Indian billionaire Kumar Mangalam Birla is exploring entry into the production of carbon fiber, a high-strength and light-weight composite material expected to be a $4.7 billion global business by 2022, according to a person familiar with his thinking.
The Aditya Birla Group, the $40 billion mining-to-mobile phone carrier conglomerate, may buy the technology to manufacture carbon fiber at one of its existing overseas manufacturing facilities, said the person, asking not to be identified because the plan is private. Another option is to buy a carbon fiber plant from another company if the technology is too complex to be adapted at Birla plants, the person said.
Carbon fiber is finding increasing traction among defense manufacturers and automobiles makers that seek strong, high-tensile, heat-resistant and light materials. The market for carbon fiber — dubbed the ‘wonder material’ by The Guardian newspaper last month — is estimated to more than double to about $4.7 billion by 2022 from $2.2 billion in 2015, according to an Allied Market Research report.
“The main positive is that it’s a much lighter material versus competitors such as steel or aluminium — but is just as strong,” said Johnson Imode, a London-based analyst with Bloomberg Intelligence. “This makes for energy and efficiency savings for customers.”
The group’s consideration is still at an exploratory stage and there’s no timeline for entering this business, the person said. The demand from the automobile sector is particularly high as designers aim to make cars both lighter, stronger and less polluting, according to this person. A company spokeswoman didn’t respond to a request for comment.