Mitsui Chemicals Announces Demonstration Plant for New Carbon Fiber Manufacturing Process – Chemical Engineering

November 21, 2022 | By Mary Bailey

Mitsui Chemicals, Inc. (Tokyo) and Microwave Chemical Co. Ltd. (Suita, Japan) announced that they have decided to establish a new demonstration facility within the Nagoya Works of Mitsui Chemicals. The facility will showcase key technologies related to the production of environmentally friendly carbon fiber, an endeavor that Mitsui Chemicals and Microwave Chemical recently announced they will jointly explore. Earlier, the companies said they would too cooperation in the field of processing technologies.

Microwave Chemical has created an innovative carbon fiber manufacturing technology that combines the oxidation process – the most energy-intensive part of carbon fiber production – with the carbonization process. This led to an integrated heating process based on microwave power. And now Microwave Chemical has named this technology Carbon-MX. The investment in this project is about 2 billion yen, and the construction should be completed by the end of 2023.

Full line rendering of the demonstration facility (Source: Mitsui Chemical)

Microwave Chemical will contribute to the installation of the demonstration facility by providing Mitsui Chemicals with all the necessary equipment for the thermal line based on Carbon-MX™ technology. Meanwhile, Mitsui Chemicals will customize the entire process including process elements using this technology. After the completion of the construction of the demonstration facility, the companies intend to jointly engage in the creation of serial production technology.

Using the ability of microwaves to heat a target substance from the inside, this technology will enable the introduction of an innovative process that minimizes unnecessary heat generation. Compared to existing methods, this will significantly reduce the time of heat treatment, as a result of which the technological line of heating will become smaller, and therefore compact. In addition, since the equipment itself does not reach high temperatures, the technology is expected to offer advantages in terms of equipment cost, energy costs and safety.

Mitsui Chemicals and Microwave Chemical predict that this approach will reduce energy consumption by about 50 percent. Moreover, if in the future the energy source used to generate microwaves switches to renewable energy sources, CO2 Emissions are expected to be cut by more than 90 percent.

Looking ahead, both Mitsui Chemicals and Microwave Chemical will use life cycle assessments as they seek to minimize their carbon footprint throughout their value chains. Companies will make efforts to meet the growing need for carbon neutrality in areas where carbon fiber is planned to be used, including the mobility sector. Mitsui Chemicals Announces Demonstration Plant for New Carbon Fiber Manufacturing Process – Chemical Engineering

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