SGL Automotive Carbon Fibers Washington plant completed on time

SGL's carbon fiber facility in Moses, Lake, Wash., will produce carbon fiber for exclusive use in BMW's forthcoming i3 all-electric car.

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SGL Automotive Carbon Fibers (SGL, Moses Lake, Wash., USA), a joint venture of carbon fiber manufacturer SGL Group and automaker BMW Group, announced on May 23 that it has met the completion date for its Moses Lake carbon fiber manufacturing facility on time. SGL ACF has officially taken over occupancy of the facility and is on track to begin testing equipment for the manufacture of carbon fibers that will be used in the new all-electric BMW i3.

“The new carbon fiber plant in Moses Lake is a fundamental component of the joint venture’s strategy to commercialize the manufacture of lightweight carbon fiber reinforced plastics for use in the automotive industry. Carbon fiber technology is becoming increasingly important in the materials substitution process to lighter materials, which helps to improve fuel consumption and lower CO2 emissions,” said Andreas Wuellner, managing director SGL Automotive Carbon Fibers.

Dr. Joerg Pohlman, managing director SGL Automotive Carbon Fibers, said, “After a year of design work and breaking ground this past July, it has taken us only nine months to construct the Moses Lake facility. The new carbon fiber plant, a benchmark in the industry, will be the most cost efficient of its kind worldwide. We are closely adhering to our aggressive time plan for plant completion in the 3rd quarter of this year. We worked closely together to achieve this important milestone.”

The carbon fibers manufactured in Moses Lake will be used exclusively for BMW Group’s demand, the first application being the upcoming BMW i3 that will be launched in 2013. The plant covers 60 acres of land with the option to purchase additional land to cater to future growth. The plant will initially run two 50k carbon fiber lines, each with an annual capacity of 1,500 metric tons. The first carbon fiber line will be commissioned in the third quarter of 2011.

These carbon fibers will then be processed into lightweight carbon fiber fabrics at the second joint venture site in Wackersdorf, Germany. The carbon fiber reinforced plastic (CFRP) parts and components will then be made from these fabrics at the BMW plant in Landshut, Germany. BMW Group’s forthcoming i3 will be constructed from these parts at the BMW plant in Leipzig, Germany. The raw material needed to manufacture carbon fibers, a polyacrylonitrile (PAN)-based precursor, will be produced by MRC SGL Precursor Co. Ltd. (MSP), a joint venture between SGL Group and the Japanese Company Mitsubishi Rayon (MRC). MSP is based at the MRC production site in Otake, Japan and started on-time to deliver the first commercial quantities of polyacrylonitrile (PAN) based precursor to SGL ACF in 2Q 2011.