QINGDAO, China—Black Cat, China's largest carbon black maker, is planning to break ground on a research institute in Qingdao by the end of this year.
The company plans to invest $23.2 million in the Black Cat New Materials Institute specializing in nanocarbon composite materials, carbon nanocubes and the like. "It will be China's largest research facility [in investment] in the sector," the company said.
The new site, located in the city's Sino-German Ecopark with a roughly 290,600-sq.-ft. area, has two phases. Phase one includes a research lab and pilot trial plant; Phase two includes another pilot trial plant and an office building.
Each pilot trial plant has 5,000 metric ton annual capacity, the company said. The project is expected to fully come on stream in 2019.
Black Cat currently has nearly 1.1 million ton per year capacity. Over the first half of 2017 the company reported a 57 percent jump in revenue to $467.2 million. Net profit over the same period reached $33.1 million, compared to over $7 million net loss in the first half of 2016.
China's supply side reform and tightened control over financial leverage and environmental compliance have lowered the capacity utilization rate of carbon black companies, especially those in north China near Beijing, according to the firm's half year report.
The market was centralized in favor of large companies, and a stable demand added to Black Cat's second half performance, the report noted. The company's gross margin for carbon black business rose by 9 percent during the period to 22 percent.