Mitsubishi Chemical Corporation, Japanese chemical giant based in Tokyo, announced the development of a new grade of high-performance, high-transparency bio-based engineering plastic called DURABIOTM, using plant-derived isosorbide as its raw material. The new material features excellent optical properties and high resistance to heat and humidity.
Mitsubishi Chemical Corporation (MCC) will move aggressively to promote sales of DURABIOTM for use in touch panels on automobiles, a sector where demand is expected to increase significantly. Touch panels for automobiles are used mainly to control air conditioning, audio, and car navigation systems. DURABIOTM offers excellent flexibility in design and can enhance the appearance of automobile interiors, so MCC anticipates much wider use and steady growth in demand.
In contrast to easily breakable glass, transparent plastics such as impact-resistant polycarbonate, are used for the front plate of automobile touch panels for safety purposes. The disadvantage of polycarbonates, however, is distortion in light transmission, which makes it difficult for users to see the touch panel, so a material that could overcome this problem has been eagerly awaited.
MCC’s new grade of DURABIOTM features excellent optical properties, and nearly eliminates distortion in light transmission, making it easy to see the touch panel surface. Since autumn 2012, MCC has produced DURABIOTM at its Kurosaki Plant with an annual production capacity of 5,000 tons. MCC will develop new applications for DURABIOTM, in addition to touch panels for automobiles, taking full advantage of its high performance, and increase the annual production capacity to 16,000 tons by fiscal year 2015.
Mitsubishi Chemical is a diversified chemical company involved in petrochemicals, polymers, agrochemicals, speciality chemicals and pharmaceuticals. The company’s main focus is on three business pillars: petrochemicals, performance and functional products, and health care.
“Asia is the fastest-growing chemicals market in the world and we see great potential to deliver bio-based chemicals to this market as a growing complement to our current conventionally-sourced chemicals”, said Hiroaki Ishizuka of Mitsubishi Chemical Corporation. The Japanese corporation signed two years ago two agreements in US with BioAmber and Genomatica for bio-based feedstocks, including a possible joint venture Mitsubishi-Genomatica to build the first commercial plant in Asia for bio-BDO.