June 4, 2007

Japan Makers to Recycle Carbon Fiber

Tokyo, June 4 (Jiji Press)--Japanese fiber makers are preparing for the recycling of carbon fiber, an extremely strong material used for a wide range of products.

Until now, the durability of carbon fiber has posed an obstacle to recycling.

The Japan Carbon Fiber Manufactures Association, an industry group set up by nine fiber makers including Toray Industries Inc. and Mitsubishi Rayon Co. , will conduct a feasibility study on carbon fiber recycling by building a pilot plant in Omuta, Fukuoka Prefecture, southwestern Japan.

The 400-million-yen plant will start operating in April 2008 with an annual capacity of 4 million tons. The association will gather data on recycling costs and study methods to collect carbon fiber wastes.

Carbon fiber is composed of thin strands of pure carbon, which are mixed with resin and other materials to form strong and light composite materials.

Such composite materials are widely used to make sports equipment such as tennis rackets and golf clubs as well as aircraft parts and other aeronautical items.

But almost all wastes containing carbon fiber are currently discarded in landfills, because the heat-resistant fiber cannot easily be incinerated.

The association has developed a technology to thermally decompose the composite materials to extract carbon fiber from them. The extracted carbon fiber is then made into powder for recycling.

Though the recycled carbon fiber is not as strong as new carbon fiber, the association says that it is strong enough to be used in materials to make such products as medical devices.END

(c) 2007 Jiji Press English News Service. Provided by ProQuest Information and Learning. All rights Reserved.