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Toray and Toyota Tsusho to jointly promote carbon fiber recycling

News International-French

24 Feb 2016

Toray Industries, Inc. and Toyota Tsusho Corporation announced they will launch a joint carbon fiber recycling initiative to develop highly efficient recycled carbon fiber 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 and Toyota Tsusho’s proposal for highly efficient recycled carbon fiber 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 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 Plant operated by Toyota Tsusho’s wholly owned subsidiary Toyota Chemical Engineering Co., Ltd. (headquarters: Nagoya, Aichi Prefecture; President: Toshio Araki). With an eye towards future commercialization, the facility will demonstrate energy-efficient recycled carbon fiber manufacturing technologies 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. As a result, demand for carbon fiber is expanding across a wide range of applications, including aircraft and automobile parts.

In conjunction with the growing demand, market expectations for the development of carbon fiber recycling technologies are rising.

Toray has taken initiatives to develop carbon fiber recycling technologies as a member of the Consortium for Carbon Fiber 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. Today, the Toyota Tsusho Group operates recycling businesses in countries around the world.

The successful development of recycled carbon fiber 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 fiber recycling initiatives and contribute to the creation of a recycling-oriented society for the entire carbon fiber lifecycle.

*Thermal decomposition method: A recycling method in which carbon fiber is recovered by heating carbon fiber composite materials and  thermally decomposing the matrix resins.