The Chemical Daily recently conducted a round of interviews with the heads of R&D divisions of major Japanese chemical companies. For this installment, we talked with Yutaka Kawabata, managing director of Maruzen Petrochemical Co. Ltd.
Kawabata said that as part of a medium-term management plan for fiscal 2018–2022, Maruzen Petrochemical is aiming for more than half of its ordinary profit to be coming from specialty and other such chemicals by 2022. To achieve this, he said, the company will need to expand its lineup of new products, placing high expectations on its R&D division.
Discussing efforts with regard to photoresist polymers used in etching circuits for semiconductors, Kawabata said that Maruzen Petrochemical is moving forward with product development that is able to deal with cutting-edge circuit line widths.
Maruzen Petrochemical is also engaged in technological development for a range of other semiconductor-related products and materials, Kawabata said. One of the examples he gave here was antireflective polymer film that is able to improve electronic circuit precision by being placed between a photoresist and circuit board. Then he also noted polymer for thick-film resist that aids in creating rewiring layers for semiconductor circuit boards, as well as polymer for insulative films to be placed between layers in multilayer wiring structures.
Kawabata then moved to talk about Maruzen Petrochemical’s vinyl ether products, which see use as raw material in highly weather-resistant fluororesin coatings and in concrete additives. The company’s products here, he said, are safe for living bodies and offer characteristic surfactant properties. Seeing significant potential for these capabilities to be put to use in the likes of the water treatment and environmental sectors, Maruzen Petrochemical is moving forward with development efforts for new products here, he said.
Commenting next on methyl ethyl ketone (MEK), which is used in ink solvents and other applications, Kawabata said that Maruzen Petrochemical is moving toward production reform. The company’s R&D division, he explained, is bolstering research efforts here that approach the topic from the perspective of reaction mechanisms.
If this work allows Maruzen Petrochemical to improve its yield over current levels, the company will be able to increase its production while keeping the same input of raw materials, Kawabata said. And should this rationalization process continue, he added, the company will be able to become more competitive as a direct result of its production reform here, such as by cutting down on costs.
Elsewhere, Kawabata said, Maruzen Petrochemical is looking into themes that would allow it to create further synergy on the R&D side of things with parent company Cosmo Energy Holdings Co. Ltd. (TYO:5021). All sorts of possibilities are being explored here, he revealed, including the effective use of currently unused fractions between oil refining and petrochemistry as well as plans to develop new products by combining the technologies of the two companies.