China Jushi USA breaks ground on 80,000-tonne glass fiber facility

World’s largest glass fiber manufacturer will begin production in SC by 2019.

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Jushi Group (Zhejiang, China) is the largest manufacturer of glass fiber in the world, with a production capacity of more than 1 million metric tonnes/yr. The company operates three domestic manufacturing sites and opened a fourth — its first overseas — in Egypt in 2014, for supplying Europe and the Middle East. Like the site in Egypt, this new US facility will add 80,000 metric tonnes/yr of capacity in its Phase I development.

Located in the Pineview Industrial Park, outside of Columbia, South Carolina, construction of the $300 million plant is slated to begin 1Q 2017 and be completed by the end of 2018. Jushi USA will then relocate its headquarters from its current location in Irwindale, CA. Phase I operations are expected to create 400 jobs. Long-term plans for the site will follow the same expansion as Jushi Egypt (see “Jushi expands in Egypt, establishes US operations”).

Drew Walker, previously president of high-strength glass fiber producer AGY (Aiken, SC, US), is the president and general manager of the new Jushi USA plant. He said the plant’s location offers a skilled workforce and excellent logistics — an adjacent rail line for raw materials and proximity to major north-south and east-west highways for shipping products, as well as connection to the port of Charleston.  Many weavers and textile producers are also located in the state and the South Carolina Dept. of Commerce has had an office in Beijing for years. “Of course South Carolina offers incentives,” says Walker, “but its Chinese delegation was also very important. They have developed a good relationship and have been able to address Jushi’s concerns.”

Walker says Jushi offers the most advanced technology worldwide for glass fiber production. Indeed, the company’s 2014 announcement of its E7 high-strength fiber claims a 30% increase in tensile strength and 11% increase in modulus vs. previous boron-free high-strength products when tested in unidirectional fabrics for wind blades. The same technology adapted as 312T roving for pultrusion provides a 15% boost in tensile strength with 10% higher modulus. This is reportedly achieved while being boron- and fluorine-free, using advanced melting techniques such as oxygen firing technology to reduce emissions (waste gas by 80%, nitrogen oxide by 90%) and employing recycling to achieve zero discharge of industrial wastewater. Information on-site at the groundbreaking stated that the new SC plant will feature information technology-integrated smart machinery and intelligent manufacturing control.

Jushi Group President Yang Guoming said that America is where fiberglass was created and was once the largest fiberglass producing nation but now is Jushi’s largest market. This South Carolina facility, he continued, is evidence of “our determination to be further globalized, first creating markets and then supporting them locally. In 1995 our products entered the US market,” said Yang. “We are now exporting capital and want to work with the US to promote the fiberglass industry and market.”