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Vol. 32 No. 3
May-June 2010

Conference Call | Reports from recent conferences and symposia 
See also

The COCI East Asian Regional Workshop

by Akira Ishitani

The second Committee on Chemistry and Industry (COCI) Workshop on Chemical Industries and IUPAC, focusing on East Asia, was held on 7–9 April 2009 at the Kanagawa Science Park Hotel in Kawasaki, Kanagawa, Japan. A total of 47 people from 11 countries attended, including IUPAC President Jung-Il Jin, 12 COCI members, 10 prominent speakers from 4 countries—USA, China, Korea, Japan, and China Taipei—including Minjoong Yoon, the president of the Korean Chemical Society and 10 representatives of Company Associates in Japan.

The workshop began with a special invited presentation by A. Fujishima, chairman of the chemistry committee of the Science Council of Japan, the National Adhering Organization to IUPAC. Fujishima is the chairman of KAST, which was one of the supporting organizations for this workshop, and he is one of the leading scientists in Japan. His talk was on photocatalysts that he invented and developed into a successful and innovative technology in Japan. He began with an account of finding the Honda-Fujishima effect, reported in Nature in 1972, which involves the decomposition of water into hydrogen and oxygen on the surface of TiO2 under UV irradiation. He later discovered a second effect, whereby the surface of the coated TiO2 became strongly wettable under irradiation. The two remarkable effects were combined and used in numerous applications such as air and water purification, surface self-cleaning, and bactericidal applications. Many commercial products were developed from the technology, such as bactericidal walls in hospitals, self cleaning window glass in huge buildings, side mirrors on automobiles, windows on lamps for highway illumination, air filter cleaning, and even agricultural applications such as fertilizer solution recycling. Fujishima also discussed the Photocatalyst Museum located within the Kanagawa Science Park. His talk aroused much interest from the audience.

IUPAC President Jung-Il Jin reviewed the mission and activities of IUPAC for participants. In particular, Jin mentioned the new IUPAC Committee on Chemical Research Funding, where the Samsung IUPAC fund of USD 125 000, is being used for a pilot project in polymer chemistry. He also discussed plans for the International Year of Chemistry in 2011.

Group photo from the second COCI Workshop on Chemical Industries and IUPAC, 7–9 April 2009 in Kawasaki, Kanagawa, Japan.

COCI Chair Mark Cesa reviewed the mission and activities of COCI, which strives to generate globally important projects such as the Safety Training Program and Workshops, public appreciation of chemistry, and Responsible Care, and has the responsibility within IUPAC for relations and interactions with Company Associates. He explained the aims of the Kawasaki Workshop, which follows the successful workshop for Western Europe in Marl, Germany, in 2008. The workshops provide a forum for summarizing the present conditions of the regional chemical industries, and for discussing the activities of chemical societies in the East Asia region. The major goal of the workshops is to identify possibilities for strengthening relations between IUPAC and chemical industries.

Shu Zhaoxia, Beijing Economic Technology Institute, SINOPEC, gave an overview of the chemical industry in China, stating that it comprises 7 percent of the total output value of all of Chinese industry. Within the chemical industry, ethylene and its derivatives contribute the majority of chemical output at 75 percent. Both demand and capacity growth in China are several times greater than the world average, she said.

Jinliang Qiao, Vice-President, Beijing Chemical Engineering Institute, SINOPEC, talked about the current state of chemical research in China. He described 1978 as “spring time” for science in China, since a year later Chine experience uninterrupted research progress for 30 years. By 2005, he stated, China published around 140 000 papers, which were 13.2 percent of the world total and in third place overall, with a 112 percent increase over 2001. In the 1980s industrial research bridged business and academia, but by the 1990s industrial R&D shifted to a shorter-term focus, thus creating a gap as universities focused on basic research. Qiao noted that it is very important to fill the gap between basic research and commercialization to allow for smooth technology transfer from universities to industry.

The petrochemical industry in Korea was the focus of a talk by Chan-Hyun Choi, senior vice president of R&D at Samsung Total Petrochemical Co., Ltd. He said that the history of the Korean chemical industry shows that the period 1972 to 1990 was the take-off stage, 1990 to 1997 the growth stage, 1997 to 2001 a restructuring stage, from 2002 to 2008 a boom stage, and from 2008 on it probably will be in a restructuring stage again. Korean petrochemical products are mostly exported to China and Asian countries. Most of the technologies being used are licensed from abroad, he noted. R&D is being done separately by companies with very little collaboration between industry and universities. Choi stated that the Korean chemical industry needs restructuring by mergers and acquisitions with a focus on more high value added products used in IT, NT and ET. As for collaboration with IUPAC, Samsung has supported the Young Polymer Scientist Award since 2003, and has donated USD 125 000 for polymer chemistry projects. Choi suggested that IUPAC hold miniconferences on special topics such as environmental issues and specialty polymers.

Korean Chemical Society President Minjoong Yoon of Chungnam National University provided an overview of his organization, which celebrated its 60th anniversary in 2006, the National Year of Chemistry in Korea. The KCS has over 6000 members and an annual budget of USD 1.3 million. It publishes two academic journals, two magazines, monographs and educational materials. It gives the KCS Award, organizes and holds international and domestic conferences, meetings and seminars, and provides activities for chemical education.

Taiwan’s chemical industries have generated sales amounting to 30 percent of the total from Taiwanese manufacturing industries, according to workshop speaker Jonq-Min Liu, general director of the Material and Chemical Research Laboratories, Industrial Technology Research. He noted that Taiwan’s chemical industrial growth has been around 10 percent every year since 2004 until the world financial crisis hit, when growth rates slowed to 2.4 percent. Production in 2008 was valued USD 120 billion, and the industry employed 430 000 people.

Tetsuo Nishide, executive director of the Japanese Chemical Industries Association, gave a status report on the industry in Japan and described what his organization does. According to Nishide, shipments of chemical products from Japan are third in the world. A comparison of the chemical industries in Japan with overall Japanese manufacturing shows that the chemical industry contributes 13 percent of all shipments, 15.6 percent of value added, 11.1 percent of total employees, and 20 percent of R&D. He noted that the JCIA, established in 1948, has 182 company members and 75 associate members.

Activities of the Chemical Society of Japan were the subject of a talk by Teruto Ohta, secretary general of CSJ. Founded in 1878, CSJ is now the fifth largest such organization in the world, said Ohta. It has over 30 000 members, 37 staff, and an annual budget of approximately USD 10 million. Annual meetings gather over 9000 participants and 6000 papers. The CSJ has close relations with many international organizations like IUPAC, FACS, C6 and C3, and it organizes PACIFICHEM, which draws over 11 000 participants from 64 countries.

After the presentations, a general discussion followed with the subject of identifying possible activities COCI and IUPAC could undertake that would benefit chemists and chemical industries in the East Asian region. A few of the major themes in the presentations and discussions involved concerns over the academic-industry research and development gap; the need for increasing public appreciation of chemistry and recruitment of the best students to chemistry; participation in activities of the International Year of Chemistry; and the importance of chemical expertise to economic competitiveness in the region. The differences between the chemical economies of the East Asian countries were well noted by the attendees. Several new activities were suggested by the attendees following on the themes discussed in the presentations. Suggestions included internships at East Asian Company Associates for students and industrial scientists from other regions; technology transfer success stories; life cycle analysis; and awards for industrial chemistry. These are being considered by COCI.

Many attendees reported that the workshop provided a valuable forum for sharing information and building contacts that may result in future collaborations. It was noted by COCI members that many of the issues raised at this workshop were the same as ones raised at the Western European Workshop held in 2008. It was suggested that this workshop could be used as a model for workshops in other regions. Possibilities for future workshops include the Middle East, Eastern Europe, and Latin America.

IUPAC and COCI note with gratitude the generous financial support for the Workshop provided by the organizers and the Japanese Company Associates, particularly for the local arrangements such as the lodging, meals, receptions, and tours for guests. In addition, the efforts of the speakers who volunteered to attend and participate are particularly acknowledged. The COCI East Asia Workshop was very productive, and further workshops in other regions are planned for the coming years.

The Workshop was supported by IUPAC, the Chemical Society of Japan, Science Council of Japan, and the Kanagawa Academy of Science and Technology. Financial support was provided by IUPAC, COCI and the Japanese Company Associates. The workshop was organized by a task group led by COCI Titular Member Akira Ishitani, with assistance from Mark Cesa, COCI chair, Michael Booth, COCI secretary and treasurer, and Michael Droescher, associate member. In addition, a local organizing committee led by Ishitani provided local arrangements.

Recent Outreach
In 2010, COCI is continuing to reach out to industry and exchanging ideas. Thus, an interesting and successful panel discussion on “Activities and Research Developments in Kuwait Industry” was held in conjunction with the Kuwait Conference on Chemistry in Kuwait City on 9 March 2010. The event was held a day prior to the COCI annual meeting, and at the same location, allowing attendees to join both events. The panel discussion was organized by Titular Member Khalida Al-Dalama under the auspices of the Kuwait Chemical Society. In addition to a presentation by Colin Humphris on COCI activities, there were multiple contributions from Kuwait industries.

Note: Mark Cesa and Michael Droescher contributed to this report.

Akira Ishitani <[email protected]> is from the Kanagawa Academy of Science and Technology, Kanagawa, Japan. Until 2009, he was an active member of COCI, representing Japan and its Company Associates. Japan has the largest industrial representation in IUPAC.

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