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The global market for PAN-based carbon fibre

News International-French

25 Mar 2011

The carbon market has developed enormously since its early days in the 1970s. Given the heavy demand expected in the energy, sports/leisure and aviation segments, it should remain just as dynamic in the future.

(Published on December 2007 – JEC Magazine #37)

 

 

MICHEL BRISSON, MANAGING DIRECTOR, SOFICAR

 

We can see four distinct phases in the development of the carbonfibre market, beginning with the market’s emergence from the early 1970s to the mid-1980s. Demand for carbon fibre started in sports applications, notably fishing rods, and then spread to certain secondary aircraft parts. By the end of the 1970s, the global market represented only about 250 18 JEC Composites Magazine / No37 December 2007 The global market for PAN-based carbon fibre Trends BUSINESS metric tons (MT). In the 1980s, the market grew with the addition of new applications, mainly in the sports and leisure sector with tennis racquets and golf clubs, and in aviation with primary parts. Progress was also made in carbonfibre converting processes, with new, more successful technologies, particularly in moulding. From 1994 to 2003, industrial applications developed in high-pressure tanks, ship-building, civil engineering, and more. That period was also marked by sporadic crises in connection with the international situation (the Gulf War, 9/11) that temporarily destabilized the market without halting the general growth trend, however. From 2004 on, demand boomed as the industrial sector expanded rapidly. With the abrupt rise in oil prices, carbon fibre started to enter more and more into energy-production applications, such as wind turbines, fuel cells, and ultracentrifugation, and to play a much bigger role in the newgeneration Airbus A380, A350, and Boeing 787 aircraft, which are lighter and therefore more fuel-efficient. The global market currently represents about 34,000 MT (2007 figures).

 

 

Geographic regions

Most of the demand comes from four different geographic regions: Asia, Japan, Europe and North America, the largest consumers of carbon fibre.

 

The carbon-fibre market is surging in all these regions, with an average annual growth of about 14% for North America up through 2012, 12% for Europe and Japan, and 10% for Asia.