Toray Industries have announced large investment plans to increase production capacity for Carbon Fibre at it’s global sites.
Toray plans to invest a total of around 45 billion yen in these four bases to increase the annual production capacity by 6,000 tons with production at the new lines expected to start in order from 2014 through 2015.
The company currently has an annual production capacity of 17,900 tons of carbon fibre globally and will increase this to 21,100 tons per year by January 2013 with 2 new lines currently under construction. With the proposed large-scale expansion the Group’s overall production capacity will rise to 27,100 tons by March 2015, which would ensure a stable supply structure to deliver high performance, high quality carbon fibres to customers around the world.
About 50% of the total investment will be made in Japan to build an integrated production facility of precursor (raw material fibre for carbon fibre) and high-performance small-tow carbon fibre, mainly used in aircraft and premium automobiles, at its Ehime Plant. The line will have a production capacity of 1,000 tons a year and Toray aims to start the operation in March 2015. While Toray has already been carrying out construction work to increase Ehime Plant’s production capacity of high-performance small-tow carbon fibre by 1,000 tons for a September 2012 start of operations, the demand for such material, especially small-tow fibres, in the market has been increasing and the proposed additional expansion is expected to fulfil that active demand. The project has been selected for receiving support under the Subsidy for Domestic Location Promotion Projects for fiscal year 2011 of the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry.
About 90% of the demand for carbon fibres is from outside Japan, and the persistently strong yen has created a tough business environment for exports from Japan. Toray, however, intends to continue with its strategy to maintain and strengthen domestic production bases by leveraging the government policy for improving domestic business environment including the aforementioned subsidy.
Toray Carbon Fibers Europe will purchase around 160,000 m2 of land at Lacq area from TOTAL S.A., the 5th largest petrochemical major in the world, The company plans to build a production facility. This facility will be the third one for the Group in the world after the plants in Japan and the U.S. Toray Europe is currently importing from Japan but will switch to its own once the facility becomes operational and also plans to supply the fibre to Toray Advanced Materials in Korea
In addition, Toray Carbon Fibers America will add a new carbonisation line with an annual capacity of 2,500 tons which will start operations in September 2014. The move is aimed at catering steadily to the expanding market for environmental and energy-related applications, including the growing market in natural gas pressure vessels reflecting utilisation of shale gas in the U.S. The Group also plans to further expand the business for the Latin American market, mainly Brazil, where the market is expected to grow rapidly in the future.
The global demand for PAN-based carbon fibres was estimated to have expanded to 37,000 tons in 2011 and it is expected to grow at a rate exceeding 15% a year.