Zoltek has taken a step toward growing its carbon fibre prepreg capabilities by expanding into a new 135,000 sq ft. facility just outside of St. Louis, US to house its prepreg manufacturing and new Technical Centre.
Zoltek say they are making the move in response to the growing demand of a low-cost carbon fibre prepreg supply in wind energy and other applications. “Our strategy has been to commercialize carbon fibre and broaden its use in industrial applications through low-cost and supply availability”, says CEO Zsolt Rumy. “Unfortunately, the current carbon fibre prepreg supply is fragmented and geared towards aerospace markets rather than industrial use. We are addressing this shortfall by consolidating the supply chain and forward integrating into prepreg manufacturing for select industrial applications.”
St. Louis is home to Zoltek’s headquarters as well as one of their four carbon fibre manufacturing facilities. Zoltek explain that, in addition to manufacturing prepreg carbon fibre, the new location will also serve as a technical centre for carbon fibre applications, specifically targeting wind energy and automotive applications.
According to Zoltek, Wind energy is a leading application for their prepreg carbon fibre due to its unique and inherent characteristics (high-stiffness, high-strength, lightweight). They say recent trends in wind energy have spurred wind blade manufactures to create longer turbine blades which generate more energy. Carbon fibre composites have proven ideal for wind blade turbine reinforcement, enabling longer blades to capture more wind energy, even at lower wind speeds, and convert it to electricity.
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