The continued easing of lending standards and increased funding support from state and local construction measures are other major drivers for the U.S. construction market.

Due to climate change and the occurrence of natural calamities (like earthquakes and hurricanes), the major challenges facing U.S. infrastructure require strong research efforts and increased use of advanced technologies and materials. Composites are increasingly being used to repair and retrofit structures built with other materials.

The pipe and tank market was flat in 2019 as oil and gas activities declined due to disruption by Hurricane Barry in the Gulf of Mexico and slow growth in oil demand. FRP pipes and tanks are not only used in oil and gas applications, but also have huge opportunities in chemical, industrial, water/wastewater and sewage applications. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, more than 40% of water pipelines are in poor to life-elapsed conditions and require correction (repairs for old pipes and installation of new pipes), which, in turn, will drive demand for FRP pipes.

In terms of supply and demand, global glass fiber capacity was 12.8 billion pounds in 2019 and is currently running at 91% utilization. Lucintel predicts that the fiberglass plant capacity utilization will go down slightly to approximately 90% in 2020 as glass fiber producers add more production capacities.

To fulfill the increasing demand for glass fiber in various applications, companies are trying to grow both organically and inorganically. In 2019, Jushi USA put its alkali-free fiber production line into operation with an annual capacity of 96,000 tons and a total investment of $350 million, whereas Nippon Electrical Glass acquired the remaining PPG USA fiberglass operations in 2017-18 with a value of $550 million.

The Carbon Fiber Market

By Daniel Pichler, Managing Director

CarbConsult GmbH

In 2019, demand for carbon fiber globally totaled approximately 100,000 metric tons. The market continues to grow at 10 to 12% per year, fueled by incremental volume gains in carbon fiber use in aerospace, wind turbine blades and several other industrial applications. Growth at this rate is likely to continue for the foreseeable future.

The approximate breakdown of carbon fiber use by market segment is as follows:

  • Wind energy – 25%
  • Aerospace – 20%
  • Sporting goods – 10 to 12%
  • Automotive – 10 to 12%
  • Compounding for injection molded plastics – 5 to 8%
  • Pressure vessels – 5 to 8%
  • Construction and infrastructure – 5 to 8%
  • Other market segments – 15%

All market segments show significant potential for growth as additional applications and new programs come into production.