Asahi Kasei Advisor Hajime Nagahara honored with Prize for Science and Technology
Development Category Prize for Science and Technology in the 2018 Commendation for Science and Technology by the Minister of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology
Asahi Kasei Corp.
Asahi Kasei Advisor Dr. Hajime Nagahara was selected for a Development Category Prize for Science and Technology in the 2018 Commendation for Science and Technology by the Minister of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology. The prize recognizes Dr. Nagahara’s contribution to the development of the cyclohexene process for cyclohexanol, an intermediate for the production of nylon and many other industrial chemicals. The award ceremony will be held in Tokyo on April 17, 2018.
The conventional process to produce cyclohexanol is to oxidize cyclohexane in air. Disadvantages of the cyclohexane air oxidation process include a low conversion rate entailed to suppress the generation of byproducts, and the cost of waste treatment. The cyclohexene process employs the partial hydrogenation of benzene to obtain cyclohexene at high yield, followed by hydration of the cyclohexene to obtain cyclohexanol. Successful development of this process involved many technological achievements including the invention of a catalyst consisting of very fine particles of ruthenium, promoted by a zinc compound. The resulting process enabled the world’s first industrial production of cyclohexanol via cyclohexene.
The resource-saving, energy-saving, and pollution-free cyclohexene process proved to be superior to the cyclohexane air oxidation process in terms of higher yield, lower energy requirement, greater safety, and reduced waste treatment cost.
Asahi Kasei started commercial operation of a 60,000 ton/year cyclohexanol plant using the cyclohexene process at its Mizushima works in Okayama, Japan, in 1990. After subsequent expansions, the plant is currently operating at a capacity of 170,000 tons/year. Commercialization of this process allowed Asahi Kasei to expand its nylon resin and fiber businesses, fulfilling needs for weight reduction and safety in automobiles.