Published Date : Jan 12, 2016
Carbon fiber is a type of fiber that can be used in conjunction with other conventional materials or as a standalone material in construction of various kinds. Carbon fibers are lightweight and offer a much higher strength-to-weight ratio than most conventional construction materials, such as steel or aluminum. Carbon fibers are now increasingly being used in diverse end-use industries such as wind energy and automotive. Both industries are constantly in need of materials that can offer high mechanical output at low weight, which has benefited the carbon fiber market.
In the wind energy sector, carbon fiber is used in the rotor blades of wind turbines. These lightweight rotor blades can be operated at much lower wind speeds than conventional blades and thus enable generation of more electricity than is possible with conventional materials.
In the automotive industry, carbon fiber is used in several design components to reduce the overall weight of the vehicle. A lighter vehicle emits less toxic emissions and uses less fuel than a vehicle built with conventional materials. The major restraint on the carbon fiber is its high cost at present, which negate the possibility of large-scale usage of carbon fiber in large-volume automotive categories such as passenger cars. Presently, major usage of carbon fiber is restricted to sports cars, in which the utilization of carbon fiber enhance the performance of the vehicle by making it lightweight. Cars such as the Lamborghini Sesto Elemento, launched in 2011, are made almost entirely out of carbon fiber, but are consequently out of reach of the average customer. Reducing the cost of carbon fiber is the challenge facing the global carbon fiber market at present.
The global carbon fiber market is expected to rise tremendously in the coming years, due to steady demand from these two major end users. Wind energy is expected as a major part of the global renewable energy scenario in the coming years, whereas demand from the automotive industry has steadily grown in the past few years due to rising prosperity of customers in developing regions.