News Release

June 7, 2007
Hitachi Chemical Co., Ltd.

“FRP Recycling Technology to Depolymerize Unsaturated Polyester under Ordinary Pressure” Wins the Environmental Merit Award in the 34th Environment Awards

Hitachi Chemical (Head Office: Tokyo; CEO and President: Yasuji Nagase; paid-in capital 15.4 billion yen) won the Environmental Merit Award in the 34th Environment Awards for its "FRP Recycling Technology to Depolymerize Unsaturated Polyester under Ordinary Pressure." The awards ceremony was held on Wednesday, June 6 at the Prince Hotel, Tokyo, where the certificates were presented by Mr. Tsutomu Kanai, chairman of the Hitachi Environment Foundation.

The Environment Awards – co-sponsored by the Hitachi Environment Foundation and the Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun, Ltd. and supported by the Ministry of Environment – has the long tradition since its establishment in 1974 to promote environmental conservation activities in Japan. Those who are eligible for these awards are “individuals, companies and parties that have accomplished or are expected to accomplish extraordinary achievements in environment-friendly and sustainability studies, development and research efforts.” This year, four awards were conferred, and for the first time, Hitachi Chemical Co., Ltd. received the awards.

Summary of FRP Recycling Technology to Depolymerize Unsaturated Polyester under Ordinary Pressure

Fiber reinforced plastics (FRPs) – light, high-strength and durable materials – are used for a variety of items, including bathtubs, automotive parts, railway vehicle parts and small vessels. However, FRP raw materials such as thermosetting resins (unsaturated polyester resins, etc.) make FRP difficult to recycle because they do not degrade after being molded. Hitachi Chemical's FRP recycling technology, which uses tripotassium phosphate as a catalyst and benzyl alcohol as a solvent, involves melting FRP for about 10 hours at 200 degrees centigrade under ordinary pressure. FRPs are readily separated into glass fibers, fillers, resins and other components, which together are reprocessed into FRPs at a low cost. This technology is unique that it requires neither the pretreatment (crushing, etc.), the facilities nor the energy for the pressurization. This technology also helps to reduce processing costs while ensuring health and safety. Moreover, the relatively long glass fibers recovered enable production of reusable FRPs with about 70% of the tensile strength of FRPs produced when compared with the new product. While recovered resin decomposition products are currently recycled as fuel oil, efforts are underway to reuse more than half of them as FRP materials. This practice is expected to come into mass operational use in the near future.

(At the awards ceremony, from the left: Mr. Katsuki Miyauchi, Vice President and Executive Officer, Mr. Katsuji Shibata, Recycling Technology Group, High Performance Materials R&D Center, Mr. Kazunobu Maekawa, Recycling Technology Group, High Performance Materials R&D Center, and Mr. Hiroshi Matsuoka, Director, General Manager, High Performance Materials R&D Center.)