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Toray and Toyota Tsusho to launch carbon-fiber recycling initiative

| By Mary Bailey

Toray Industries Inc. (Tokyo, Japan; and Toyota Tsusho Corp. announced that 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.

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.