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Lenzing To Add Carbon Fiber Production

Austria-based fiber producer Lenzing Group has announced plans to add carbon fiber to its portfolio of fiber products. Lenzing AG subsidiary Lenzing Plastics GmbH, and Germany-based partners SGL Carbon AG and Kelheim Fibres GmbH have formed European Precursor GmbH, a joint venture that will produce primary materials for carbon fibers at Kelheim’s facility. The deal, which involves a 50 million euro investment in capacity expansion, is contingent on regulatory approval.

Lenzing announced it also is in negotiations to form a second joint venture for the production of carbon fibers.

“Expanding into the new business field of carbon fibers opens additional and attractive growth potential for our business unit Plastics,” said Thomas Fahnemann, chairman of Lenzing’s Management Board. The company believes carbon fiber’s high strength makes it the “construction material of the future” and expects the carbon-fiber market to achieve 10-percent annual growth rates, with increased use in the aerospace, wind power, sports, racing yacht and automotive sectors.

According to Fahnemann, current demand for carbon fiber exceeds supply. “Especially the high-quality carbon fiber sector lacks capacity, which we will create in the next year,” he said. “ SGL Carbon [is] the global leader in carbon fiber production, whose expertise in the market, as well as in production and sales, makes it the ideal complement to the fiber expertise of Lenzing and Kelheim Fibres.”

March/April 2007