Japanese firms Toray Industries Inc. and Toyota Tsusho Corporation have announced they will launch a joint carbon-fiber recycling initiative to develop a recycled carbon fiber manufacturing technology that will use an energy-efficient thermal decomposition method. The companies’ joint proposal has been selected by the New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization as part of its fiscal year 2015 “Strategic Innovation Program for Energy Conservation Technologies.”
The companies’ proposal for highly efficient recycled carbon fiber manufacturing relies on an energy-efficient thermal decomposition method in which 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 fiber 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, Japan, plant operated by Toyota Tsusho’s wholly owned subsidiary Toyota Chemical Engineering Co. Ltd. With an eye toward future commercialization, the facility will validate energy-efficient recycled carbon fiber manufacturing while promoting the development of new applications for recycled carbon fiber.
Carbon fiber 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. Demand for carbon fiber is expanding across a wide range of applications, including aircraft and automobile parts.