Japan Expansions: Sumitomo Chemical to build new research facility in Chiba; Mitsui to build PP plant

Sumitomo Chemical to build new research facility in Chiba

Sumitomo Chemical will build a new research facility at its Chiba site to serve as its centre for the development of innovative materials and new technologies for reducing environmental impact. The facility is scheduled to come into operation in March 2024. The company will also consolidate its existing facilities and shift some of its related resources from other sites to this new research facility in order to strengthen its R&D capabilities at the Chiba site and accelerate the development of new technologies and materials that contribute to resolving societal issues.

Contribution to reducing environmental impact is one of the material issues that the Sumitomo Chemical Group has determined to address as management priorities. In order to achieve this, in April 2020 the company established the Technological Development Group of Environmental Initiatives at its Petrochemicals Research Laboratory in the Chiba site, where it is advancing the development of technologies for the carbon cycle and the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, including chemical recycling technology. In addition, in April 2021, the Business Development Office for a Circular System for Plastics was formed to work to create businesses based on its efforts toward building a circular system for plastics.

The move toward carbon neutrality is increasingly gaining momentum in many countries and regions around the world. In view of this global trend, Sumitomo Chemical has been taking a series of measures for enhancing the research and development capabilities at its Chiba site, including this decision to launch the new research facility, and thereby working to transform the research complex in the area into its R&D centre for innovative materials and new technologies for reducing environmental impact.

The complex boasts advanced technologies related to polymer design, catalysts, processes, compounds and material and product processing, as well as scale-up facilities for validation trials. By building the new research facility and bringing together its wide variety of human resources, knowledge and technology, the Company will establish a system that will enable all these resources to be fully utilized, and strive to speed up the development of break-through innovations—in particular, technologies for reducing environmental impact and advanced polymeric materials for next-generation mobility technology and 5G. Meanwhile, the design of the new research facility will take into consideration the impact on the surrounding environment and energy conservation and also features spaces that will help to promote interaction among researchers and stimulate creative product development.

Mitsui to build PP plant

In other news, Prime Polymer Co., Ltd., a joint venture between Mitsui Chemicals and Idemitsu Kosan Co., will construct a new polypropylene (PP) manufacturing facility as part of its plans for a scrap-and-build-style restructuring of its production system. The new plant is slated to produce 200,000 tonnes/year of PP using licensed process technology from Mitsui Chemicals (the HYPOL process). Construction will begin in August 2021, with operations starting up in November 2024. The plant will be located at Prime Polymer’s Ichihara Works in Chiba, Japan.

The new manufacturing facility to be constructed will enable the production of high-performance PP and allow Prime Polymer to meet the growing needs for lightweighting in automotive materials. And through its offering of recycling-conducive materials here, Prime Polymer is looking to help drive material recycling.

Moving forward, Prime Polymer plans to suspend its existing manufacturing facility with a view to production capacity that is in line with supply–demand balance. In restructuring its production system here, Prime Polymer anticipates the effect of approximately 70,000 tonnes in reduced greenhouse gas emissions annually against 2013 figures. Further, Prime Polymer will be ramping up its circular economy-related efforts through the likes of providing of biomass raw material-based materials.


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