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ORT: Three-time Tour de France champion leads company into Oak Ridge

(Oak Ridge Today)  According to our partners at Oak Ridge Today, a new carbon fiber company that includes three-time Tour de France champion Greg LeMond plans to build a carbon fiber production line in west Oak Ridge to make composites for use in transportation, renewable energy, and infrastructure, and LeMond thinks the Knoxville area will become the world hub for carbon fiber.

The new company, LeMond Composites, has signed a licensing agreement with Oak Ridge National Laboratory, and it has purchased the former Theragenics building at Horizon Center, where CVMR, an international company that uses ore concentrates to create pure metal powders, had once planned to locate its headquarters and research and development.

LeMond Composites closed on the property, which includes about 21 acres, on July 21 for $5.4 million. It’s right next to ORNL’s Carbon Fiber Technology Facility, or CFTF, at Horizon Center. Renovations at the former Theragenics building are already under way.

Carbon fiber is light, stiff, and strong, a press release said. That makes it the perfect material for advanced composites in a variety of applications, including transportation, renewable energy, and infrastructure. It can be used to improve efficiency, save energy, and build or repair vehicles and planes, wind turbines and containers, and bridges and tunnels.

But the biggest obstacle to its widespread use has been its high cost.

Carbon fiber manufacturing pioneer Connie Jackson and a research team at ORNL’s Carbon Fiber Technology Facility have invented a breakthrough process that will reduce production costs by more than 50 percent compared to the lowest-cost industrial-grade carbon fiber, a press release said.

It’s the most significant development in carbon fiber production in more than 50 years, and LeMond Composites, which was founded this year and is based in Oak Ridge, wants to introduce it to the global marketplace, the press release said.

Carbon fiber demand is increasing due to its uses in the auto industry, the renewable energy sector and other sectors including shipping, air travel, and marine, which could all see significant energy savings through the use of carbon fiber in the light weighting of their containers, planes, and ships.

Carbon fiber composites can also be used to build, reinforce, or repair bridges, tunnels, and commercial and residential structures.

The new LeMond Composites building is at 103 Palladium Way. The company said the first commercially available product will be ready in the first quarter of 2018.

For more information, visit our partners at Oak Ridge Today online.

About Jim Harris

Jim Harris has been WYSH's News & Sports Director since 2000. In addition to reporting local news, he is the play-by-play voice for Clinton High School football, boys' and girls' basketball and baseball. Catch Jim live weekdays beginning at 6:20 am for live local news, sports, weather and traffic plus the Community Bulletin Board, shenanigans with Ron Meredith and more on the Country Club Morning Show on WYSH & WQLA. Jim lives in Clinton with his wife Kelly and daughter Carolina, his mother-in-law and cats Lucius and Oliver.

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