Japan: Producing Nano Materials from Scrap Tires - Going Nano, Where Small means Big!

Organizations Consulted: Klean Industries, Mitsubishi Corporation, Tokyo University, Tokyo Institute of Technology, Several Major Tire Manufactures

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 percent of all electronics and information technology products and 16 percent of all healthcare products by 2014.

Mitsubishi Corporation, one of the worlds leading trading companies, began working with Klean's technology partners to apply its unique combustion technology so that large quantities of low-cost carbon nanotubes and fullerenes could be produced from scrap tires in a continuous process, from both the recovered hydrocarbon liquid and the solid residue.

A joint pilot project was established in Japan in 2000 capable of producing 0.4TPA of nanomaterial. Since then production quantities have increased as the project has been scaled up to process approximately 250,000 used tires exclusively for this purpose. With full-scale production due to start in the near term, the output is expected to be 500TPA of carbon black and 10TPA of carbon nanotubes. The parties involved have planned to further expand the production of nano carbons three-fold by 2007. 

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

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

Benefits realized

  • Production of high-tech material from waste hydrocarbons
  • Reduced emissions and increased energy efficiency
  • Improved competitive position of client due to lower raw material costs
  • Preservation of non-sustainable resources
  • 1 million tires per year will be recycled for maximum resource efficiency
  • Generation of income through the sale of surplus nanomaterial
  • Utilization of nanomaterial will spawn a new era of energy-efficient products e.g. hi-tech batteries, coatings, solar cells, and fuel cells