Energy consumption to be reduced by 50%, Mitsui Chemicals to build eco-friendly carbon fibre demonstration line
Mitsui Chemical Co,. Ltd. and Nippon Microwave Chemical Co., Ltd. will jointly establish a production facility to demonstrate the basic technology associated with the manufacture of environmentally friendly carbon fibres. The demonstration production application facility, scheduled for completion in December 2023, will be located at Mitsui Chemicals' Nagoya plant.
This follows a report issued by Microwave Chemicals Ltd. that the company has successfully created an innovative carbon fibre production technology. This technology combines the raw filament oxidation process (the most energy-intensive part of the carbon fibre production process) with the carbonisation process. This integrated microwave-based heating process has been named Carbon-MX.
Microwave Chemicals Ltd. will supply Mitsui Chemicals Ltd. with all the equipment based on Carbon-MX technology. Mitsui Chemicals will complete the complete production line, which will also include the process elements involving Carbon-MX technology. Following the completion of the demonstration facility, the two companies will jointly explore the development of mass production technology.
A joint announcement in 2022 states that the new technology enables a process innovation that uses the ability of microwaves to heat the target material from within, minimising unnecessary heat generation. This will significantly reduce the time spent on heat treatment compared to existing methods, resulting in shorter heating process lines and the creation of more compact production facilities. In addition, the technology is expected to offer significant advantages and benefits in terms of equipment costs, energy costs and safety, as the equipment itself will not reach high temperatures.
Mitsui Chemicals Ltd. and Microwave Chemicals Ltd. expect to reduce energy consumption by 50% with the new technology in operation. In addition, if further renewable energy is used to generate microwaves, the projected CO2 emissions will also be reduced by more than 90%, with significant environmental benefits.
The announcement states that Mitsui Chemicals Ltd and Microwave Chemical Co Ltd will implement Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) in the hope of minimising carbon emissions throughout the value chain. The two companies will fully service industrial sectors that plan to use carbon fibres, including areas such as mobile mobility, in an effort to meet the growing demand for carbon neutrality in the industrial sector.
Notably, the two companies are also working together to commercialise a chemical recycling technology that uses microwave chemistry based on technology developed by PlaWave Microwave to break down automotive structural component shredding residues (ASR) and sheet molding compound (SMC) products directly into raw material monomers.