Mitsubishi and Denka Enter New JV in Nanomaterials

Mitsubishi Corporation and Denka Company Limited have signed a joint-venture agreement in the business of fullerenes. Specifically, these are carbon molecules that form the base of cutting-edge materials in the field of nanotechnology. Under the terms of the agreement, Denka shall acquire from Mitsubishi a 50% stake in Frontier Carbon Corporation (FCC), a company that manufactures and sells fullerenes.

Mainly, fullerenes are nanoscale allotropes of carbon. Here, single or double-bonded atoms are joined together in hexagonal rings in spherical form. Particularly, this is similar in appearance to a soccer ball. They have excellent conductive and thermal properties. Also, they dissolve in common organic solvents at room temperature, which makes them effective conductors in organic, thin-film solar cells.1 Research into their application as an electron transporting layer in perovskite solar cells2, which are garnering attention as next-generation photovoltaic technology, is also underway. Additionally, their use as smartphone sensors and other new possibilities are indicative of strong growth potential in the field of fullerenes.

Mitsubishi - Denka

Toward Carbon Neutrality

Since establishing FCC in 2001, Mitsubishi has leveraged tech-based collaborations with longstanding customers. It has built a sales network and otherwise made strong inroads into the commercial-use fullerene market. Having acquired a substance3 and other fullerene-related patents, Mitsubishi commits to applying its multi-industry collective capabilities toward FCC’s future growth and development.

Primarily, energy transformations are a key part of Mitsubishi’s latest management plan, “Midterm Corporate Strategy 2024.”4 In relation, it demonstrates the company’s aim to help industries decarbonize by connecting their needs with seeds of growth in materials and other areas. Offering fullerene-based solutions is just one of the ways that Mitsubishi is playing its part to realize a carbon-neutral society.

Strengthen Presence in Carbon Nanomaterials

Mainly, Denka has strengths that will prove invaluable in supporting FCC’s future growth. Among them include the carbon-nano-material expertise and manufacturing technologies built up through its mass production of acetylene black5. Particularly, it is a highly conductive carbon material for high-voltage cables and lithium-ion batteries. Also, Denka will play an equally important role in supporting the construction of business infrastructure. To this end, it will take advantage of its manufacturing facility and other utilities. These assets promise to enhance the company’s presence in the carbon nanomaterials market and further its business expansion plans in this field.

Moreover, Denka recognizes that the industrial potential of fullerenes spans their use in electronics, biopharmaceuticals, and many other industries. Also, Denka has plans to incorporate them into its operations in ICT & Energy, Healthcare, and Sustainable Living, the three focal fields of its latest management plan, “Mission 2030”6.

Further, Mitsubishi and Denka look forward to combining their respective expertise in sales and technology to promote the growth of fullerene applications. Their shared goal is to leverage FCC’s operations to address societal challenges by developing systems to boost production and meet the growing demand for these cutting-edge materials.

1. Photovoltaic cells that use a thin film of organic semiconductors as the power-generating layer. There are two types of semiconductor materials (p-type and n-type), with fullerene being an n-type material.

2. Photovoltaic cells made from materials with a perovskite crystal structure, coated with a liquid form and baked on a thin glass or plastic substrate.

3. Fullerene substance patent: A basic patent for fullerenes in the US, covering the manufacture and sale of fullerenes (including products using fullerenes). (Patent number US7,494,638B1/US8,101,149B1)


5. A type of carbon black produced by the thermal decomposition of acetylene. The batteries and cables made with acetylene black are used in EVs and offshore wind power generation.

6. Eight-year management plan covering fiscal years 2023 to 2030.

-25 April 2024-