Three Japanese companies have taken the lead in carbon fibre production. The companies -- Toray, Teijin and Mitsubishi Rayon -- along with the University of Tokyo are developing a government-funded project that involves the country’s three major players along with a promise to resolve the major issue of its current high cost that is prohibiting progress in a number of industries, most notably the mass consumer car market.
Speaking at the 2nd International Composites Congress held in Dusseldorf, Germany, on November 29th, managing director of Japan’s National Composites Centre based at Nagoya University, Professor Takashi Ishikawa, spoke of new carbon fibres that are now nearing commercialisation following the Innovative Carbon Fibre Project over the past few years. They are based on new fibre precursors which require no oxidisation and with carbonization being carried out by microwave the key energy consuming stages in carbon fibre production which limit the output of current lines to around 2,000 tons a year along with a dry plasma surface treatment.
These three features particularly the elimination of oxidisation will result in great energy savings in carbon fibre processing, cutting energy consumption by more than fifty per cent compared to the current so-called Shindoh Process. This means that the lowest cost carbon fibres will be realised once full scale lines are in operation. The potential output per line will be more than 20,000 tons annually.