July 2017

Carbon Conversions, Inc.

THE PROJECT

In July 2017, AMCREF Community Capital provided $10.3 million of NMTC financing to Carbon Conversions, Inc. (“CCI”). CCI is a recycler of carbon fiber and manufacturer of carbon based products. The plant is bringing high quality manufacturing jobs to two severely distressed communities in SC, Lake City and Chesnee, which suffer from high unemployment of 20.7% and 14.3%, respectively. Currently 100,000 metric tonnes per year of virgin, primary carbon is produced from hydrocarbons (oil, natural gas) in an energy intensive and expensive process that can cost up to $16/lb. Carbon is increasingly replacing titanium, aluminum, steel and magnesium in the aircraft and automotive industries. Virgin carbon is required for the highest end products, such as air frame components for the new Boeing 787. In the process of making high end products from virgin carbon, up to 40% of the carbon used becomes scrap. Currently, there are few alternatives for utilizing this scrap carbon and it has been piling up in storage facilities or improperly disposed of in landfills. CCI has a proprietary, patented process, at a significantly lower cost of less than $9/lb, and is the only commercially viable recycler of carbon fiber in the U.S. CCI’s recycled carbon is used for lower end carbon products in the transportation industry.

COMMUNITY IMPACT

  • Job Creation and Support: Total of 225 FTEs, including 70 FTEs retained and 155 FTEs created over the next three years; 20 direct construction jobs. CCI provides full benefits and pays average wages well above the local living wage. CCI provides internal training and specialized training via 3rd party programs.
  • Environmental Benefits: Facility will recycle up to 4,200 lbs of carbon fiber per year, reducing landfill waste and the related potential for leaching epoxy chemicals into groundwater supply. Recycling carbon fiber uses 95% less energy and generates 95% fewer greenhouse gas emissions compared to creating an equivalent amount of “virgin” carbon fiber, which is made from oil or natural gas. Increased use of carbon fiber improves fuel efficiency throughout the transportation sector by replacing aluminum or steel with a lighter weight material.
  • Community Support and Impacts: Over 92% of FTEs are/will be local hires and 88% are accessible to individuals without a college degree. 36% of employees are minorities. CCI works with Florence County Economic Development’s workforce program to source some FTEs. CCI is bringing valuable new high quality manufacturing jobs to communities suffering from very high unemployment (20.7% and 14.3%).
  • Economic / Catalytic Effects: CCI is strongly supported by local municipalities and economic development groups, including tax abatements and a favorable lease for their Lake City manufacturing facility site from Florence County. Lake City’s economy is dominated by agricultural industries, primarily tobacco and beans. CCI helps to diversify the local economy and provide more lucrative manufacturing jobs.