Highlight from Integrated Report
As an Environment and Energy Company group, Nisshinbo is harnessing the technologies of Group companies to develop environmental products. Many of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) adopted by the United Nations include environmental factors, highlighting how concerns about the environment are rising globally. Against that backdrop, we are bringing together existing technologies from across the Group to develop new solutions that address environmental issues.
- Brake Friction Materials Compatible with New Rules on Copper Content
- Bio-carriers for Wastewater Treatment
- Glass-like Carbon
Brake Friction Materials Compatible with New Rules on Copper Content
Effective from 2021, environmental regulations in the US will prohibit the sale of friction materials that have a copper content of more than 5% or new vehicles fitted with those materials. From 2025, the limit on copper content will be reduced to 0.5%. Demand for copper-reduced and copper-free friction materials is likely to increase in other markets, as well as the US. We forecast orders for new friction materials will exceed those for existing materials from 2020. We have taken the lead in the sector in developing copper-reduced and copper-free friction materials.
The whole Group has worked together to develop the new materials, which were fully launched in 2017. Nisshinbo Brake Inc. is now steadily increasing production capacity for the new materials at its Tatebayashi Plant and at sites in America and other overseas markets. We aim to increase market share by building a volume production framework to address projected growth in demand for copper-reduced and copper-free friction materials, while also making improvements to our products based on market feedback. We plan to expand the product lineup to make a greater contribution to the environment and grow our friction materials business.
Carbodilite is a high-performance polycarbodiimide-based plastic material developed by the Nisshinbo Group. We supply Carbodilite in water-based, oil-based and powder forms, and as an additive in adhesive agents. Due to its unique highly reactive, low-toxic profile, Carbodilite is blended with coatings, inks and various plastics (polyester-based plastic, biodegradable plastic, polyurethane elastomer and others) to improve the durability, adhesiveness and other properties of secondary products.
In the automotive, heavy-duty anti-corrosion coating, construction coating and ink industries, tighter regulations governing volatile organic compounds (VOC) and efforts to reduce environmental impact are spurring demand for Carbodilite, which is a highly safe, water-based additive that can reduce required temperatures in drying processes. Also, in Europe and other markets where rules on the use of non-degradable plastics are being tightened, demand for biodegradable alternatives is growing strongly.
Carbodilite, which helps improve the durability of materials without any loss of biodegradability, is increasingly being adopted for use in biodegradable plastic, pointing to potential growth in demand. We plan to establish more Carbodilite production sites, including possible locations in overseas markets, to support production at our existing Tokushima Plant.
Bio-carriers for Wastewater Treatment
Microorganism-based systems are generally used to treat wastewater from factories and other facilities. To improve the effectiveness of those systems, Nisshinbo Chemical Inc. supplies AQUAPOROUSGEL (APG) bio-carriers for microorganisms. APG is a high-performance bio-carrier that settles rapidly into wastewater, while its sponge-form provides a large surface area for bacteria to attach to and colonize. APG is highly regarded in Japan, where it is used by leading water purification companies.
APG also contributes to water purification processes in other countries, particularly in Asia. APG is used in distributed wastewater treatment facilities and in factory water treatment facilities in China, and in public sewage treatment facilities in the Philippines. Other markets for APG in Asia include Vietnam, Thailand and Taiwan. China faces increasingly serious atmospheric and water pollution problems related to its large land mass and vast population. To address those issues, the government is tightening regulations and increasing penalties for polluters.
Those tougher rules are spurring rapid growth in demand for bio-carriers in China’s water treatment market. We aim to expand our business in the market by stepping up cooperation with Chinese manufacturers to build local production and sales networks.
How Bio-carriers Work
Demand for glass-like carbon is growing on the back of several trends, such as increased demand for high-performance semiconductors spurred by the shift to vehicle electrification and the spread of IoT and AI, and growing use of OLED screens for smartphones and other applications. Our unique glass-like carbon coating has the high heat-resistance of graphite, as well as low electrical resistance and impermeability to dust, gases and liquids. Those special properties mean glass-like carbon is used for many different types of products in a wide range of target markets. Until now, our products have largely been used in semiconductor applications, but we also see prospects for growth in other areas. Specifically, work is under way to develop tools for molding neodymium magnets and curved glass screens, which are likely to be key products in smart societies.
Existing parts and materials are also being replaced with glass-like carbon versions. We are targeting sales of ¥2.5 billion in 2025. To reach that goal, we plan to actively promote product ideas to customers, increase production capacity and reduce lead times. We will also continue research into revolutionary manufacturing technology to prepare for full-scale production in the future.