Green tie-ups: Teijin to partner with Fuji Design in carbon fibre recycling; Mitsubishi Chemical to build bio-based MMA pilot plant

Teijin to partner with Fuji Design in carbon fibre recycling

Japanese firm Teijin Limited has agreed to form a business alliance with Fuji Design Co., a Japanese manufacturer of recycled carbon fibres to establish a business structure for the production, supply and commercialisation of carbon fibre reinforced plastic (CFRP) products made from recycled carbon fibres using a low environmental impact process.

Fuji Design’s proprietary “precision pyrolysis” technology produces high-quality carbon fibres from used CFRP by removing matrix resins. As a green technology, it produces some 90% fewer CO2 emissions than carbon fibres produced with virgin raw materials. Fuji Design, which is operating a commercial plant partially subsidised by Japan’s Ministry of the Environment, has been looking to expand the business by developing new applications for its technology.

Teijin, meanwhile, has been striving to lower its groupwide environmental impact, including by reducing its fiscal 2018-level CO2 emissions by 30% as of fiscal 2030 and to net-zero by fiscal 2050. Along with efforts to reduce in-house energy consumption, Teijin also has been developing technologies to recycle materials including carbon fibers.

Lightweight and high-strength CFRP, which already is used widely in aircraft, industrial and sports applications, is expected to attract increasing demand as a solution for improving the fuel efficiency of vehicles and other products. The challenge, however, is to urgently establish technologies for the reuse of carbon fibres, thereby helping to eliminate the material’s high-impact disposal in landfills or via incineration.

In other news, compatriot Japanese firm Mitsubishi Chemical Corporation (MCC) and its subsidiary Mitsubishi Chemical Methacrylates (MCM) have developed a manufacturing technology for MMA (methyl methacrylate) monomers that uses plant-derived materials and have begun designing a pilot plant.

Mitsubishi Chemical to build bio-based MMA pilot plant

The two companies define MMA monomers manufactured by the following three methods as "sustainable MMA" and are working on the development of the manufacturing technology.

i) Molecular recycling that collects, decomposes and reuses used acrylic resin

ii) New manufacturing technology that applies plant-derived raw materials to the existing MMA monomer manufacturing process

iii) New manufacturing technology to directly manufacture MMA monomers from plant-derived raw materials by fermentation

Promising results using method No. 2 have prompted the group to begin the design process for a new pilot plant. Applying plant-derived raw materials to the existing process will enable the production of MMA using 100% bio-derived carbon. The pilot plant will be put into operation in fiscal year 2023 and, after demonstrating the technology’s viability, the goal is to apply it to existing commercial-scale plants in 2026.

The group is also developing innovative catalysts and processes to improve productivity in its existing MMA monomer manufacturing technologies, striving to reduce environmental impact by reducing energy consumption and emissions during manufacturing.

MMA is a raw material for acrylic resin used in automobile lamp covers, signboards, aquarium tanks, paints, building materials and many other items.

Global demand for MMA has exceeded 3.6 million tonnes and is expected to continue to grow at the same level as GDP in every country.

As the world's No.1 manufacturer with the top share in the MMA and acrylic resin industry, MCC says it will pursue the potential of this business, work with stakeholders around the world to reduce the environmental burden of the entire supply chain and seek to actively lead the efforts to realise a circular economy.


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