Hyosung-carbon fiber

SEOUL, March 27 (Yonhap) -- Hyosung Corp., a South Korean maker of textiles and heavy machinery, said Wednesday that it will start commercial operation of its carbon fiber plant in the southwestern part of the country next month.

The plant in Jeonju, 243 kilometers of Seoul will produce 2,000 tons of carbon fiber annually starting in mid-April, Hyosung said.

Carbon fiber used for auto parts and wind turbine blades is forecast to replace steel because it is 10 times stronger than steel, but weighs less than one-fourth the weight.

Hyosung said it will spend 1.2 trillion won (US$1.1 billion) to increase its annual production capacity of "TANSOME," carbon fiber which was developed by its own technology, to 17,000 tons by 2020.

Hyosung's roll-out of carbon fiber will heat up competition in the carbon fiber global market, of which 60 percent has been dominated by Japanese companies such as Toray Industries Inc. and Mitsubishi Rayon Co., market watchers said.

The market is estimated at $2 billion or 50,000 tons a year and predicted to grow to $5 billion in 2020, they said.

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