China’s first commercial-scale production line for carbon fiber T800 went operational at the end of May 2016. This is an important development because China could not rely on imported high-end carbon fiber. Having access to such advanced materials will enable China to innovate further in areas such as aerospace, defense, (wind) energy, and automotive.
Currently, carbon fiber is still under embargo. This means that foreign companies are not allowed to export it to China. Therefore, China must rely on its own technology and supply. Up to now China was only able to operate small scale production of T800 carbon fiber. (T800 is an indicator for the quality and properties of the fiber.) If the news sources are correct, Zhongfu Shenying Carbon Fiber can now produce such fibers at commercial scale. Such advances will surely help China. For example, it can help with future aircraft manufacturing, advance defence technologies and in producing aerospace materials. Those areas had difficulties up to now because of a limited supply of high-end carbon fiber. To a lesser extent it will also have benefits for the (wind) energy and automotive sector. While lower-grade carbon fibers are also used in those two industries, this is mainly because of the current high cost of high-end carbon fiber.
Now that a Chinese company can make large amounts of T800 carbon fiber by itself, the carbon-fiber production in China moved to a new level.
Carbon Fiber Production in China
The first T800 production line in China was operational in 2012 and had an annual production scale of 25 tons. The Lianyungang development zone accounts for about two-thirds of Chinse carbon fiber production capacity. According to industry estimates, the production capacity will reach easily over 10,000 tons nowadays.
The T800 fiber is currently one of the highest strength carbon fibers that are produced in the world. The applications are broad: it is used in the field of aerospace and other fields.
China is considering more than just military applications for its improved carbon fibers. The carbon can also be used in civil aircraft. According to sources, the Chinese companies are looking into options to use more and better carbon in the C929 widebody aircraft of COMAC. This plane will follow-up the C919 and is planned to conduct its first flight in 2022 and be put into production in 2025. The current C919 only uses carbon fiber in its tail and secondary structures.
However, there are even ambitions to supply and improve the global market. One company: Jiangsu Hangke Composite Materials Technology was willing to discuss the properties of its materials at an open convention. Jiangsu Hangke is associated with the government’s Chinese Academy of Sciences.