Carbon fiber reinforced polymers (CFRPs) are a critical class of performance materials, but disruptions from Covid-19 have made the future of the industry uncertain.
In a new report, The Future of Carbon Fiber Composites, Lux Research outlines major challenges and opportunities carbon fibers and CFRPs face and how standardization and recycling are enabling the CFRP market to grow to a $64 billion industry by 2030.
The carbon fiber industry is facing three major challenges: weakness in underlying markets, fiber standardization, and recycling.
Drishti Masand, research associate at Lux and lead author of the report, says: “Enabling fiber standardization and recycling of fibers is key to expanding the CFRP market.
“Standardization will be the key to enabling and expanding carbon fiber recycling into a more global and unified system, and to providing supply chain security.
“Recycled carbon fiber will expand the value of the market and create new adoption of CFRPs overall without cannibalizing existing applications.
“With a broader value chain and opportunities for more companies to manufacture with carbon fiber, the number of companies and industries looking at CFRP as a new material option will expand.”
Masand adds: “The Chinese government has already initiated precursor standardization, which could act to catalyze change across the entire industry for companies to remain competitive and maintain market share.”
Lux forecasts the CFRP market to grow to $64 billion by 2030, driven by multiple factors. Slower-than-anticipated growth in the aerospace and automotive sectors has weakened overall forecasted demand in the space, setting overall growth back four to five years.
The wind industry will become the largest consumer of CFRP by 2030 as demand for larger turbine blades for offshore applications grows.
Meanwhile, CFRP demand from the aerospace sector will take years to recover from the double hit of 737 Max production shutdowns and Covid-19 travel bans.
As a result, Lux Research predicts that thermoset composites will continue to dominate the market and grow at a faster rate than thermoplastics, with an anticipated 11 percent compound annual growth rate (CAGR) compared to thermoplastics’ 7 percent CAGR.