Japanese firm drops organic acids in favour of lens materials
Struggling Japanese firm Mitsui Chemicals is persevering in its efforts to realign its product portfolio and return to profitability. The company is selling off its maleic anhydride and fumaric acid businesses to compatriot Fuso Chemical, and has bought into the photochromic spectacle lens business by acquiring US glass and materials specialist Corning’s Sunsensors brand.
Mitsui is in the process of streamlining its phenol and isocyanate businesses, including closing its Kashima works. That site also produces maleic anhydride and fumaric acid, and Fuso needs the maleic anhydride to make malic acid, of which it is the only manufacturer in Japan. Fuso will take on the whole organic acid business, and develop it to produce a range of fruit acids, including gluconic acid and citric acid.
Mitsui is already well established in ophthalmic lens materials, so the Sunsensors purchase gives the company a convenient entry into the rapidly growing market for UV-sensitive lenses that darken in response to sunlight.