The global carbon fiber industrialized products center on PAN-based carbon fiber, which accounts for over 90% of the total output of carbon fiber. In 2015, the global capacity of PAN-based carbon fiber totaled about 142,000 tons, of which small-tow carbon fiber occupied about 70%.

Global carbon fiber capacity is mainly contributed by Japan, Europe and the United States. In 2015, the world's top five companies, Toray, Teijin, SGL, Mitsubishi Rayon and Formosa Plastics, shared 60% of the global carbon fiber capacity together; particularly, Toray's carbon fiber capacity attained 40,000 tons (including Zoltek's 13,000 tons), equivalent to 28% of the global total capacity.

Demand amounted to 59,000 tons in 2015. 22%, 62% and 16% of carbon fiber were applied to aerospace, industries, and sports & leisure respectively. Specifically, the demand from industries grew fastest, especially from automobiles, wind power, pressure vessels and other market segments. By 2020, 72% of the global carbon fiber will be used in industries, of which 23% will be adopted by automobiles and 21% by wind power.

We take the automotive industry as an example: In the wake of automotive lightweight, more and more carbon fiber composite materials will be utilized in automobiles. Currently, BMW, Benz, Ferrari, Lamborghini, General Motors, Ford and other automakers have already got involved in the field of carbon fiber materials. The fast-growing SGL and BMW cooperate to make use of carbon fiber materials in the body structure of BMW i3, i8 and allnew 7 Series. The global market size of automotive carbon fiber composites hit about US$1.58 billion in 2015, and is expected to maintain the high growth rate of around 30% in the next few years.

China carbon fiber industry started late. Now, it is only sophisticated at T300 carbon fiber production processes, makes breakthroughs in T700 and T800 technologies and realizes small-lot production. However, the Chinese producers hold backward technologies and pay high production costs; coupled with the declining international carbon fiber price in recent three years, Chinese carbon fiber enterprises are confronted with operating difficulties with a low operating rate. In 2015, China's output of carbon fiber only reached about 4,000 tons, and the self-sufficiency ratio was less than 20%.

Robust demand

In 2015, there were more than 30 Chinese carbon fiber manufacturers, but only Hengshen CoLtd and Zhongfu Shenying achieved the respective output of above 1,000 tons, while the carbon fiber devices of some enterprises were in a shutdown state. In China, Zhongfu Shenying holds the largest carbon fiber capacity, namely 6,300 tons, of which 2,100 tons were gained in 2015. Hengshen C, Ltd is the first carbon fiber and composite materials enterprise on NEW OTCBB (Over the Counter Bulletin Board), with a complete industrial chain ranging from carbon fiber precursor to terminal composites.

China's demand for carbon fiber has always remained robust and will still ascend at the growth rate of over 15% in the next five years. The favorable national policies and huge market potentials have allured a number of listed companies to step in the field of carbon fiber and composite materials, for instance, Beijing Kangde Xin Composite Material has made layout for auto-related carbon fiber composite materials and studied carbon fiber components of new energy vehicles in cooperation with BAIC BJEV; by virtue of its technological advantages in stamping and molding, Haiyuan Automatic Equipments Co Ltd. has raised RMB600 million for R & D and production of carbon fiber body parts of new energy vehicle.

The full report can be found here.

This story uses material from Reportlinker.com, with editorial changes made by Materials Today. The views expressed in this article do not necessarily represent those of Elsevier.