This section provides an overview for photocatalysts as well as their applications and principles. Also, please take a look at the list of 8 photocatalyst manufacturers and their company rankings. Here are the top-ranked photocatalyst companies as of February, 2024: 1.SHARP CORPORATION, 2.Strem Chemicals, Inc, 3.Okitsumo Incorporated.
1976~2001: Worked at the Geological Survey of the Industrial Science and Technology Agency of the Ministry of International Trade and Industry (initially). Engaged in research on resource geology at the Hokkaido Branch.
2001~2016: Worked as an industry-academia-government collaboration coordinator at the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology, and also served as the head of the Manufacturing Fundamental Technology Support Office.
2004~2016: R&B Park Sapporo Odori Satellite is a base to support the development of products and technologies through industry-academia-government collaboration in Hokkaido.
Currently working as a science and technology advisor.
Photocatalysts are substances that use the energy of light to promote chemical reactions.
Photocatalysts were developed in Japan in 1967, when Akira Fujishima, a graduate student at the University of Tokyo, discovered that bubbles appeared when light was shone on a titanium dioxide electrode in water. Titanium dioxide (TiO2), which has an anatase crystal structure, is the most widely used photocatalyst, but when it was first developed, it worked only with short-wavelength ultraviolet light.
However, as a result of efforts by the government and companies, highly efficient photocatalysts that can work even with visible light are now being developed one after another, partly because this is a purely domestic technology with a wide market for application.
Photocatalysts can decompose organic pollutants as long as they have light energy. Since it exhibits superhydrophilic properties, it has applications in a wide range of fields that take advantage of its characteristics.
There are many practical applications as a coating agent for building materials, such as tiles and glass. In outdoor areas exposed to sunlight, the use of this product on building exterior walls, window glass, traffic signs, signboards, etc., demonstrates its self-cleaning effect and disinfecting, antibacterial, and anti-fogging effects.
Indoors, in combination with ultraviolet lamps, it is used in air purifiers, deodorizers, and air conditioner filters. In addition, visible light-responsive Photocatalysts can be used on interior walls and doors of houses to provide antibacterial and deodorizing effects and help prevent sick building syndrome.
Including those under research and development, photocatalysts are also used for purification of drinking water, purification of water storage tanks, purification of air and lakes, wastewater treatment, soil decontamination, and artificial photosynthesis (water decomposition to produce hydrogen and oxygen).
Photocatalysts exposed to ultraviolet light have oxidative properties that oxidize and decompose organic matter and superhydrophilic properties that do not repel water at all. In fact, researchers do not have a unified view on the mechanism by which photocatalysts perform these functions, especially on the mechanism of generation of hydroxyl radicals as described below. Therefore, here we summarize the explanations that are widely and generally accepted.
When photocatalysts are exposed to light energy, the inside of the crystal enters a high-energy state and electrons on the crystal surface are temporarily moved away from the crystal structure. These electrons are negatively charged, and the holes (holes) from which the electrons leave are positively charged, both being highly unstable and reactive.
Therefore, when the electrons combine with oxygen in the air, they form O2- (superoxide ion), and when the holes extract electrons from water touching the catalyst surface they form -OH (hydroxyl radical).
O2- and -OH are both called reactive oxygen species, and they react with organic substances that come in contact with the catalyst surface to oxidize and decompose them. Photocatalysts accelerate the oxidation reaction by converting oxygen and water into reactive oxygen species, but they do not participate in the reaction and are not consumed themselves. Thus, photocatalysts are semi-permanently effective.
It is believed that active oxygen decomposes microscopic hydrophobic organic matter adsorbed on the surface of photocatalysts, and at the same time, the surface of the catalyst is covered with hydroxyl groups (-OH), resulting in the superhydrophilic property. In addition, a film of water penetrates between the titanium dioxide and the dirt, making it easier to remove large stains.
The most common photocatalysts today are based on titanium dioxide or tungsten trioxide. Titanium dioxide has been used in many photocatalytic products because it is physically and chemically stable and relatively inexpensive, but it initially had problems such as being able to use only ultraviolet energy.
Tungsten trioxide photocatalysts were developed to solve this problem. Currently, many products with unique innovations are available for both types of photocatalysts.
In terms of the proportion of energy within sunlight, ultraviolet light will only account for only about 3% and visible light for about 50%. Visible light responsive photocatalysts were developed to utilize the enormous amount of visible light energy.
Various types of visible light responsive photocatalysis are now commercialized, including those with trace amounts of nitrogen or metal mixed into the crystal structure of titanium dioxide or tungsten trioxide, and those with metal or metal oxides attached to their surfaces.
The higher the performance of a photocatalyst, the less likely it is to be used in direct contact with materials that are susceptible to oxidative degradation, such as organic fibers. To solve this problem, photocatalysts that are combined with apatite so that titanium dioxide does not come into direct contact with the material, and bonding materials that cover the surface of the organic base material so that it does not come into direct contact with the photocatalyst, are being commercialized.
*Including some distributors, etc.
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Sharp Corporation is a multinational electronics manufacturer based in Japan. They design and produce a wide range of electronic products, including TVs, smartphones, home appliances, and solar panels. The company was establish in 1912 in Tokyo and has received several awards for its products and technologies. In 2020, the company received the Red Dot Award for its Aquos Zero2 and iF Design Award for its Plasmacluster Ion Generator, along with multiple ENERGY STAR Partner of the Year Awards. Sharp's business model is centered on technology and research and development, enabling the manufacturing and supply like air purifiers, refrigerators, washing machines, and TVs.
Nikki-Universal Co., Ltd., established in 1963 and headquartered in Shinagawa-ku, Tokyo, is a manufacturer and supplier of UOP technologies. The company's product range includes refining and petrochemical industry solutions, GHG removal technologies, exhaust gas treatment catalysts, living environmental catalysts, and enzyme filters. These products are utilized in processes such as environmental protection, enhancing living conditions, and GHG removal. The company serve various sectors, including the semiconductor, enamel wire, automobile painting, and battery industries. Additionally, the company offers services like catalyst preparation, commercialization, and toll manufacturing.
Japan Photocatalyst Center, established in 2001 and based in Tokyo, Japan, is a manufacturer of photocatalysis technology. The company develops and applies photocatalytic materials and technologies for environmental purification and energy conversion. The company’s product includes PTA, PTA-FJ, TPX-85, and TPX-HP. Its research encompasses fields such as air and water purification, hydrogen production, and renewable energy. Its work has wide-ranging implications for environmental sustainability and clean energy industries. The company is certified in ISO 9001 and ISO 14001, ensuring quality management systems and environmental safety.
Okitsumo Incorporated , established in 1934 and headquartered in Mie, Japan, is a manufacturer of paint and coating solutions. Its diverse product range includes heat-resistant paint, fluorocarbon polymer paint with nonstick properties and resistance to chemicals, and functional coatings, which find applications in areas such as automobile exhaust systems, industrial equipment, and fire prevention coatings. The company holds ISO 9001 and ISO 14001 certifications for its quality management and environmental management systems.
Strem Chemicals, Inc, founded in 1964, is an American manufacturer and supplier of high-purity specialty chemicals and materials, based in Newburyport, Massachusetts. Acquired by Ascensus Specialties, another American chemical company in 2021, Strem offers a catalog of over 6,000 specialty products under the metal, inorganic, organometallic, and nanomaterial categories. Some of their diverse product offerings include metal catalysts for organic synthesis, metal carbonyls, metal organic chemical vapor deposition (MOCVD) and atomic layer deposition (ALD) precursors. Strem serves global customers, particularly academic, governmental, and industrial research and development laboratories. Their products find applications in various industries, including microelectronics, chemicals, petrochemicals, and pharmaceuticals.
Millipore Sigma, formerly known as Sigma-Aldrich, was created in 175 through the merger of Sigma Chemical Company and Aldrich Chemical company and today is a subsidiary of Merck. Millipore Sigma is a life science and biotechnology company serving the industry with several products and services. Some of their product categories include peptide synthesis materials, biochemicals, building blocks, catalysts, chemical biology, chemical synthesis, flavors & fragrances, formulation, lab chemicals, lab safety, APIs, and stable isotopes. Services include characterization, contract manufacturing, custom products, software, support, testing, and mRNA development & manufacturing.
Shin-Etsu Chemical Co., Ltd., founded in 1926 in Japan, is a manufacturer and distributor of synthetic chemicals and electronic materials, such as semiconductor silicon and rare earth quartz. The company offers a wide range of products, including silicone sealants and rubbers, as well as cellulose derivatives used in foods and pharmaceuticals, and rare earth magnets. The company has four core business segments, including infrastructure chemicals, electronics materials, silicone-based functional agents, and specialized engineering for the development of plant design, construction, and maintenance.
*Including some distributors, etc.
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