Toray, Toyota Tsusho launch composites recycling effort

The companies will build a pilot plant in Japan for the development of a thermal decomposition process, and also work on applications for recycled material.

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Toray Industries Inc. (Tokyo, Japan) and Toyota Tsusho Corp. (Nagoya, Aichi Prefecture, Japan) on Feb. 18 announced they will launch a joint carbon fiber recycling initiative to develop an efficient recycled carbon fiber manufacturing technology using what is said to be an 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 a 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. (Nagoya). The facility will demonstrate recycled carbon fiber manufacturing technologies while promoting the development of new applications for recycled carbon fiber.

Toray notes that the successful development of recycled carbon fiber and its applications will require collaboration with a range of customers to explore the possibilities for specific types of parts and materials.

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