Toray announces major carbon fiber capacity increase

Toray Industries Inc. says it will expand carbon fiber production capacity by 6,000 tons by 2015. Affected facilities include plants in Japan, the U.S., France and South Korea. Total investment will be about $552.8 million.

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Toray Industries Inc. (Tokyo, Japan) announced on March 9 that it plans enhance carbon fiber production, investing a total of ~¥45 billion (~$539 million USD) to increase total annual carbon fiber capacity by 6,000 metric tonnes (13.23 million lb). Several industry sources have hinted that The Boeing Co.’s (Seattle, Wash.) planned rewing of its 777 aircraft, using composites, and growing activity in composite pressure vessels spurred by low natural gas prices, might be behind the push.

Production starts for the new lines will be staggered from 2014 through 2015. The Toray Group currently has an annual production capacity of 17,900 metric tonnes (39.46 million lb) of carbon fibers globally. It will increase its annual capacity to 21,100 metric tonnes (46.30 million lb) by January 2013. When the expansion is complete in March 2015, the company’s overall production capacity will rise to 27,100 metric tonnes (59.75 million lb).

About 50 percent of the total investment will go to build an integrated production facility at its Ehime plant in Japan that will produce both precursor and high-performance small-tow carbon fiber, mainly for use in aircraft and premium automobiles. The line will have a capacity of 1,000 metric tonnes (2.21 million lb) per year, and Toray aims to start the operation in March 2015.
Already in progress is construction work that will increase Ehime’s production capacity for high-performance small-tow carbon fiber by an equal amount for a September 2012 startup.

Toray also will bolster production at its three overseas bases. Toray Carbon Fibers Europe SA (Abidos, France) will build a new production facility for precursor — the third one for Toray Group; the other plants are in Japan and the U.S. CFE will to supply PAN fiber for itself and Toray Advanced Materials Korea Inc. (TAK, Seoul, South Korea). In addition, Toray Carbon Fibers America Inc. (CFA, Flower Mound, Texas) will add a new carbonization line at its plant in Decatur, Ala. The capacity of the new line will be 2,500 metric tonnes (5.51 million lb). Startup is expected in September 2014. The move is a response to the growing market for natural gas pressure vessels. TAK also will construct a new carbonization line, like that at CFA, targeted for commissioning in March 2014. TAK is currently installing a facility for standard-modulus fiber with an annual capacity of 2,200 metric tonnes (4.85 million lb), with startup expected in January 2013.

According to Toray, the estimated global demand for PAN-based carbon fibers expanded to 37,000 metric tonnes (81.57 million lb) in 2011 and is expected to grow in excess of 15 percent per year. Other carbon fiber manufacturers are expected to follow suit and announce increases in nameplate capacity. Watch www.compositesworld.com/news/list or subscribe to the CompositesWorld Weekly e-newsletter (www.gardnerweb.com/ctw.cfm).

 

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