As one of Japan’s three major heavy industries, IHI has contributed to the development of social infrastructure and is now making every effort to transform it into a sustainable one. Singapore has become a development base for IHI’s environmental technology research in the Asia-Pacific region (APAC). We spoke with Mr Hiroki Kobayashi, President of IHI ASIA PACIFIC, to explore the current state of IHI’s technology development, which is accelerating in Singapore.
Establishing a joint centre with A*STAR’s ISCE2 strengthens its functions as an APAC R&D base
IHI’s environmental technology is garnering global attention, particularly its expertise in ammonia, which is being recognized as a next-generation carbon-free fuel. While originally rooted in the shipbuilding industry, IHI currently focuses on aero engines as its main business. The conglomerate emphasizes the development of environmental technologies due to the imperative of reducing CO2 emissions, which is a pressing concern in all of its business sectors.
The company has declared its commitment to achieving carbon neutrality across its entire value chain by 2050. So, why did IHI choose Singapore as its R&D base in the Asia-Pacific region? Mr Kobayashi explains the advantages:
“Singapore, being a small country, embraces international talent and attracts a diverse range of researchers from around the world through the Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR), Singapore’s public sector research and development agency. We wanted to become part of the ecosystem formed by venture companies’ participation and promote innovation.”
Throughout 2022, there were numerous reports about the company collaborating with government agencies and companies in Singapore for this development. In March, a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed to establish a joint centre for research and development with the Institute for Chemical, Energy, and Environmental Sustainability (ISCE2) under A*STAR. The primary research focus is on carbon-neutral solutions that balance greenhouse gas emissions and absorption.
“In January 2014, we signed a Master Research Collaboration Agreement with A*STAR and began collaborating on efficient research and development in various technological fields, including chemical technology. Prior to signing the Comprehensive Research and Development Agreement in 2011, we had already engaged in joint research with A*STAR on methanation technology, which converts CO2 into methane, the primary component of natural gas. This collaboration lasted until 2018, and in 2019, we successfully completed a demonstration device. The outcome of that collaboration provided the impetus for our decision to establish the joint centre.”
Mr Kobayashi further explains why IHI started working with A*STAR: “In the late 2000s, IHI began working towards realizing a recycling-oriented society. We conducted research and development at our research institute in Yokohama, Japan, but we were unable to keep up with demand. Hence, we decided to set up research bases in the United States, the United Kingdom, China, and the Asia-Pacific region. In Singapore, IHI is collaborating with A*STAR.”
Collaborating with a Singaporean Company to Develop Ammonia Technology, which is Garnering Global Attention
This article is an adaptation of シンガポールでアジア太平洋地域向けの環境技術開発を IHI、持続可能なインフラ再構築への挑戦 (edb.gov.sg) by the Singapore Economic Development Board (EDB). The Singapore Economic Development Board (EDB), a government agency under the Ministry of Trade and Industry, is responsible for strategies that enhance Singapore’s position as a global centre for business, innovation, and talent. Have the latest insights, stories and analyses on how companies are growing in Asia delivered to your inbox here.