DuPont Co. is stepping up production of recycled-content nylon resin which eventually might make it possible to use nylon from used carpets for automotive under-hood parts. David Doyen, DuPont's senior consultant recycling, said the DuPont Automotive pilot plant in Chattanooga, Tenn., is producing about 3 million pounds of recycled nylon per year, and will be scaled up this quarter to its capacity of about 14 million pounds per year. The plant depolymerizes nylon from industrial and commercial carpets and uses the feedstock to make nylon with 25 percent recycled content. The blended product is then sold to molders to make car parts such as fan shrouds.
Initial tests show the recycled nylon maintains its stiffness and dimensional stability, while resisting chemicals, solvents and heat at near virgin resin levels.
``Eventually, we see ourselves as being able to use carpet from Ford Motor Co.'s own offices and plants to make parts for Ford cars, for example,'' Doyen said.
Carpet for feedstock for the plant is collected through a network of suppliers established in 1991, which can provide about 30 million pounds of carpet per year. The firm is scaling up production at a laboratory-scale nylon recycling plant in Kingston, Ontario, which uses a proprietary ammonolysis process to depolymerize waste carpet
DuPont is testing the ammonolysis process for efficiency and physical qualities, and Doyen said the firm plans a developmental-scale plant that can make 1 million-5 million pounds of nylon per year in 1998.
``Whether we build a larger plant to make the blended nylon depends on how the pilot project works, Doyen said.
DuPont also has begun operations at its new $12 million PET methanolysis plant in Wilmington, N.C. The plant can produce 100 million pounds of PET feedstock chemicals per year from recycled PET soda bottles and other products.