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R&D Reports

vol. 2001 - II (2001.11.30 issue)

Sumitomo Chemical's New Technology to Manufacture ε-Caprolactam

All the current caprolactam manufacturing processes produce large amounts of ammonium sulfate as a by-product, because oleum or sulfuric acid is used for the reaction promoter in the Beckmann rearrangement process and hydroxylamine sulfate is brought into the cyclohexanone oxime production unit. As the profitability of caprolactam production depends on the amount of ammonium sulfate, the process to avoid its generation has been a dream for many manufacturers. Recently Sumitomo Chemical Co., Ltd. developed the vapor phase Beckmann rearrangement process. In the process cyclohexanone oxime is rearranged into caprolactam using a high silica zeolite catalyst instead of sulfuric acid. EniChem in Italy developed the ammoximation process that involves the direct production of cyclohexanone oxime without producing any ammonium sulfate. Sumitomo Chemical Co., Ltd. will industrialize the combined process of vapor phase Beckmann rearrangement and ammoximation in 2003. The process does not produce any ammonium sulfate. We focus in this paper on some aspects of the vapor phase Beckmann rearrangement catalysis. It has been believed that the catalyst must possess acidity, however we have developed a catalyst with extremely week acidity, which cannot be detected by ammonia TPD measurements.
( 4 - 12 by Hiroshi ICHIHASHI, Masami FUKAO, Keisuke SUGITA, Tatsuya SUZUKI )

The Application of Liquid Crystalline Polymer "Sumikasuper LCP"for Connector Usage

Liquid Crystalline Polymers (LCPs) ("Sumikasuper LCP" is one of them) are now used for wide varieties of electronic parts, especially SMT (Surface Mount Technology) connector for personal computers and mobile phones. However, it is sometimes difficult to apply LCPs (Sumikasuper LCP also) to the usage, because of molding problems. The most significant molding problem is warpage. In this report, we explain the basic study to solve the problem based on our own flow pattern theory. According to experimental results based on the theory, it is found that both the compound formulation and procedure are part of the key technologies to solve warpage problem and to fit flow patterns of various actual connector designs also. Thus Sumikasuper E6000HF series have been developed as connector grades. Furthermore, the effectiveness of CAE (Computer Aided Engineering) technology is introduced as a method of estimating the flow pattern and warpage analysis.
( 13 - 19 by Satoshi NAGANO, Hiroyasu YAMAUCHI, Manabu HIRAKAWA )

Development of the New Polypropylene Suitable for Blow Molding

The new polypropylene (PP) suitable for blow molding has been developed. The new PP gives good controllability of parison thickness because of its very small dependence of die swell on shear rate. Furthermore, the productivity of blow molding can be improved by reducing the molding cycle time, because the cooling rate of the new PP is high. On the other hand, physical properties of the new PP has been also improved. Impact strength of the new PP is surprisingly higher than that of conventional PP and high density polyethylene for blow molding. Moreover, the new PP has advantages such as high flexibility and good transparency.
( 20 - 26 by Seiji SHIROMOTO, Tatsuhiro NAGAMATSU, Haruyuki SUZUKI, Toshihide OGIHARA )

Process for Producing Methyl Esters of Fatty Acids Using Supercritical Methanol

The process for producing methyl esters of fatty acids by reacting fats and oils such as soybean oil and waste oil with methanol was investigated. We have found the fact that the methyl esters are obtained at a high reaction rate in the absence of a catalyst under the supercritical conditions. This process is a clean and simple process without soap by-produced in the case of using alkali catalysts. So that, the part of the process to wash soap away using water after reaction can be omitted.
( 27 - 31 by Fumisato GOTO, Tomoyuki SUZUKI, Toshio SASAKI, Tatsuo TATENO )

Present and Future Features of Microreaction Technology

Recent developments regarding microreactors of which reaction volume is at µ rorder are reviewed from the viewpoint of system design for laboratory automation which is useful for process chemistry. Physical and chemical phenomena at µm level(size effects), structural elements , fabrication methods concerning microreactors are summarized. Applied reaction examples classified into seven categories are also surveyed. The advantages of microreactors are(1)easy of rapid and precise control of temperature, which is helpful in obtaining of heat-unstable compounds,(2)easy to reduce reaction (residence)time,(3)high yield of reaction products(one of the author's hypothesis)and(4)easy of scale-up of reaction volume by numbering-up procedures of each microreactor element without complicated calculations in chemical engineering. The productivity of chemical compounds by microreactors is much enough for cost-effective fine chemicals. The importance of combination of computer-aided synthesis design and microreactors is also pointed out to swiftly validate the candidate reaction routes presented In conclusion, microreactors have great potential for serving as a powerful tool for organic synthesis research, analytical science, and its production.
( 32 - 45 by Hideho OKAMOTO, Arata HASHIZUME )

Current Practices Safety Pharmacological Study

Safety pharmacology is one of non-clinical evaluation aimed to assess the safety of medicinal products by examining the pharmacodynamic properties. Recently, ICH guideline for the safety pharmacological study is designed to obtain the information necessary to predict the potential adverse effects and assess the safety of the substance in humans. In this paper, we explain the circumstance of ICH guideline establishment and its summary, and describe our current practices in evaluating of vital function, chiefly cardiovascular system, are considered to be the most important ones to assess in safety pharmacological studies.
( 48 - 52 by Terumasa MINO, Tomohiro NODA, Shinji TsUJIMOTO, Shin-ichi SUGIMOTO, Minoru NAKANO )

Application of Process Systems Engineering to Plant Operation and Control

Process Systems Engineering (PSE) has made progress as a new discipline to establish theories and methods for decision making at all the stages of plant life cycle (planning, design, management, operation, control and maintenance of process systems). Recently the main research field of PSE has been shifted from process design to plant operation and control in response to the change in needs of chemical process industries. This paper reviews the key technologies of PSE and their applications to industrial chemical plants, and touches upon some difficult problems and further development.
( 53 - 59 by Yoshinori KUTSUWA )

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