In May 2021, Sumitomo Corporation established the Green Chemical Business Development Team within the Basic Chemicals & Electronics Division to create environmental businesses. The Division deals with a range of products, including petrochemicals, inorganic/performance chemicals, and electronic materials. The Development Team will collect knowledge and information from the departments of the Division to encourage a circular economy and contribute to the reduction of environmental impacts. It will enhance cooperation both within and outside the company to promote the development of specific new businesses to create new value.
In October 2021, Sumitomo Corporation acquired shares of Cemvita Factory ('Cemvita') as the first investment made through the Green Chemical Business Development Team.
Cemvita manufactures ethylene from carbon dioxide
Cemvita is a startup based in the United States. By making use of the microbial decomposition of carbon dioxide (CO2), this startup has developed a technology for manufacturing ethylene from CO2 and is conducting R&D to commercialize it.
In recent years, society has been accelerating the trend toward discontinuing the use of plastic materials. Japan is no exception, and the country has promoted measures such as charging for plastic bags that used to be distributed for free at stores, and introducing paper straws at restaurants. However, plastic materials are still indispensable for the manufacture of various products, such as automobiles and home electric appliances, as they are light and easy to process. Accordingly, demand for ethylene, a petrochemical product that is used to manufacture plastic materials, will continue to be brisk. Under these circumstances, requests for carbon neutrality are increasing also in the petrochemical field. There are expectations for the development of petrochemical product manufacturing processes that do not emit CO2 and for systems that collect and use emitted CO2 to reduce the emissions into the air to zero.
Sumitomo Corporation aims to make its environmental impact reduction and contribution to decarbonization compatible with meeting the demand for ethylene by helping Cemvita establish the technology to manufacture ethylene by using non-fossil fuels and by utilizing the startup's knowledge and know-how. Moreover, Sumitomo Corporation will consider cooperating with Cemvita also in fields other than the petrochemical field, as the startup has multiple technologies that make use of microorganisms.
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