Showa Denko and Mitsubishi Corp. ally to develop the technology for the next-generation nanotechnology-based carbon materials. Showa Denko acquired 50% of Frontier Carbon jointly established by Mitsubishi Corp. and Mitsubishi Chemical. Starting the development of carbon nanotube more than 10 years ago, Showa Denko has been the front runner in the production technology of carbon nanotube. It decided to participate in developing technology involved in fullerene that is another promising carbon material. Fullerene is expected to be used widely for the material of highly efficient solar batteries.
Founded in 2001, Frontier Carbon has been nearly monopolizing the word market of fullerene in production with its self-developed technology that produces fullerene by burning carbon hydride. The company started to operate the mass production facilities of fullerene in 2003 for the first time in the world. It currently produces about one ton of fullerene per year mostly for chemical companies. Frontier Carbon already developed a negative-electrode material using fullerene and achieved 11% in the efficiency to convert sunlight to electricity. It is now trying to improve the conversion efficiency to 15-20%. In the field of carbon nanotube, Zeon has already started mass production. (For details of Zeon, please read No. 639.)