Reliance Industries is reported be looking at sourcing technology from India’s National Aersospace Laboratories (NAL) to build a 4000 tonnes/year carbon fibre plant at Vadodara.
NAL had set up a 20 tonnes/year plant in Bangalore in 2006 with the material used for light combat aircraft, missile and space programmes.
Carbon fibre is certainly a good business to be in. The product is said to be short globally on increased consumption by the passenger aircraft sector, especially by Boeing and Airbus. Frost and Sullivan expect demand for carbon fibre composites from the aerospace industry to hit 35,800 tonnes by 2010, up from 7,260 tonnes in 2007.
Most of the big manufacturers of carbon fibre have lined up expansion plans. Toho Tenax, a wholly-owned subsidiary Teijin, plans to raise capacity by 1,700 tonnes/year at an existing plant in Germany by 2009.
The company had started up a new 2,700 tonnes/year line in Japan earlier this year. This line raised the company’s total capacity to 11,800 tonnes/year. Toho Tenax has projected a 15% global demand growth in the coming years with consumption expected to exceed 40,000 tonnes in 2010.
Japan’s Toray plans to invest $149m in the business to meet rising demand from aviation and industrial application. A new calcination and precursor line producing 1,000 tonnes/year of polyacrylonitrile (PAN)-based carbon fibre are due to come onstream in July 2009. This would boost Toray’s global capacity to 18,900 tonnes/year.
Toray is increasing its PAN-based carbon fibre capacity at its plants in Alabama, US, and Abidos, France, both of which are scheduled to come online in December 2008. And the company would like to take its total capacity to 25,000 tonnes/year by end-2010.
Toray has also projected a 15% annual increase in global demand but its figure for 2010 is higher at 53,000 tonnes.