Carbon Fiber Production
- Carbon fiber is currently produced in relatively limited quantities mostly via two manufacturing processes:
A. Based on pitch (coal tar and petroleum products)
B. Based on Polyacrylonitrile (PAN)
- Current global capacity for pitch-based carbon fiber is estimated at about 3,500 metric tons per year.
- Global use for PAN-based carbon fiber is increasing rapidly, and total production capacity currently does not meet the demand.
- PAN-based carbon fiber is more expensive to produce, hence, limiting its use to high end applications, (used primarily by aerospace and sporting equipment industries)
- Pitch and PAN carbon fibers have properties that suit different applications.
- The most common carbon-fiber type is PAN, primarily for structural reinforcement because of its high tensile strength.
- Mesophase pitch fibers, on the other hand, offer designers a different profile. They are easily customized to meet specific applications. They often have a higher modulus, or stiffness than conventional PAN fibers, are intrinsically more pure electrochemically, and have higher ionic intercalation.
- Mesophase Pitch fibers also possess higher thermal and electrical conductivity, and different friction properties.
Carbon Fiber Applications
Global demand for high-strength, light-weight and durable fiber is growing; typical applications in:
- Portable power
- Rechargeable batteries and fuel cell electrodes
- Fiber reinforced plastics, FRP
- Energy production; windmill blades
- Building and construction materials: concrete and asphalt reinforcements, soil erosion barriers
- Electronics, composite materials for automotives & general transportation
- Specialty and niche markets
Carbon Fiber Markets