Taiyo Kagaku and MWCC
Synthetic application of polyglycerin utilizing microwaves
Taiyo Kagaku Co., Ltd. (henceforth, TKC) (headquarters: Yokkaichi, Mie, CEO: Nagahiro Yamazaki) and Microwave Chemical Co., Ltd. (henceforth, MWCC) (headquarters: Suita, Osaka, CEO: Iwao Yoshino), in regard to the synthesis of polyglycerin using microwaves, have reached an agreement to proceed with implementing a microwave synthesis facility within the next year. Examination of the application of the microwave technology possessed by MWCC has revealed that, under certain conditions, polyglycerin can be synthesized with lower temperature/less energy than what has traditionally been possible. A several hundred t/year production scale facility is scheduled to be introduced to the TKC plant in Yokkaichi, Mie, along with a new fatty acid ester synthesis facility.
Polyglycerin is a macromolecular substance formed by dehydration condensation of glycerin and is primarily used as a hydrophilic group in surfactants. In addition to serving as a food additive, polyglycerin is also used widely for cosmetic/toiletry purposes due to its high safety, as well as for industrial purposes. There is an annual demand of around 3,000 tons domestically.
Microwaves enable selective and rapid heating from the inside by directly vibrating the molecules within a substance. Although the effects of microwave technology are widely recognized, it has been considered difficult to increase the scale of microwave facilities in terms of facility design including selecting the optimal frequency and the method of temperature control, and from the perspective of safety and controllability of microwaves. A facility scale-up was finally achieved after trial and error based on the result of joint development between MWCC and Osaka University, which have both cultivated knowledge regarding microwaves for many years.
Using the microwave technology can reduce reaction time, energy consumption, and facility size by 1/3 to 1/5, 1/2 to 1/3, and 2/3 to 1/2, respectively, thereby enabling a scale increase in the tens of thousands of tons.