About KUNIMINE INDUSTRIES

Research & Development

Research & development strategies and policies

Development policies

Our motto in developing and proposing products is "Put our head together with customers and resolve issues." We bring out the potential of clay considered to have 1,000 uses with our technologies and provide products appropriate for customers' needs.

Structure for collaboration

Vertical collaboration in the process of new product development ranging from basic research and applied development to product proposal is realized by conducting joint research with universities and public research institutes, making proposals for and serving customers, and conducting joint research with them as needed. In addition, lateral collaboration between the Iwaki Laboratory engaged in applied development and the Kuroiso Laboratory engaged in analysis and basic research enables prompt development.

Core technologies

Technology map

Based on application of six core technologies that take advantage of the properties of clay, our products are used in various fields. Recently, progress has been made in new applied development combining core and peripheral technologies, and the clay has been used in an increasingly wider range of fields including the functional materials field.

Examples of development in new fields

Research & development story: Introduction

Clay minerals, which have a high affinity for organic substances, are said to be the origin of life in the primitive earth.
It is known that the surface of clay has catalytic ability and adsorption ability. Currently, it is believed that organic substances are adsorbed to the surface of clay in hydrothermal vents to cause formation, accumulation, polymerization, and other reactions of biomolecules. Generally, a place where such a reaction takes place is called a magic surface, which may be a key to solving the mystery of the beginning of life.

Research & development story: Background

The development of medicine is supported by the development of testing equipment and new pharmaceuticals. The process of developing a new pharmaceutical begins with a structural analysis of the target, which requires crystallized materials. If the target is an unknown protein, it takes an immense amount of time and effort to find the crystallization conditions.
We came up with the idea that if we can take advantage of the properties of clay minerals, which are said to be the origin of life, to promote and control the crystallization of proteins, the speed of development of pharmaceuticals can be increased dramatically.

Technology development

We carried out material development and evaluation tests simultaneously with the cooperation of Tokyo University of Science.
When the origin of life is mentioned, natural clay may come to your mind. We have various kinds of natural clay with globally unique properties. However, because there was a need to design a material itself in order to control the properties as desired or obtain desired properties, we used our own synthetic clay as a material for development this time.

Protein type Molecular weight(kDa) Isoelectric point Electric charge Number of days required for crystallization
Without AC

With AC

Aprotinin 6.5 9.2 + 7 2
Avidin 14.3 9.7 + 5 1
Concanavalin A 25.6 6.0 + 26 13
Lysozyme 14.3 9.3 + N.C. 22
Thaumatin 22.2 8.3 + 55 25
Trypsin 23 10.1 + N.C. 34
Albumin 66 4.7 - N.C. 14
Catalase 240 5.5 - 12 5
Gulucose isomerase 172 5.0 - N.C. 2
Proteinase K 28.9 8.3 - N.C. 8
L-Lactate dehydrogenase 32.8 5.9 - N.C. 5
Xylanase 21 9.0 ± 8 2

Reference
Heterogeneous nucleation of protein crystals on fluorinated layered silicate. PLoS ONE. Vol6, Issue7, e22582, July, 2011.

Crystallization of a protein was an unknown territory that we had not entered, and we had to do demonstrations under various conditions and reflect the results of those demonstrations in material development, and faced a lot of difficulties.
However, researchers' strong desires to contribute to the development of new pharmaceuticals and to take on new challenges in the unknown territory enabled us to overcome these difficulties, and finally, a new product, ACCELL CORE, was completed.
Using ACCELL CORE in the process of crystallization makes it possible to crystallize proteins that could not be crystallized previously, and significantly reduces the time required for crystallization.
The potential of ACCELL CORE is still growing.
ACCELL CORE will further grow in the future through customization to suit various needs, such as pharmaceuticals that can selectively promote crystallization of a certain target, or those that work on a wider range of targets.
We will continue to pursue the potential of clay minerals and contribute to society by taking advantage of their unique properties.

Research & development facilities

Kuroiso Laboratory

The Kuroiso Laboratory always accepts requests for contracted evaluation tests and analyses on bentonite.

Field Item Equipment available / used
Properties of bentonite Water content  
pH  
Conductivity  
Amount of methylene blue adsorption  
Amount of leaching cations  
Cation exchange capacity  
Chemical composition X-ray fluorescence spectrometer
Mineral identification Powder X-ray diffractometer
Differential thermal analysis Differential thermal analysis equipment
Electron-microscopic surface observation Scanning electron microscope
Electron-microscopic composition analysis Energy dispersion X-ray analyzer
Particle size distribution (wet / dry) Laser diffraction particle size analyzer
Full-automatic sonic sieving particle size analyzer (Robot Sifter)
True specific gravity Dry automatic densimeter
Specific surface area Surface area measuring instrument
Ion quantification Atomic absorption spectrophotometer
Whiteness Spectrophotometer
Ion quantification Ion chromatograph
ζ-potential Zeta electrometer

The laboratory also conducts contracted tests and analyses in special fields related to bentonite on a routine basis.

Field Test item Test details
Green sand for casting Green sand test Compactability
Green compression strength
Surface stability
Air permeability
Moisture-condensed layer tensile strength
Silica program Total clay
Active clay
Ignition loss
Metal content
Hydrofluoric acid solubles
Particle size distribution
Residual ratio of starch
Civil engineering and building foundations Viscosity test B-type viscometer
FANN Viscometer
Rion viscometer
Soil test Soil particle density
Water content
Liquid limit, plastic limit
Permeability test
Compaction test
Pets Cat litter test Apparent specific gravity
Cat litter solidification test
Deodorizing power
Water absorption

In addition to conducting contracted tests and analyses, the laboratory holds courses for green sand engineers. Over 120 courses have been held, starting 30 years ago.

Iwaki Laboratory

The Iwaki Laboratory always accepts requests for various kinds of granulation and contracted development of refined clay or synthetic clay.

Field Item Major equipment available / used
Cosmetics
Paint thickeners
Lipophilization treatment
Silicate mineral synthesis
Compounding
Lipophilization treatment plant
Hydrothermal synthesis device
Vacuum emulsification device
Batch kneader
Homo mixer
Resin Fillers
Clay films
Catalysts
Adsorbents
Ion exchange
Compounding
Cation exchange equipment
Centrifugal mixer
Wet grinding mill
Vibrated membrane filtration system
Granulation
Coating

Extrusion granulation

Stirring granulation

Fluidized-bed granulation

Vertical / horizontal extrusion granulator
High-speed agitation granulator
Fluidized-bed granulator