Sustainable Development Goals

Organizations Involved:
Mitsubishi Materials Corporation, Onahama Refining & Smelting Co, Tokyo University, Tokyo Institute of Technology, Several Tire Manufacturers & Recyclers 
Design & Engineering, Turn-Key DBCDue DiligenceSupply Chain Management, Component Supply

The Challange:

Nanotechnology is expected to revolutionize our world much in the same way that airplanes and telecommunications did during the last century. By manipulation of atoms on a millionth of a cm-scale, engineers are able to create new materials with previously unimaginable properties. Nano-enhanced products are expected to account for 50% of all electronics and information technology products and over 25% of all healthcare products by 2025.

Mitsubishi Corporation, one of the world's leading trading companies, began working with Klean's technologies in the late 1980s and 1990s to apply its unique carbonization technology that is integrated with a synthesis and purification technology so that large quantities of low-cost energy, carbon nanotubes, and fullerenes can be produced from alternative feedstocks such as scrap tires in a continuous process. The design of the system is based on the Chemical Vapour Deposition (CVD) Growth process in which unique chemicals are used to create a density gradient and the isolated carbon nanotubes gather in specific regions by type which can then be harvested as an isolated material. As the nanotubes are essentially forming during this synthesis process it causes the the material to act as either a semiconducting or metallic material. The nanomaterials are typically grown and sold as mixed structures. Semiconducting and metallic single-walled carbon nanotubes can be successfully isolated by density differentiation.

After decades of research and development and with early commercial operations underway ongoing research is continuing to advance material production purity. A joint pilot project was established in Japan in the year 2000 capable of producing 0.4TPA of nanomaterial. Since then production quantities have steadily increased as the project has been scaled up from its initial design capacity to now processing approximately 2,500,000 used tires exclusively (approximately 20,000TPA) for this purpose. With full-scale production due to start in the near term, the output is expected to be 7,000TPA of nano-recovered carbon black and 700TPA of carbon nanotubes. The parties involved have planned to further expand the production of nanocarbons tenfold by 2025. 

A number of different materials are produced using Klean's technologies:

  • Nano mix (C60x 60%, C70x 25%, remainder high order fullerene)
  • Nanom purple C60
  • Nano black - exclusive to Klean Industries
  • Custom-made fullerenes derivatives

The Outcome:

  • Production of high-tech material from waste hydrocarbons
  • Reduced emissions and increased energy efficiency
  • Competitive market position improved due to the lower cost of raw material production
  • Preservation of non-sustainable resources
  • 2.5 million tires per year will be recycled for maximum resource efficiency
  • Generation of income through the sale of surplus nanomaterial
  • Utilization and creation of a nanomaterial that is spawning a new era of energy-efficient products e.g. hi-tech batteries, coatings, solar cells, and fuel cells
This project addresses the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by considering the goals and associated targets illustrated by the WBCSD’s Tire Industry Project (TIP). TIP offers a framework for action that outlines impactful pathways for the tire sector to contribute to the ambitions of the SDGs. To learn more about how Klean's approach, solutions, and technologies contribute to advancing the SDGs please review the report called "Sustainability Driven: Accelerating Impact with the Tire Sector SDG Roadmap". See: