R&D for the Specialty Group focuses on life sciences, energy and environmental conservation, electronic materials, and other areas. Our life sciences R&D is developing next-generation analyzers and reagents for our immunoassay analyzer business. It is also developing products for the diagnosis of infectious diseases in connection with Tosoh’s genetic testing business.
Our emphasis in life sciences R&D is on separation and purification media for the rapidly growing biopharmaceuticals market and on liquid chromatography columns for analysis. Tosoh participates in Japan’s Manufacturing and Technology Association of Biologics and is involved in developing innovative processes for the purification and analysis of antibody drugs.
In addition, we are making headway in developing microfabrication technology for early cancer detection. And we are working on developing decorative use color zirconia for such accessories as watches and those found in automobiles. Tosoh is also developing high-translucency zirconia for dental applications.
Our energy-related R&D work sees us developing improved manganese oxide materials for use in the cathodes of rechargeable LIBs, a sector of the market for which growth is forecasted. And in the interest of environmental conservation, we continue to develop zeolite for use in automotive catalytic converters and for new applications. Our ongoing R&D of foam catalyst amine derivatives, meanwhile, led to our commercialization of emission-free reactive amine catalyst RZETA. Similarly, we continue our R&D of heavy metal treatment agents for fly ash processing and wastewater treatment.
Electronic materials R&D sees us pressing ahead with the development of advanced electron and hole transport materials for OLED displays. We have also commercialized sputtering targets for low-temperature, low-resistance thin films used in touch-panel displays and are working on their next generation. In addition, we are responding to increasing demand in semiconductor miniaturization with organometallic compounds and quartz components for next-generation semiconductors. We are also engaged in the R&D of coating-type organic semiconductor materials, a key material in printed electronics.
Fiscal 2016 Specialty Group R&D spending was approximately ¥7.9 billion.
R&D for the Chlor-alkali Group centers on innovations to Tosoh’s core vinyl isocyanate chain. We are developing improved manufacturing processes for isocyanates, the raw material for polyurethane, and aggressively developing new formulas for polyurethane foam, elastomers, coatings, and other urethane-related products.
We are also devising new materials in collaboration with scientists in other fields. Specifically, we are combining forces to produce uniquely lightweight, highly durable, and environmentally friendly automobile seat cushions that are thinner, lower in density, and more robust. They are made wholly of MDI using advanced, low-VOC technology.
Our functional polyurethane R&D, meanwhile, is aggressively developing clear, low-viscosity curing agents and raw materials for chemical-resistant coatings for synthetic leather urethane resin and plastic paints for automotive-related applications. We are also pursuing continuous, energy-saving innovation in electrolytic technology.
Fiscal 2016 R&D expenditures for the Chlor-alkali Group amounted to about ¥2.6 billion.
Petrochemical Group R&D is dedicated to developing and improving polymers and related technologies. R&D into unique, high-value-added polyethylene products of superior functionality is ongoing. In addition, Tosoh is developing and improving new grades of laminate products, food packaging materials, and other related products. We are, for example, making progress toward clean, heat-resistant grades of polyethylene products intended for medical applications.
Using Tosoh’s new, proprietary catalyst, the Petrochemical Group has developed Dekamiren, a world-class, ultrahigh molecular weight polyethylene (UHMWPE). Applications being developed for this product are wide ranging and include separators for lithium secondary batteries, sliding parts, and more.
In the meantime, the market for polyphenylene sulfide (PPS) is growing, particularly for its use in smartphone bodies, and this has contributed to increased group sales of PPS. Petroleum resins, too, are contributing to the group’s bottom line because they are in demand to boost tire performance as eco-tire modifiers. Also with regard to automobiles, we have been researching and developing grades of chloroprene rubber (CR) that are appropriate for transmission belts, a Tosoh specialty. Customers appreciate the durability of Tosoh’s CR-based transmission belts.
Tosoh is the world’s top manufacturer of chlorosulphonated polyethylene (CSM). By further improving the functionality of our CSM, we are raising the quality of and expanding the market for an already high-quality product. We are likewise developing new uses for our PVC paste beyond wallpaper and flooring materials by listening to the market and responding to customers’ needs. And we are moving ahead with developing polymer materials based on our unique concepts for their use as LCD materials, flexible display substrate materials, and other applications.
Fiscal 2016 R&D expenditures for the Petrochemical Group were around ¥1.9 billion.
Tosoh subsidiary Organo Corporation’s R&D Center is core to Engineering Group R&D. The facility emphasizes basic technologies, new products, and product quality. It also promotes the sale and service of water treatment equipment, such as pure, ultrapure, and clean water producing equipment; large-scale wastewater treatment plants and standard water treatment equipment; water treatment chemicals; and food additives and materials for food processing. The R&D Center has commercialized monosaccharide separation chromatography separating materials and cabinet-type pure water manufacturing equipment.
Fiscal 2016 Engineering Group R&D spending was approximately ¥1.4 billion.