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Pyrograf dreams of role with Chevy Volt

Pyrograf Products is already the world's third-largest producer of carbon fibers, with a wide range of applications for its products.

If fate smiles on the Dayton company, Pyrograf could soon pick up another key application: material for the lithium ion battery that powers the all-electric Chevy Volt.

Pyrograf was spun off as subsidiary to Applied Sciences Inc. in 1999, and became an independent company in 2002. Since then, with research and development support by ASI, the company has produced carbon nanotubes for growing military and commercial products.

"We have striven throughout the course of our company to develop a low-cost manufacturing technology for this material," says president Max Lake. "The larger the tube the more efficient it is, and we've settled on these larger tubes."

Carbon nanotubes can improve the properties of polymers and act as either an insulator or a conductor -- for both heat and electricity.

The company's 25-year relationship with General Motors resulted in GM's licensing of its carbon fiber patents for use in automotive components. But will Pyrograf's materials ultimately make it into the Volt?

"That's our dream," says Lake. "And another part of the dream is that the Chevy Volt will be accepted in the market."

In the meantime, the company continues to sell its materials for products such as tennis rackets, golf clubs and stereo speakers -- as well as defense applications.

The company has benefited from crucial state funding over the years, including commercialization and research funds through the Ohio Third Frontier.

Together, Pyrograf and ASI -- located across the street from each other -- employ 17.

Source: Max Lake, Pyrograf Products and Applied Sciences Inc.
Writer: Gene Monteith

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