Receipt of 2015 Prize of the Chairman of HATSUMEI KYOKAI (JIII)

May 25, 2015
Asahi Kasei Chemicals Corp.

Asahi Kasei Chemicals has been selected to receive the Prize of the Chairman of HATSUMEI KYOKAI (JIII) at the 2015 National Commendation for Invention by the Japan Institute of Invention and Innovation for a patent for the development of gold–nickel oxide (Au–NiOx) nanoparticle catalysts with a core-shell structure. In connection with this award, Asahi Kasei Chemicals will also receive the Award for Distinguished Contribution for Driving the Invention into Implementation.

This invention relates to the development of Au–NiOx nanoparticle catalysts with a core-shell structure, and the commercialization of a new “direct oxidative esterification” (DIRECT METHA) process for methyl methacrylate (MMA) using the new catalysts.

The DIRECT METHA process developed by Asahi Kasei is a unique technology which enables the direct oxidative esterification of methacrolein. The process was commercialized in 1999 using Pd3Pb1 catalysts, but there was still room for improvement in selectivity of MMA, catalytic activity, and catalyst lifetime. The newly developed Au–NiOx nanoparticle catalysts overcome these shortcomings and enable high total yield and high feedstock utilization rate.

The Au–NiOx nanoparticles have a core-shell structure, with Au nanoparticles at the core and the surface covered by highly oxidized NiOx. They are supported on a carrier with high dispersion. This novel bimetallic nanoparticle structure provides superior catalytic performance than monometallic nanoparticles.

The successful establishment of industrial catalytic technology with high selectivity, high activity, and long catalyst life was enabled through the development of a high-strength silica-based carrier, the use of NiOx for improved chemical stability, and precise control of the distribution of the nanoparticles in the catalysts.

The practical applicability of this catalytic system was verified in a 100,000 ton/year MMA production plant in 2008, which demonstrated its high selectivity, high activity, and long catalyst life, resulting in reduced consumption of energy and resources as well as superior economic performance. With their broad substrate applicability, Au–NiOx nanoparticle catalysts are also expected to be applied to the oxidation of other substances.

Asahi Kasei Chemicals will continue to create new value for society by developing novel catalysts and chemical processes.

Recipients of the Prize

  1. 1.Prize of the Chairman of HATSUMEI KYOKAI (JIII)
    • Ken Suzuki – Catalyst Laboratory, Asahi Kasei Chemicals Corp.
    • Tatsuo Yamaguchi – Energy & Environment R&D Center, Corporate Research & Development, Asahi Kasei Corp.
  2. 2.Award for Distinguished Contribution for Driving the Invention into Implementation
    • Yuji Kobayashi – President & Representative Director, Asahi Kasei Chemicals Corp.