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Japan: Circular Economy Sumitomo, Muroran Institute Advance Chemical Recycling Technology Research

Editor: Ahlam Rais

The Muroran Institute of Technology has introduced a technology that makes use of highly selective zeolite catalysts to decompose waste plastics into specific monomers. In the joint research, the institute will create more sophisticated catalysts and Sumitomo Chemical will support the R&D of this technology.

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The joint research aims to quickly establish the chemical recycling technology that efficiently decomposes waste plastics into petrochemical raw materials.
The joint research aims to quickly establish the chemical recycling technology that efficiently decomposes waste plastics into petrochemical raw materials.
(Source: Deposit Photos)

Tokyo/Japan – Muroran Institute of Technology and Sumitomo Chemical Company have recently announced their decision to accelerate joint research on chemical recycling technology, which chemically decomposes waste plastics and reuses them as raw materials for petrochemical products, including plastics.

Plastics are useful materials contributing to the solutions of various social issues, as evidenced by plastic wrap protecting food from oxidisation, thereby reducing food loss, or by reduction in vehicle weight with plastics, improving energy efficiency and reducing the impact on the environment. On the other hand, pressing issues on a global scale include the increased disposal of waste plastics into the environment and increased greenhouse gases from the use of oil, a fossil fuel. As a means of solving these issues, there is strong demand in the society for the deployment of chemical recycling technologies that use waste plastics as raw materials instead of petroleum resources.

Against this backdrop, Professor Emeritus Yoshio Uemichi and Associate Professor Yasuharu Kanda of Muroran Institute of Technology developed a technology that uses highly selective zeolite catalysts to decompose waste plastics into specific monomers. This technology has recently gathered attention as a method to efficiently achieve chemical recycling.

In the joint research based on this technology, Muroran Institute of Technology will develop more sophisticated catalysts for the decomposition of plastics. Sumitomo Chemical will not only be responsible for supporting the R&D of Muroran Institute of Technology but also for developing process technologies to maximise the chemical decomposition of waste plastics. The company intends to do this by making the best use of the core technologies it has cultivated to date, including catalyst design and chemical process design. This joint research aims to quickly establish chemical recycling technology that efficiently decomposes waste plastics into petrochemical raw materials.

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In response to changing times and social demands, Muroran Institute of Technology has promoted research leading to innovation under the credo, ‘Making dreams come true with creative science and technology.’ One such research effort, from the perspective of green chemistry, is the development of plastic recycling technology.

Sumitomo Chemical has identified environmental impact mitigation as one of the material issues to be addressed by its management. To promote chemical recycling, the company will set up a new unit for the development of technologies to reduce the impact on the environment while actively promoting open innovation. With these efforts, Sumitomo Chemical is accelerating the development of solutions, including technologies for carbon recycling and reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Through this joint research on chemical recycling, Sumitomo Chemical and Muroran Institute of Technology will reduce the use of fossil fuels, the amount of waste plastic disposal, and greenhouse gas emissions from the incineration of waste plastics, thereby contributing to building a sustainable society.

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