Toray Industries, Inc.
Tokyo, Japan, September 19, 2023 – Toray Industries, Inc., announced today it signed an agreement with Honda Motor Co., Ltd., to jointly develop a chemical recycling technology for glass-fiber reinforced nylon 6 parts recovered from end-of-life vehicles. The two have begun verifying this technology, which entails depolymerizing with subcritical water (see note) and regenerating the materials as caprolactam, a raw monomer.
The two companies focused on such subcritical water characteristics as its high permeability, dissolving power , and hydrolysis effect in resins in developing a technology that successfully depolymerizes nylon 6 with that water. Subcritical water is water at high temperatures and pressures. It is free of catalysts, additives do not affect it, and it can depolymerize nylon 6 in several dozen minutes to create high yields of raw monomer. Separating, refining, and repolymerizing that monomer makes it possible to regenerate nylon 6 that performs like a virgin material.
The Ministry of the Environment adopted this technology for a fiscal 2023 project to establish a decarbonized circular economy system, including to validate recycling systems for plastics and other resources. Toray and Honda look to employ that project to set up a pilot facility with a processing capacity of 500 metric tons annually of raw resin, conducting validation testing with it.
The first step with this work is to recycle used automotive plastic parts into the same automotive materials. The two companies will develop depolymerization and monomer separation and refining technologies by employing intake manifolds as raw materials for engine intake system parts. They seek to apply these technologies for recycling chemicals in automotive resin parts by around 2027.
Down the track, they look to broaden the scope of their chemical recycling technology to encompass apparel, films, and other non-automotive applications. They also envisage inviting other companies to take part in their effort and a set up a chemical recycling scheme for nylon 6 in Japan. This endeavor would help realization a circular economy and cut greenhouse gas emissions.
One goal of the Toray Group Sustainability Vision for 2050 is to contribute to a world in in resources are sustainably managed. Toray will keep pursuing research and development to contribute to a sustainable, circular economy and thereby realize its corporate philosophy of contributing to social progress by delivering new value while attaining sustainable growth.
About the validation initiative
Ministry of the Environment fiscal 2023 project to establish a decarbonized circular economy system, including to validate recycling systems for plastics and other resources
Ministry news release link (in Japanese only):
Scheduled term: July 2023 to March 2026
Project representative: Toray Industries, Inc.
Project partner: Honda R&D Co., Ltd.
Framework for chemical recycling technology validation
Subcritical water is in a high-temperature, high-pressure state, just below the critical point of water (374°C, 22 megapascals). It differs from water at normal temperatures and pressures in several ways, such as by dissolving and hydrolyzing organic compounds.