consumption volume for p-aramids and m-aramids reached 6 to 7 percent. These two fiber types represent more than 90 percent of worldwide demand for high-performance organic fibers and can therefore be used as a good approximation of general consumption trends. By 2002, the demand for p-aramid alone had risen to approximately 90 million pounds, more than two times the demand for PAN-based carbon fiber.8

Production Capacity and Price for High-Performance Organic Fibers

In the mid-1990s, substantial production capacity existed for high-performance organic fibers in the United States, Europe, and Japan. Worldwide production capacity in 1994 was estimated to be approximately 132 million pounds, with the largest capacity (72 million pounds) located in the United States.9p-Aramid fibers accounted for the largest production capacity (89 million pounds), followed by m-aramids (36.1 million pounds), UHMPEs (approximately 5 million pounds), LCPs (approximately 1.1 million pounds), and PBOs (0.4 million pounds).

Current Status and Trends of the Organic Fiber Industry

The high-performance organic fiber industry has grown steadily in recent decades. From the beginning, the industry’s dependence on high-volume commercial applications, rather than DoD applications, has contributed to this stability. Demand for high-performance organic fibers remains high, as a result of their broad range of applications, and there is potential for future growth. Installed production capacity is significantly larger than that for carbon fibers, and although it was adequate to meet the needs in the past, the committee sees indications of reaching the limits of existing capacity. New applications that are being developed will be able to take advantage of incremental increases in existing production capabilities but should anticipate major investment decisions in this industry in the next 5 to 10 years. The continuing tailoring of products to applications leads to a fragmentation of existing production capability, and thus, analysis of total capacity may result in misleading conclusions.

In the case of high-performance organic fibers, developments will continue to be driven by the commercial sector. DoD represents a small portion of the total organic fiber market, but an important one for products tailored to its applications. As such, DoD may be able to continue to take advantage of the base created by commercially driven developments, but it will have to take its specialized uses into account. Future DoD usage will likely have a significant impact on the development and commercialization of the new fiber, M5.

Investments Plans Announced in 2004 by DuPont and Honeywell

DuPont has disclosed plans to expand production of its high-performance DuPont Kevlar p-aramid. DuPont plans to invest more than $70 million in this project and is beginning the equipment procurement process. The expansion will increase global Kevlar capacity by more than 10 percent. The project is scheduled to come online in phases between late 2005 and the first half of 2006. The specific expansion locations will be finalized as required to meet the projected start-up dates. This is the fourth expansion that DuPont has made in Kevlar p-aramid capacity since 2000 due to growing customer demand for this high-strength fiber that supports global safety and performance applications. In addition to these expansions, DuPont continues to increase capacity by optimizing the productivity of existing assets through the use of Six Sigma processes. Between 2000 and 2003, DuPont completed three Kevlar high-performance fiber expansion projects at its Richmond, Virginia, Vancouver, British Columbia, and Maydown, Northern Ireland, facilities. The 2003 expansion and the latest announced expansion both incorporate proprietary New Fiber Technology (NFT) developed and patented by DuPont.

Honeywell announced a $20 million investment to boost production of Spectra fiber to meet increased demand from the North American armor industry. Honeywell expects to make several similar-sized investments in Honeywell Performance Products over the next few years to boost Spectra fiber production. The current investment will take place at Spectra fiber manufacturing facilities in the

8  

D.J. DeLong. 2002. Carbon fiber cost analysis and trends, presentation at the Global Outlook for Carbon Fiber, Raleigh, N.C., October 21-23, 2002.

9  

Chemical Economics Handbook. 1995. Menlo Park, Calif.: SRI Consulting.



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