Reliance investing in India’s first carbon fibre unit

NEW DELHI, June 16: Reliance Industries is investing in setting up India’s first carbon fibre manufacturing unit to cater to aerospace and defence needs, the company said in its annual report.

The owner of world’s largest oil refining complex will also make low-cost and high-volume composite products like modular toilets, homes and composites for windmill blades and rotor blades.

Without giving investment details, Reliance in its latest annual report said it has developed capabilities for 3D printing of wide-range of plastic and metals products.

Reliance is developing new business verticals in the petrochemicals business to capture Rs 30,000 crore composites market and has plans to produce graphene, enhanced plastics and elastomers, fibre reinforced composites which can replace steel.

A composite is an engineered material made from two or more ingredients with significantly differing properties, either physical or chemical. One of the most common forms of composite in use today is carbon fibre. It is made by heating lengths of rayon, pitch or other types of fibre to extremely high temperatures in an oxygen-deprived oven. The resultant rayon strands are spun into a thread, then woven into sheets and mixed with hardening resins to form the various components needed.

“RIL is investing in India’s first and largest carbon fibre production line with its own technology – to cater to India’s aerospace and defence needs as well as the specialty industrial applications,” it said.

It had last year acquired the assets of Kemrock Industries to enter the composites business and is focusing on thermoset composites such as glass and carbon Fibre-Reinforced Polymers (FRPs).

“The ability to deliver exceptional strength (similar to or better than steel) at a significantly lower weight is a critical performance attribute of FRPs. Additionally, FRPs can withstand harsh weather, have a long life with minimal maintenance, are corrosion resistant and can be moulded into any shape,” it said.

Composites are used in a wide range of markets and applications: industrial, railways, renewable energy, defence and aerospace.

“RIL expects the newly launched Reliance Composites Solutions (RCS) business to be the No. 1 composites player in India,” the company said.

Stating that it will focus on design and specifications driven markets and applications that have the potential to grant better returns, it said the focus areas include wind mill blades and parts for railways and metros, which have exacting standards of performance and safety (especially fire retardant).

Also on the radar are carbon wraps to rehabilitate/refurbish India’s old infrastructure – bridges, buildings (for improved seismic performance) and pipes.

“RCS will design and administer low-cost and high-volume products such as modular toilets and homes to support the Swachh Bharat Mission, disaster relief measures and Housing for All programmes initiated by the Indian Government,” the annual report said.

RIL said industrial 3D printing (especially with metal) is reaching an inflection point and the company has developed the capabilities to design and print a wide range of products using 3D printing technology – in both plastic and metal – from prototypes to functional parts. (PTI)


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