MOSCOW (MRC) -- Asahi Kasei and Microwave Chemical launched a joint demonstration project in April 2023 with the objective of commercializing a chemical recycling process for polyamide 66 using microwave technology, said Hydrocarbonprocessing.
The process utilizes microwaves to depolymerize PA66 and directly obtain the monomers hexamethylenediamine (HMD) and adipic acid (ADA), which is expected to be accomplished at high yield with low energy consumption. The monomers obtained can then be used to manufacture new PA66. In the demonstration, scraps from manufacturing and post-use waste material of PA66 for airbags and automobile parts are depolymerized.
Asahi Kasei produces fossil fuel–derived hexamethylenediamine (HMD) and adipic acid (ADA) as intermediates to manufacture Leona PA66, an engineering plastic featuring outstanding heat resistance and rigidity. PA66 is used in various applications, including plastic parts for automotive and electronic products, and yarn for airbag fabric, and its demand is expected to increase worldwide.
As the world moves toward carbon neutrality, attention is increasingly focused on manufacturing processes for reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from chemical products derived from fossil fuels. Microwave Chemical is promoting technological and business development to achieve carbon neutrality in the industrial sector focused on process development using microwaves, which can directly and selectively heat target substances with high energy efficiency. For chemical recycling, Microwave Chemical is advancing its proprietary PlaWave technology platform for decomposing plastic using microwaves.
Through development combining Asahi Kasei's experience in manufacturing HMD and ADA for more than half a century together with Microwave Chemical's achievements in the industrialization of microwave technology, the two companies aim to commercialize a manufacturing process for PA66 that can reduce GHG emissions compared to the conventional manufacturing process.
Laboratory-scale studies that began in fiscal 2021 have confirmed the high-yield depolymerization of PA66 using microwaves, as well as the principle of the separation and purification process after depolymerization. Bench-scale equipment will now be assembled at Microwave Chemical’s Osaka Factory by the end of fiscal 2023, and a small-scale demonstration trial using this equipment will be performed in fiscal 2024 to collect basic process data for commercialization.
Microwave Chemical’s PlaWave technology platform for decomposing plastic using microwaves can depolymerize PA66 with low energy and obtain HMD and ADA monomers in high yield. The manufacturing process for PA66 using HMD and ADA obtained by depolymerization with this technology is expected to reduce GHG emissions compared to the conventional PA66 manufacturing process, while further reduction of GHG emissions may be achieved by the use of renewable energy for the power required to generate the microwaves.
By verifying the process from depolymerization to separation and purification in an integrated manner, this demonstration project aims to enable resource circulation of PA66 for further reduction of GHG emissions.
We remind, Asahi Kasei Plastics North America (APNA), global compounder of of advanced engineered polymers and Asahi Kasei Asaclean Americas (AKAC), global supplier of purging compounds and concentrates, are merging effective April 1, 2023, said Canplastics. The combined company will operate as APNA and be headquartered in Fowlerville, Michigan. The merged entity creates a plastics-focused powerhouse with customers spanning the automotive, industrial, and consumer industries. APNA’s broad portfolio now includes Xyron modified PPE, Thermylene chemically coupled PP, Leona nylon 66, 66+6i, Tenac homopolymer and copolymer POM, Thermylon nylons 6 and 66, and Asaclean purging compounds and concentrates.