Kao Corp. announced the completion of its new eco-technology research center (ETRC) and eco-lab museum, which opened June 8, 2011. According to the company, the center will focus on the development of functional materials such as renewable ingredients and plant-derived biomass, non-edible oil plants, and fundamental technologies for water-saving products. Additionally, the company will strive to develop environmental technologies that will become the core of the Kao business in the fields of water, food and green chemicals. The ETRC combines research previously being conducted in separate labs into one facility, which will allow for integrated research.
The total investment in the ETRC facility and museum amounts to approximately 16 billion yen, and the facilities were designed to embody the company's vision for ecology-centered management during the process of developing and manufacturing products. The ETRC consists of three facilities for a total of approximately 23,000 square meters. It consists of the seven-story ETRC main building, the ground floor of which is the Kao Eco-Lab Museum; the pilot research building for research and scale-up; and the plant biomass research building for plant cultivation work.
Moreover, the ETRC main building incorporates functions for environmental technology management research. In the greenhouse within the plant biomass building, such plants as oil palms and coconut palms are cultivated, which are used in the company's products. Learning more about these plants’ life cycles will reportedly assist in the company's work toward next-generation raw materials. The greenhouse is expected to house more than 80 different species of oil plants and will utilize equipment such as photovoltaic power generators for supplying electricity, along with energy-saving draft regulating and air conditioning systems.