August 10, 2010

Future of Carbon Fiber

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CompositesWorld's Carbon Fiber 2009 conference had a forecast of carbon fiber supply and demand World carbon fiber production should increase from 41240 tons to 113500 tons in 2018.

* carbon fiber will be used in flywheels, which are being developed for storage of wind energy during non-peak generation. One flywheel could consume as much as 1,100 lb/500 kg of carbon fiber.
* carbon fiber is used in the natural gas vehicle (NGV) market for the gas tank. There are currently 11 million to 12.5 million NGVs on the road, worldwide
* expect 65 million NGVs by 2020, with demand for 166.5 million pressure vessels.
* In the automotive industry, carbon has earned a niche in the supercar segment where its high cost isn't a deterrent to sales. But current economic woes, which have hit automakers especially hard, and a long history with part-per-minute metal-stamping technology, have limited the bulk of auto composites to glass-reinforced plastics for select underhood, support-structure and interior apps and, in limited quantity, glass-reinforced sheet molding compounds (SMCs) in body panels. [This is in contrast to Amory Lovins prediction of widespread carbon fiber usage to reduce weight in cars. It will take a massive breakthrough in carbon fiber, carbon nanotube or graphene production to millions of tons per year]
* civil engineering (e.g., bridges and other infrastructure) and the oil and gas industry have been resistant to carbon, in part, because they, too, tend to be change-averse and find greater comfort, in their highly regulated environments, with legacy steel and concrete technologies

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