Research and Development
In our business, we manufacture a variety of products such as titanium metals, polyolefin catalysts, high-purity titanium dioxide, and ultra-fine nickel powder. The growth of our business covering such a wide range of products is based on our ceaseless efforts to develop new technology, and we are proud that these technologies have been created totally in-house by our own efforts.
R&D in our company is based on our management strategy of "Strengthening and establishing our business foundation through the pursuit of higher quality." By developing technologies not only to meet explicit requirements from customers but also achieve a leading position looking ahead several steps, we are going to contribute to the growth of our society.
We intend to shape a new future through technology development by making full use of our proprietary technologies fostered in creative efforts since our foundation, enhancing these even further, actively incorporating various state-of-the-art technologies, and integrating them effectively.
Development Example 1
Direct Cast Slab for Titanium Sheet Product (DC slab®)
By using our "electron beam melting furnace" built in our Yahata plant, jointly with Nippon Steel & Sumitomo Metal Corporation, we have developed a "direct cast slab for titanium sheet product" (Direct Cast Slab (DC Slab®)) technology that can feed the as-cast slabs directly to the hot-rolling process. This development is the first breakthrough of its kind in the world and we also succeeded in commercializing this technology.
This technology eliminates processes such as break-down rolling and hot forging for making hot-rolling slabs from large ingots and has drastically cut the overall time needed to manufacture titanium sheets.
The technology does not simply change the dimensions and shapes of ingots to those needed for rolling slabs. Based on our advanced metallographic knowledge obtained by applying state-of-the-art analysis technologies, we developed various innovative techniques that suppress "defects" on the surface of hot-rolled sheets originating from coarse microstructures in the as-cast ingots, and actually applied these techniques to our unique manufacturing processes.
Development Example 2
Porous Titanium (WEB Ti®)
Through an extensive research on diverse forming and sintering conditions, we succeeded in developing porous materials of metal titanium (WEB Ti®) featuring superior characteristics. These materials are manufactured from titanium powder (manufactured through the hydrogenation and dehydrogenation process) and fibrous titanium which are some of our manufacturing specialties. The porosity of WEBTi®-K is about 40% while a thin film of only a few dozen microns thick and is as flexible as paper. Another product called WEBTi®-S has higher porosity of about 70 to 90%. These products are expected to be used for applications that require porosity as well as a light weight and corrosion-resistance such as electrode materials, filters, and sound absorbing materials.
Development Example 3
Solid Electrolyte for Next Generation Lithium-Ion Batteries (Lithium Lanthanum Titanium Oxide)
In a joint effort with Professor Dr. Yoshiyuki Inaguma of the Faculty of Science at Gakushuin University, we have been working on improving performance of materials for metallic lithium air cells, which are expected as next generation lithium-ion batteries, and developed a lithium-ion permeable solid electrolyte*1 with high ionic conductivity at least five times greater than that in commercially available products. We believe that using this material as the solid electrolyte that has proven a bottleneck in research work up to now will accelerate R&D of materials for peripheral components such as electrolytic solutions and containers and contribute to early actualization of next generation secondary batteries.
- *1 Solid Electrolyte:
- A solid material that conducts electric current through ion movement like a liquid electrolyte does. When used in combination with liquid electrolyte, a solid electrolyte must transmit only ions without liquid movement.
Development Example 4
Ultra-Fine Nickel Powder
The particle size of nickel powder utilized in electronics components must be extremely tiny in order to respond to the requirement for thinner electrodes. By applying the gas phase reaction being used for producing high-purity titanium dioxide which is one of our specialty products, we have developed a technology that produces ultra-fine nickel powders with an average particle diameter of 200 nm (0.2 μm) or less. Some 25 trillion nickel particles with an average particle diameter of 200 nm weigh only one gram. We are making constant R&D efforts to ensure a steady supply of the next generation power products for smooth and efficient customer use, by minimizing variations in the shape, size, surface state, and thermal behavior of each fine particle to the utmost possible limit.