Featuring a Global Perspective for Energy Issues, Non-Ceramic Business Is Opening Up a New Arena for Social Commitment

Both advanced and developing nations alike share energy issues, but the challenges they face are different. Murata is looking at ways to offer products that suit countries both with and without abundant power supply. To this end, the company needs to develop products from a global perspective, products that allow it to meet the challenges of opening up new markets; and this is exactly where Karun Malhotra can make the best use of the international experience he has accumulated in India, Canada, Japan, and the USA.

Karun Malhotra Director, Corporate Technology Planning & Management Group, Technology & Business Development Unit

Profile

After joining Murata Manufacturing in 1990, Malhotra engaged in research and development, worked at capacitor factories in Japan and North America, and was involved in capacitor marketing in North America, and was attached to new capacitor business departments in Japan, each for 5 to 6 years. He took his current position in March 2012. While working out a future technical strategy, Malhotra is also responsible for launching Murata’s energy business. His favorite pastimes are walking, cooking, and studying other cultures.

With a completely new capacitor made of a so-called “non-ceramic” material, Murata reached a significant milestone in its capacitor technology in October 2010. Non-ceramic technology is going to open up a totally new business domain, and this represents another opportunity for Murata to develop new markets in the areas of technology.

Developing Non-Ceramic Capacitors Entering the Energy Market

I have been working on the development of non-ceramic capacitors. Research into carbon capacitors, which we started 5 years ago, culminated in the launch of a commercial product in October 2010. With its high storage efficiency, the electrical double layer capacitor (EDLC) can be used like a battery in electronic equipment. As such it is expected to help us expand our business in the promising new energy market. Our innovative non-ceramic technology has already been employed in the power electronics of such products as digital still cameras, digital video cameras, and hybrid vehicles; and we are now studying ways of applying it to automotive engineering and the storage of nighttime power.

Modern ceramic capacitors are used to “organize” the conditions of electric power rather than to store energy. Functionality is, therefore, a more important factor than capacitance. By contrast, EDLC technology can provide high capacitance because it features high energy density and because it can be downsized easily. It can, therefore, be used to store energy regenerated in electric vehicles.

Alliances Facilitate Future Growth

When it comes to developing new energy businesses, I believe Murata lacks sufficient ability to work alone. What we need is a technical partnership covering a broad range of fields, both within the company and in collaboration with external parties. Indeed, I believe that the future will see corporations growing through such alliances. We have recently seen lots of mergers and acquisitions. But in many such cases, the buyer tends to absorb the partner into its culture. For partners to be successful, they must show respect for each other, and alliances ensure such mutual respect. In the energy market, too, we will seek possible partners around the globe.

The new Murata EDLC has also been made possible through an alliance. In 2008, we partnered with CAP-XX, an Australian venture boasting activated charcoal technology. Developed using CAP-XX technology, the new EDLC employs no chemical reaction. Instead it can accumulate energy by physically adsorbing ions to activated charcoal surfaces. Unlike the conventional rechargeable battery technology, it can repeat charges and discharges almost indefinitely. It also allows for rapid charging and discharging. The polymer aluminum electrolytic capacitor is based on the functional polymer capacitor technology taken over from Showa Denko.

Environment and Energy

Murata has announced its policy of focusing on three promising growth markets: environmental/energy technology, automobiles, and healthcare.
By the fiscal year ending March 2013, the company aims to achieve 40 billion yen in net sales from these 3 markets, expecting that the environmental/energy technology will account for 50% of this figure. Here, the company has first started the mass-production of an EDLC, and it is now rapidly developing new products based on functional polymer capacitor technology taken over from Showa Denko.

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