Diminishing fossil fuel reserves, global climate changes and increasing demand for energy are spurring a great deal of academic and industrial research into alternative, renewable sources of fuel and chemicals. We are working on the development of novel catalyst and their application in the field of environment and energy combined with chemical engineering. In particular, we are challenging to identify attractive chemical synthesis routes, understand the fundamentals of required catalytic pathways and the necessity of tuning different catalytically active sites for the conversion of biomass to selective basic chemicals useful in petrochemical and energy industries by using heterogeneous catalytic technology.

Team Leader, Dr. Isao Nakamura


  • Energy carrier/fundamental technology for the ammonia utilization
  • Development of the process to produce various basic chemicals from biomass
  • Functional design of the metal cluster catalysts

Energy carrier/fundamental technology for the ammonia utilization

In recent years, hydrogen is considered as a clean energy source to avoid environmental pollution. However, the low energy density of hydrogen in both compressed gas and liquid forms makes the storage of hydrogen difficult for most of the applications. This limitation most strongly effects onboard storage and also in the delivery and distribution of hydrogen. Hydrogen’s low energy density is perhaps one of the greatest barriers to the implementation of hydrogen fueled fuel cell vehicles. Since the hydrogen is difficult to transport, the liquid ammonia is considered as an alternative energy carrier. The two important factors make ammonia a candidate of choice. Firstly, its high energy density and the vapor pressure (9.2 bars at room temperature) make its storage simple and inexpensive. Secondly, ammonia has a large weight fraction of hydrogen. Hydrogen constitutes 17.65% of the mass of ammonia. Moreover, ammonia can be easily decomposed over a catalyst to produce hydrogen (H2) along with nitrogen (N2) a non-toxic, non-greenhouse gas. Hence, the development of the high purity hydrogen supply systems based on ammonia is expected to promote the spread of the fuel-cell vehicles due to reduced costs of hydrogen supply infrastructure. Furthermore, ammonia production is a well-established and economical technology.

Development of the process to produce various basic chemicals from biomass

There is an increasing demand for fuel and polymeric materials and the foreseeable shortage and depletion of crude oil. Hence, there is an urgent need for the development of alternative ways to satisfy the growing demand for chemicals and fuels. Biomass has attracted considerable interest as an alternative resource because it is a renewable resource with fewer adverse effects on the environment. The resins produced from biomass resources have been developed for plastic products, but it is not sufficient in terms of cost and performance. Hence the objective of this work is to develop a technology to produce basic chemicals more efficiently from the biomass-derived materials.

Functional design of the metal cluster catalysts

We are also trying to explore a method to directly disperse and fix the metal clusters below 2 nm diameters on the surfaces with different physical properties or porous structures such as metal oxides, carbon materials, polymers, and organic-inorganic hybrids. Our main objectives are to develop new reactions for gas-phase oxygen oxidation, liquid-phase oxygen oxidation, selective hydrogenation, and organic synthesis etc. by using the above developed catalysts, and develop new horizons in the expanding field of green and sustainable chemistry.


  • Team Leader

    Isao Nakamura

  • Senior researcher

    Asima Sultana

  • Senior researcher

    Tomohisa Miyazawa

  • Senior researcher

    Katsuya Shimura

  • Senior Researcher

    Poly Sharmin

  • Technical Staff

    Kunio Suzuki

  • Temporary Staff

    Shouichi Kanazawa

  • Technical Staff

    Takashi Sakuraba

  • Technical Staff

    Kousuke Satou

  • Technical Staff

    Kimihiro Kaneko

  • Temporary Staff

    Noriko Kakitani

*Please add “” after each local part.