Russia launched what its backers say will be one of the world's biggest and most advanced carbon fiber production plants to date.
The Alabuga-Fibre operation, a 52 million euro ($58.5 million) joint enterprise of the Holding Co. Composite group and the Rosatom State Atomic Energy Corp., was officially inaugurated in May at the Alabuga Special Economic Zone in Tatarstan.
With a planned capacity of four separate lines and 10,000 metric tons per year of carbon fiber materials, the new facility is expected to provide around 7 percent of the global carbon fiber market by 2020, according to HC Composite.
Initially, the plant will operate just one line with 1,700 tonnes of annual output which Alabuga-Fibre later intends to optimize to reach a 2,000 tonnes of annual capacity.
The official site launch was attended by Rustam Minnikhanov, president of the semi-autonomous Russian republic of Tatarstan along with HC Composite group CEO Leonid Melamed and Aleksandr Lokshin, deputy head of Rosatom.
The facility will turn out various types of carbon fiber to be used in a range of Russian and foreign industries including aerospace, automotive and wind energy applications. The material will also be employed in road and bridge construction areas.
The new plant will be chiefly export-oriented, according to HC Composite's business development director Daniel Pichler. But output supplied to the domestic market will largely substitute the current foreign imports.
The company says the global carbon fiber market, currently amounting to 60,000 metric tons per year, is growing at between 10 and 15 percent per year. Growth, being driven mainly by the automotive and wind energy markets, is predicted to grow to 150,000 tonnes by 2020.
“The opening of this plant will help to increase production of the composite [material] in Russia by four times, therefore the initial cost of the material will decrease and become more widely used,” Rosatom's Lokshin said at the Alabuga-Fibre launch.