Toray Industries and Toyota Tsusho will launch a joint carbon fibre recycling initiative to develop highly efficient recycled carbon fibre manufacturing technology using an innovative and energy-efficient thermal decomposition method.
The companies’ joint proposal for this technology has been selected by the New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization (NEDO) as part of its FY2015 ‘Strategic Innovation Program for Energy Conservation Technologies’.
Toray says that it and Toyota Tsusho’s proposal for highly efficient recycled carbon fibre manufacturing relies on an innovative and energy-efficient thermal decomposition method. In this method, combustible decomposition gas from matrix resin is used as the energy source for the thermal decomposition process, which typically consumes the most energy in carbon fibre recycling. As a result, the companies expect to achieve a large reduction in the amount of energy consumed in the recycling process.
The companies plan to build a pilot plant within the Handa Plant operated by Toyota Tsusho’s wholly owned subsidiary Toyota Chemical Engineering. With an eye towards future commercialisation, the facility is expected to demonstrate energy-efficient recycled carbon fibre manufacturing technologies while promoting the development of new applications for recycled carbon fibre.
Carbon fibre is viewed as an important contributor to solving global environmental problems, as its lightweight properties significantly reduce carbon dioxide emissions over the entire lifecycle of products in which it is used. As a result, Toray explains that demand for carbon fibre is expanding across a wide range of applications, including aircraft and automobile parts.
In conjunction with the growing demand, it says market expectations for the development of carbon fibre recycling technologies are rising.
Toray has taken initiatives to develop carbon fibre recycling technologies as a member of the Consortium for Carbon Fibre Recycling Technology Development (dissolved at the end of March 2015). In the 1970s, the Toyota Tsusho Group launched a business to recover and recycle scrap iron, nonferrous metals and other resources from end-of-life vehicles. The Toyota Tsusho Group operates recycling businesses in countries around the world.
The successful development of recycled carbon fibre and its applications will require collaboration with a wide range of customers to explore the possibilities for specific types of parts and materials. Toray and Toyota Tsusho will leverage their respective expertise and know-how to jointly implement carbon fibre recycling initiatives and contribute to the creation of a recycling-oriented society for the entire carbon fibre lifecycle.
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