Composites Today

Magazine For Composites Professionals

Mitsui Chemicals’ microwave-based carbon fiber production starts trial run

Mitsui Chemicals, (Inc. Japan) and Microwave Chemical Co., Ltd. (Japan) announced that the demonstration facility for innovative, eco-friendly carbon fiber production technology using microwaves at Mitsui Chemicals’ Nagoya, Japan, works began a trial run in January 2024. The companies continue to look at establishing mass production technology and intend to begin supplying carbon fiber samples from the facility within fiscal 2024.The Microwave Chemical has contributed to the installation of the demonstration facility by supplying Mitsui Chemicals with all of the necessary equipment for a microwave-based heating line that uses Carbon-MX™ technology – which integrates the oxidation and carbonization process elements of the carbon fiber production process – while Mitsui Chemicals has set up the entire process, including those elements involving this technology. By leveraging the ability of microwaves to heat a target substance from the inside, the technology here will enable an innovative process that minimizes unnecessary heat generation. When compared to existing methods, this will significantly reduce the time spent on heat treatment, resulting in a shorter heating process line and thus more compact facilities. Further, since the equipment itself does not reach high temperatures, the technology is expected to provide benefits with regard to equipment costs, energy costs and safety. Mitsui Chemicals and Microwave Chemical have projected that this approach will cut energy consumption by some 50 percent. What is more, if the source of the power used to generate the microwaves is switched to renewable energy in future, CO2 emissions are expected to be reduced by over 90 percent.