SGL JV wins grant for carbon fiber precursor development

European Precursor GmbH, a joint venture (JV) of SGL Group and Lenzing Group, has won a €6 million grant to develop a new carbon fiber precursor.

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European Precursor GmbH (EPG, Kelheim, Germany), a joint venture (JV) between SGL Group (Wiesbaden, Germany) and Lenzing Group (Lenzing, Austria), announced on July 17 that it will receive a grant totaling €6 million for the development of a high-tech carbon-fiber precursor. The grant is being offered under the Bavaria FIT program for the promotion of research, innovation and technology.

The funds will be used to operate a pilot plant and further research facilities at the Kelheim site that the company will construct. The target of the project is to develop a carbon-fiber precursor for high-performance applications in the aerospace industry and the defense sector. The precursor as polymer base material is essential for the manufacture of carbon fibers and carbon fiber-based composite materials.

The SGL Group is currently the only European integrated manufacturer of carbon fiber for industrial applications, particularly for wind energy, automotive, construction and sport and leisure applications.

European Precursor GmbH was founded at the end of 2006 as a production joint venture between SGL Group and Lenzing Group. The purpose of the company is to develop and supply carbon-fiber precursor exclusively for SGL Group from European production. Since establishment of the joint venture, both parties have jointly invested around €20 million in an initial production facility for a standard grade precursor based on polyacrylic nitrite (PAN) fibers for industrial applications, particularly for use in the wind energy sector. The company says there are medium-term plans to invest up to €50 million to further capacity expansion.

SGL Group has already announced plans to invest €300 million to increase its own capacity to 12,000 tonnes annually by 2012. This includes the construction of a new production site in Germany. At the beginning of 2009, SGL Group will have annual capacity of approximately 6,000 tonnes from sites in Evanston, Wyo. (USA) and Inverness, Scotland, U.K.