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)

Carbon Fiber Properties

  • 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