Both established carbon fiber producers, and newcomers that restrict themselves to the last stage – the production of carbon fibers, have to battle with the inconsistent qualities of the PAN precursors available in the market. One problem for carbon fiber producers is the shortage of high-quality precursors, the other is the variable quality of the various precursors available on the market.
In order to run a plant cost-effectively, it is essential to obtain PAN precursors with consistently high qualities as a raw material for the production of carbon fibers. This is especially the case for the carbon fibers used in high-performance composite materials for the aerospace industry, Formula 1 and high-performance mechanical engineering.
As is generally known, each fiber plant is unique, and requires specific, precisely determined setting parameters in order to turn out high-quality products. It may therefore be necessary to adapt the quality of the precursor precisely to the requirements of the downstream carbon fiber plant. This is practically impossible in non-integrated production plants, for which the precursors are bought in. The EPC Group has therefore conducted a lot of research to develop a self-contained plant system.
The experts in the EPC Group have developed tailor-made, integrated production concepts. They run from the PAN polymerization, through making the dope and spinning to produce the PAN precursor, to the final carbon fiber. Our complete concept integrates quality-relevant ancillary plants, such as solvent recovery and utility preparation, as well as the appropriate, high-quality handling of intermediate and end products.
This holistic approach enables synergies and interconnections to be used to achieve efficient energy consumption. It also enables our customers to optimize their entire process, and produce a high yield of high-quality fibers continuously. End-to-end quality assurance is also ensured from the AN raw material through to the individual carbon fiber spool. This is an important selection criterion for high end applications, and can become a unique selling point for our customer.
As we know that such a complex production plant cannot be commissioned and run without professional assistance, we support our customers closely until the planned product quality is attained.
EPC variPLANT® gives you the following competitive advantages:
EPC PETvantage® is the most cost-effective alternative to investing in a new plant. Depending on the plant configuration, a return on the investment is usually achieved in less than 2 years. In most cases, the main reactors do not need to be replaced. Operational safety, product qualities and production capacities are increased by a multiple, depending on the basic design of the plant and the space available on site.
EPC PETvantage® generates very high profits, mainly through quality assurance and the consequent greater competitiveness:
Commercial and qualitative advantages of EPC inside PET®:
EPC Group has vast experience in the polymers and fibers industry and offers complete engineering packages in delivering world-class polymer/fiber manufacturing plants. For the production of high-quality PETG, PCT, PCTG and PCTA, EPC Group offers its modern CHDM Hydrogenation Technology for the production of top-grade CHDM.
EPC’s highly efficient and flexible continuous hydrogenation process guarantees a feasible production of top quality CHDM. Furthermore, having your own state-of-the-art CHDM production line will ensure a continuous supply of high-grade CHDM as raw material for the manufacturing of high value polyesters resin for the fast growing technical applications in electronics, food and medical packaging, construction components and consumer goods.
In the refining process, the desired additives are added to the raw polymer material in a mixer, and intermingled in the extruder. The melt is then allowed to solidify again in a cooling trough, after which it is cut up in the granulator. With the masterbatch process, EPC enables its customers to change the products their plants produce quickly and keep cleaning costs low. Energy-efficient extruder systems are long lasting, and economical because the waste heat from the extruders is fed back into the entire plant for re-use.
Theprocess patented by EPC enables the material to be optimally substituted by means of nitrogen evolution in combination with a higher pressure. This significantly reduces the extract content in the granulate, while at the same time enriching the extract water to about 18%, and achieving a considerably more consistent retention time. This minimizes fluctuations in the extraction concentration.
The extraction process developed by EPC can also be used in existing plants without requiring any large investments or lengthy modernisation times. A special device distributes nitrogen into up to 16 extraction zones in the column. Granulate flows from top to bottom through a packed bed in the device.
The nitrogen and extract water are fed upwards in a counter-flow. The extraction rate depends on the number of trays, which is determined on a case by case basis. The device consists of trays arranged one above the other. Nitrogen is distributed homogeneously through these trays.
Advantages of the solution patented by EPC:
EPC has developed a reactor material based on a special aluminium alloy that is inert under the reaction conditions (no material abrasion), and consequently has no effect on the reaction medium (no uncontrolled reaction behaviour). The material is used in the manufacture of the reactor and in the up and downstream stages involved in the polymerization reaction. Plant components made of this material do not have to be replaced during the projected lifetime of the plant.
Avoiding deposits building up lengthens production cycles. Less frequent cleaning increases the production capacity and reduces the use of cleansers. The material has strength properties similar to those of steel, and can be worked with conventional machining and forming processes (rolling, bending, grinding, polishing, welding).
Choosing EPC variPILOT® is a good decision. We examine the site, and specify the future location of your pilot plant before we configure it. We plan and construct your specific test plant in accordance with the conditions, the product parameters and your requirements. We deliver your variPILOT®plant pre-assembled, so it can be quickly and easily installed and commissioned.