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TITLE Development of a Recycling System using Carbon Resources from Waste Cuttings Arising from the Maintenance of Palm Tree Plantations
(Joint Program to Promote Technological Development with the Private Sectors)
ABSTRACT Motors dominate half of the total electricity demand in Japan. As a result, motors are expected to be composed of more environmentally friendly materials as well as be more efficient to reduce the amount of CO2 emission. Consequently, we undertook the following three activities designed to ensure the effective use of large amounts of waste leaves and trunks generated in large-scale palm oil plantations in Malaysia, as a carbon resource.

(1) The development of polymers made from plants and easily decomposable compounds using these polymers.

Decomposing conditions including temperature, pressure, and treatment times were examined using a machine that is capable of continuously decomposing palm tree powder using subcritical water. Taking into consideration the yield of decomposed products, water soluble elements were used for the development of plant-derived polymers. These elements were first mixed with epoxy-silane resin and powder formed from waste leaves and trunks, and were then molded and cured. A polymer compact with a strength of approximately 10MPa was obtained.
In addition, another method utilizing lignophenols generated using a phase separation system was examined with regard to the development of polymers. This method resulted in a polymer compact with a maximum strength of approximately 26MPa.
These efforts did not result in the development of easily decomposable compounds, but patents for easily decomposable compounds utilizing the above polymers were applied for.

(2) The development of 3-dimensional carbon nanotubes (CNT)

Carbon nanotubes possessing branched structures can be prepared by pyrolytically decomposing palm oil in the presence of an iron catalyst. These CNTs will be added to brushes made of graphite in order to develop efficiency, long-life brushes for motors.
CNTs were not obtained from palm oil using a CNT generation machine, but they were fabricated from methane and ethanol which were generated from waste leaves and trunks of palm trees. However, the densities of brushes containing high concentrations of CNTs were low, with the result that motor properties using these brushes were not evaluated.

(3) The development of carbon ceramics

An amorphous carbon with a porous structure will be developed by mixing phenolic resin with crushed waste leaves and trunks and employing molding and annealing. Slide bearings with low sliding loss will be developed by impregnating the amorphous carbon with oil.
Carbon ceramics were manufactured using the above method and displayed a stable coefficient of friction that was less than 0.1 in the presence of oil. In addition, motor life evaluations were commenced using these ceramics as motor thrust bearings.