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Recognition of three new chemical heritages


The Chemical Society of Japan (President: Hiroaki Suga), a public-interest incorporated association, announced on February 7, 2024 its recognition of three new chemical heritages (Nos. 065 to 067). The certificates were presented at the 104th Annual Spring Meeting Awards Ceremony on March 19, 2024. The three newly recognized chemical heritages are the materials related to the development and production of domestically produced penicillin (Authorized Chemical Heritage No. 065), the oldest existing amino-acid analyzer in Japan (No. 066), and the materials showcasing the industrialization of polystyrene in Japan during the Pacific War (No. 067).

Chemical Heritage No. 065: Materials related to the development and production of domestic penicillin

Penicillin was discovered in England in 1928. In Japan, scientists from various fields who had been mobilized for scientific research by the Penicillin Committee (February 1944 to May 1945, established at the Army Medical College) gathered as a unit named "Hekiso" to conduct research and development. In only nine months, 1.5 L of penicillin were successfully mass-produced. Immediately after the war, as one of GHQ's peace projects, Toyo Rayon (now Toray Industries, Inc.) responded to the call for participation. Under the guidance of Dr. Jackson W. Foster, deep-culture production was successfully developed, and large-scale industrial production was initiated at a rate of 7.5 kL/month (late 1946−August 1947). The technology was disseminated domestically and catalyzed the development of the Japanese antibiotic industry.

The following items have been recognized as chemical heritage: the "Hekiso ampule" (Collection: Japan Antibiotics Research Association, a public-interest incorporated foundation), the "Minutes of the 6th Meeting of the Penicillin Committee", the "Yearbook of the Research Department of the Army Medical College (Penicillin Section)", the "Logbook of the Research Department (Volume 4 / 4 volumes combined)" (Collection: Mr. Haruhiko Inagaki), the "Blueprints of the culture tanks at the penicillin factory of Toyo Rayon Co. Ltd.", and "Initial materials on the company's penicillin production" (Collection: Toray Industries, Inc.).

Hekiso ampule (10 cc) (Part of the collection of the Japan Antibiotics Research Association, a public-interest incorporated foundation, and displayed at Naito Museum of Pharmaceutical Science and Industry)
Provided by the Chemical Society of Japan

Chemical Heritage No. 066: The oldest amino-acid analyzer in Japan

The first amino-acid analyzer in Asia was introduced in 1962 as the Hitachi KLA-2 type amino-acid analyzer, based on the principle reported by Dr. Stanford Moore et al. in 1958. The design drawings have been preserved but the actual instrument no longer exists. The system originally switched between two separation columns. Subsequently, JEOL Ltd. developed a method for the continuous separation of a single column. In conjunction with the development of high-performance liquid chromatography during the same period, Hitachi, Ltd. announced the Model 835 high-speed amino-acid analyzer in 1977.

While the KLA-2 performed its analysis in 21 h, Model 835 reduced this time to less than 1h. The company achieved higher speeds through HPLC (High Performance Liquid Chromatography) by replacing the glass column with stainless steel and developing a fine Japanese ion-exchange resin capable of withstanding 20 MPa (megapascal).

The existing Model 835 high-speed amino-acid analyzer has been recognized as chemical heritage because it is a valuable instrument that provides a detailed picture of the technological transition from the early days of amino-acid analyzers to the HPLC machine.

Model 835 Hitachi high-speed amino-acid analyzer (Collection: Naka Works, Hitachi High-Tech Science Corporation)
Provided by the Chemical Society of Japan

Chemical Heritage No. 067: Materials showcasing the industrialization of polystyrene in Japan during the Pacific War

Polystyrene (PS) was industrialized in Germany in 1930 with the establishment of styrene monomer (SM) production technology and imported to Japan. At that time, the ethylbenzene dehydrogenation process had a low yield. In Japan, the difficulty of importing PS during the Pacific War increased the need for PS as a high-frequency insulator essential for radar development. The government and military therefore supported the industrialization of private companies.

SHIONO KORYO KAISHA, LTD., Hodogaya Chemical Co., Ltd., and Nihon Yuki Co., Ltd. (now Kao Corporation) developed their own SM production methods by utilizing their respective special technologies, distinct from those used in Germany. They began producing one to several tons per month consecutively in 1943−1944.

SHIONO KORYO, the only company that was not destroyed by fire during air raids, preserved the design specifications ordered by the Ministry of Munitions, the equipment completion reports, the production and receipt/payment reports, the cost accounting sheets, and other documents that were recognized as chemical heritage.

Order form for the designation of a factory in the name of the Minister of Munitions (Collection: SHIONO KORYO).
Provided by the Chemical Society of Japan

This article has been translated by JST with permission from The Science News Ltd. ( Unauthorized reproduction of the article and photographs is prohibited.

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