Annual Report 2018

“Increased investment in R&D, coupled with our transition from a closed approach to open innovation and collaboration, will contribute to significant reductions in lead time and fuel the growth of Tosoh.”

960 Researchers

¥15.5 Billion Invested

  • Snapshot

    In a world where change occurs at a frenetic pace and the needs of society become increasingly sophisticated each day, Tosoh’s future depends greatly on the success of its R&D. The company has therefore structured its R&D organization to function as efficiently as possible. Strategically distributed groups focus on particular technical fields and functions, but all work in concert to cultivate ideas and to develop and rapidly commercialize products in life sciences, environment and energy, and electronic materials—the fields identified by Tosoh for high growth potential.

    The Tokyo Research Center incorporates Tosoh’s Advanced Materials Research Laboratory and Life Science Research Laboratory. The former undertakes R&D related to advanced materials for the electronics, and the environment and energy industries. The latter develops clinical diagnostic technologies and separation and purification media for pharmaceuticals. These facilities work primarily in support of the Specialty Group.

    Tosoh’s Yokkaichi Complex is home to two R&D facilities. The Functional Polymers Research Laboratory focuses on the development of polymer materials for use in optical, electronic, biological, and various other applications. The Polymer Materials Research Laboratory focuses on new polymer materials that include customized grades with customer-specified properties. Both facilities help to drive the efforts of the Petrochemical Group. In fall 2019, the Polyurethane Research Laboratory, which is responsible for developing raw materials and specialty systems for polyurethane resin, will join the two R&D facilities at the Yokkaichi Complex.

    The Nanyo Complex, too, hosts two R&D facilities. The Organic Materials Research Laboratory develops organic functional products for electronics and environment applications, and the Inorganic Materials Research Laboratory devises inorganic functional products for those same fields. These facilities support the Specialty and the Chlor-alkali Groups.

    Organo Corporation’s R&D Center cultivates technologies for the manufacture of ultrapure water, for water purification and wastewater treatment, and for advanced separation and purification, including those technologies that contribute to environmental purification and reductions in environmental loading. It supports Tosoh’s Engineering Group.

    R&D is so crucial to Tosoh’s future that the company increasingly emphasizes collaboration to source ideas and commercialize products and technologies. To shorten lead times, Tosoh is also pursuing open innovation that sees it incorporate concepts from an ever-broadening range of sources. The company will intensify efforts to collaborate with universities. It will also work more closely with government and academia to formulate educational programs to cultivate the next generation of R&D personnel knowledgeable in chemical industry materials and products and in cutting-edge technologies.

    Tosoh’s enhancements to its R&D also involve ongoing investment in venture funds and the dispatch of researchers to the United States to acquire information on new technologies. In concert, all of its R&D-related activities will serve to reduce time to market and to strengthen the company’s R&D globally.

    Construction, meanwhile, is underway at the Yokkaichi Complex of an R&D facility in which Tosoh will centralize its polymer, polyurethane, and petrochemical R&D. This, too, will enhance efficiency and shorten lead times. The new facility is scheduled for completion in spring 2019.

    A new facility is also being erected at the Nanyo Complex, specifically to heighten the efficiency of R&D in support of Specialty Group products. This facility, which should be completed sometime in 2020, will help the company take advantage of synergies among the technologies it develops.

    In fiscal 2018, Tosoh’s R&D force totaled 960 people, up from 900 in fiscal 2017. The company also invested ¥15.5 billion in R&D during the year under review, an increase of ¥1.1 billion from the previous year.

  • R&D Organization
  • R&D by Business Group

    Petrochemical Group

    The Petrochemical Group’s R&D centers on the improvement of polymer products and related technologies and on the development of polymers.

    The Petrochemical Group is working to develop new and to improve established polyethylene products for the medical and lamination fields with the objective of providing differentiated and high-value-added products of enhanced functionality. Its latest polyethylene is a key element in infusion bags and bottles and is highly evaluated domestically and overseas. And its ultrahigh molecular weight polyethylene (UHMWPE) is well received for applications such as separators for lithium-ion batteries and friction parts.

    The Petrochemical Group’s development of high-grade polyphenylene sulfide (PPS) resins is making possible weight reduction and increased complexity in automobile design. Its petroleum resins, meanwhile, are successful as pressure-sensitive adhesives and as ecological tire modifiers. The group is also working on new grades of chloroprene rubber (CR) with enhanced durability for power transmission belts. And it is boosting Tosoh’s position as the world leader in chlorosulfonated polyethylene (CSM) quality and production volume with new applications that take advantage of CSM’s superior water and chemical resistance.

    In addition to its polyvinyl chloride (PVC) resin paste for wallpaper and flooring applications, the Petrochemical Group is developing new grades of PVC resin paste to satisfy automotive industry requirements. It is also working on polymer materials based on Tosoh’s proprietary concept for such applications as optical materials, LCDs, and flexible display substrates.

    R&D expenditures for the Petrochemical Group increased from ¥1.9 billion in fiscal 2017 to ¥2.2 billion in fiscal 2018.

    Chlor-alkali Group

    Central to Chlor-alkali Group, R&D is strengthening manufacturing technologies related to Tosoh’s vinyl isocyanate chain.

    In addition to developing functional polyols and polyurethane-related products, such as polyurethane foams, elastomers, and coatings, the Chlor-alkali Group cooperates in R&D projects with Tosoh’s other business groups. These include low-density, high-durability all-MDI seat cushions to meet automotive requirements for light weight and high functionality; polyurethane resins of superior chemical resistance for use in synthetic leather; and a low-viscosity hardener for automotive clear top coats.

    The Chlor-alkali Group is also developing raw materials for environmentally friendly water-based coatings. In addition, it is also working on a thermal insulation polyurethane foam that incorporates a newly developed blowing agent that does not contribute to ozone depletion and global warming. It is also making progress on improving the energy efficiency of electrolytic technology for producing sodium hydroxide.

    Fiscal 2018 R&D expenditures for the Chlor-alkali Group rose to ¥3.2 billion from ¥3.0 billion in fiscal 2017.

    Specialty Group

    R&D undertaken by the Specialty Group concentrates on fields with the highest potential for growth: life sciences, energy and the environment, and electronic materials.

    The Specialty Group’s life science R&D involves developing next-generation equipment and reagents for immunological testing. The group is also devising new liquid chromatography columns and separating materials for bio-pharmaceutical purification. And through its participation in a next-generation bio-pharmaceutical manufacturing technology R&D group, the Specialty Group is working on an innovative process to purify antibody drugs and on technology for advanced antibody analysis. In addition, it is developing microfabrication technologies for the early detection of cancer and for the diagnosis of cells in regenerative medicine. The Specialty Group is also coming up with new products in high-translucency zirconia for dental use and in colored zirconia for decorative applications.

    Forecasts for continued growth in energy demand compel the Specialty Group to continue its development of materials for lithium-ion batteries (LIBs). It is working in particular on conductive polymers that contribute to enhancing condenser capacity.

    Environment-related R&D includes hydrofluoroolefin (HFO) urethane catalysts that feature minimal environmental impact; efforts to expand the sales of Tosoh’s urethane blowing catalyst RZETA®, which reduces volatile organic compounds (VOCs); engine oil additives that aid in reducing energy consumption; and aldehyde scavengers. The group is also engaged in improving zeolites for automobile exhaust gas catalysts and in developing functional zeolites for other applications. In addition, the Specialty Group has fortified its line of heavy metal treatment agents that remove harmful materials from fly ash and water.

    In electronic materials, the Specialty Group is enhancing the efficiency and product life cycle of organic electroluminescence (EL) transport material. It is as well developing sputtering targets with the aim of achieving thin-film material that features low resistance at low temperatures for use in touch-panel applications.

    Continuing trends in the miniaturization of semiconductor devices sees the Specialty Group working to develop organometallic compounds for next-generation wiring. It has also made remarkable progress in high-performance quartz components for use in next-generation semiconductor manufacturing equipment. And through industry-academia collaboration, the Specialty Group is developing coating-type organic semiconductor materials for printed electronics. That collaboration also sees it working on light-curable insulating materials, surface hydrophilic modification materials, and protective layer materials.

    Fiscal 2018 expenditures for Specialty Group R&D increased to ¥8.3 billion, from ¥7.9 billion in fiscal 2017.

    Engineering Group

    The R&D Center of Tosoh subsidiary Organo Corporation drives Engineering Group R&D.

    The Engineering Group is developing large-scale water treatment systems for pure, ultrapure, and clean water. It is also working on underground wastewater treatment equipment and chromatographic separation equipment. In addition, it is attempting to commercialize a urea trace meter, coagulation-sedimentation equipment, a biological treatment device, an electrical demineralizer, cabinet-type ultrapure water manufacturing equipment, and an electronic material purification resin.

    Functional product R&D projects underway in the Engineering Group include standard water treatment systems, water treatment chemicals, and additives and materials for processed foods. The group is also making progress toward commercializing a nutritional supplement for use in wastewater treatment.

    The Engineering Group’s fiscal 2018 R&D expenditures increased to ¥1.8 billion, from ¥1.5 billion in fiscal 2017.

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