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Industry News
Carbon fiber: Supply and demand forecast

Chris Red, editor and VP market research at Composites Market Reports, and Tony Roberts, principal of AJR Consultant LLC, led off with a pre-conference seminar on the global outlook for carbon fiber composites. Look for excess supply until the middle part of the coming decade.

Author:
Posted on: 12/16/2009
Source: CompositesWorld
Chris Red, editor and VP market research at Composites Market Reports, and Tony Roberts, principal of AJR Consultant LLC, led off with a pre-conference seminar on the global outlook for carbon fiber composites. This annual report provides what is likely the best-researched and most accurate assessment of current and future carbon fiber supply and demand.

Red led off with a review of end-market activities that are driving and will drive carbon fiber use over the next decade or so. Noted projects under development include several 75-95-seat aircraft in the works like the Dash-8-400 and the MRJ-700/900, possible carbon fiber use in new single-aisle aircraft expected to replace the Airbus A320 and Boeing 737, and the quickly growing unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) market. Regarding UAVs, Red asserted, "I believe the days of manned fighter aircraft are over following the development of the F-35." Red also is particularly bullish about carbon fiber use in wind turbine blades, and by 2018 he and Roberts believe that the wind energy market will be the largest overall consumer of carbon fiber.

Roberts, for his part, provided a review of carbon fiber use in China. He reported that the vast majority (85 percent, 6,930 metric tonnes) of carbon fiber use in China is for sporting goods applications. The largest importer of carbon fiber is Xiamen Xinkai Composites Materials Co. Ltd. (448 tonnes), followed by Weihai Guangwei Group Co. Ltd. (282 tonnes) and SK Chemical (Qindao) Co. Ltd. (243 tonnes). In 2007, Chinese carbon fiber uses paid about $33,500/tonne for carbon fiber, but $23,000 in 2008 as the recession began. By 2012, Roberts expects China carbon fiber demand to 12,000 tonnes, up from 7,400 tonnes in 2009. Top three end markets will be sporting goods, infrastructure and wind power.

Red and Roberts finished their presentation with their forecast of carbon fiber demand, and an estimate of nameplate capacity (see tables). Given a knockdown percentage of 65 percent (65 percent of nameplate capacity is actually sellable for use by processors), Red and Roberts expect a supply/demand equilibrium in 2014-2017, with excess supply until then.

Total Global Carbon Fiber Demand, metric tonnes

 
2008
2009
2010
2014
2018
Roberts
34,76034,895
41,240
74,500
113,500
Red
30,150
31,800
36,975
71,875
111,150

PAN-based Carbon Fiber Nameplate Capacity, metric tonnes
 2008
2009
2010
2011
2012
2013
2014
Small-tow (up to 24k)
49,150
53,750
62,300
65,300
66,200
66,700
66,750
Large-tow (>24k)
18,050
26,550
30,750
34,050
35,950
41,950
45,200
Total
67,200
80,300
93,050
99,350
102,150
108,650
111,950

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