Mitsubishi to Buy SGL Carbon Fiber Plant in US
Mitsubishi Chemical Holdings will acquire a 1,000 t/y carbon fiber plant at Evanston in the US state of Wyoming from Germany’s SGL Carbon under a deal announced this week. The transaction worth “several billion yen” will be concluded by Mitsubishi Rayon’s US subsidiary Mitsubishi Rayon Carbon Fibers & Composites and is due to be completed in April.
The Japanese group said it wants to expand its carbon fiber capacity to meet increasing demand for the strong lightweight material from the automotive and wind energy industries. Mitubishi Rayon (MRC) announced in September 2016 it would increase its combined large-tow carbon fiber output in the US and Japan by around 30% by the 2017 second quarter, with capacity rising to 13,300 t/y from 10,100 t/y. Earmarked for expansion were facilities at Otake, Japan, and Sacramento, California, USA.
The German group plans to focus its carbon fiber production at two major sites – Moses Lake, Washington, and Muir of Ord, Scotland – in order to “further enhance” the efficiency of its production network. Production lines in Muir of Ord have been upgraded over the last two years, absorbing the capacity formerly located in Wyoming.
SGL said the Moses Lake facility – a joint venture with automaker BMW – is “the largest and most modern heavy tow carbon fiber plant in the world,” and Muir of Ord a “well-established and highly flexible competence center” for carbon fibers in Europe. The Scottish facility produces a broad range of products and materials ranging from heavy tow via oxidized fibers to short cut fiber.
In 2011, SGL and MRC established a joint venture to produce polyacrylonitrile (PAN)-based precursor fiber, the starting material for carbon fiber – at MRC’s Otake site. Output is aimed at supplying Asian customers of the SGL joint venture with BMW.