wearables demanding lightness and heat dissipation.

Toray will keep developing revolutionary materials that transform societies in keeping with its commitment to innovating ideas, technologies, and products that deliver new value.