Mitsubishi, Denka Form Fullerenes JV


Chemical maker Denka Co. has agreed to by a 50% stake of Mitsubishi Chemical’s Frontier Carbon Corp., forming a joint venture aimed at expanding production and sales of fullerene nanoparticles.

The would-be joint venture partners – both of which are headquartered in Tokyo – did not disclose the price of Denka’s acquisition.

Fullerenes are a class of nanoparticles, spherical, ellipsoid or tubular carbon molecules being developed for a range of applications, including lubricants but also extending to dielectric systems, biomedical and polymers. Fullerenes are already finding limited use in some finished lubricants, but uses are mostly still being developed, and some proponents predict they will eventually provide break-through performance in friction reduction and wear prevention.

Mitsubishi Chemical founded Frontier Carbon in 2001, and the latter develops and produces fullerenes at a facility in Tokyo. The company produces three categories of fullerene chemicals. Its main and basic product are mixtures of C60, C70 and other sized molecules in proportions of 50%-65%, 15%-25% and remaining percentages, respectively. It also supplies C60 in purity levels of 96% and 99.5%, which are being developed fullerenes that are being developed for a range of applications, such electrically conductive thin-film layers in as solar energy cells and in sensors in cellular telephones.

In an April 24 news release, Mitsubishi Chemical and Denka said the former holds multiple fullerene patents and has an existing customer base and an established sales network, while Denka brings expertise in manufacturing technologies and in carbon-nano materials, developed through its experience producing acetylene black5, a highly conductive carbon material used in high-voltage cables and lithium-ion batteries.

The companies said the joint venture will also leverage Denka’s existing manufacturing facilities.

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