This would be one of the largest capacities of a single plant in the world. With the first expansion underway, the company plans to complete a carbon fiber plant with an annual capacity of 2,000 tons in January 2020 and begin full-scale production in February.
When the addition of 10 lines is completed by 2028, Hyosung’s global market share will rise from 11th (2 %) as of 2019 to 3rd (10 %) in the world. Employment is also expected to increase from the current 400 to more than 2,300 new jobs by 2028.
The event included an “agreement ceremony for facility expansion and investment support” between Hyosung and the government and local municipalities, including Jeollabuk-do and Jeonju and an “alliance MOU ceremony” aimed at strengthening cooperation including joint testing between the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy, Hyosung, and relevant companies, such as Iljin Materials, and Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI).
Carbon fiber a “staple of future industries”
As a strategic material used in aviation, space, and defense, it is difficult to transfer technology as well as develop it independently, which is why only a few countries have such technology. Hyosung became the first Korean company to develop carbon fiber “Tansome” based on its own technology in collaboration with Jeollabuk-do, Jeonju and the Korea Institute of Carbon Convergence Technology in 2011 and has been manufacturing products since 2013. It marked the world’s fourth development after Japan, the U.S., and Germany.
Expandability of upstream industries including the hydrogen sector
Carbon fiber is also regarded as a key material in the hydrogen economy. The government announced a roadmap to revitalize the hydrogen economy in January and said that it will use hydrogen, which has wide-ranging economic and industrial impacts, as its future growth engine.
To this end, the company plans to expand the number of hydrogen cars from around 1,800 in 2018 to about 81,000 by 2022 and around 6.2 million by 2040. Hydrogen cars are gaining attention as future eco-friendly vehicles that reduce carbon dioxide emissions thanks to their lightweight.
Carbon fiber is a key material for hydrogen vehicle’s fuel tanks and is essential for the safe storage, transportation and utilization of hydrogen energy. The hydrogen fuel tank is a cylindrical container made of plastic, which is wrapped with carbon fiber to increase its strength and stability. Carbon fiber is a core material for hydrogen fuel tanks that are light but must withstand hundreds of times higher pressure than normal air.
The carbon fiber market for hydrogen fuel tanks is expected to grow more than 120 times by 2030.
Chairman Hyun-Joon Cho said:
“We will play a pivotal role in making Korea a ‘material powerhouse’ by growing carbon fiber”
Chairman Hyun-Joon Cho said during the event:
“We took note of the future value of carbon fiber and started to develop our own technology. The potential for the upstream industry of carbon fiber is limitless. As the hydrogen economy has opened a new market of carbon fiber, we will play a pivotal role in making Korea a ‘material powerhouse’.”
“We were able to become the world’s No.1 in many areas including spandex and tire cords because we were fully committed to staying ahead of our competitors by developing our own technologies from material to production. We will continue our challenges to plant seeds for another material business.”