The Massive Power of Tiny Bubbles NAC Corporation IP

Website: NAC Corporation (Japanese)external link
Category: Machinery

They're too small to be seen with the naked eye, but the nanobubbles created by NAC Corporation's products have a wide range of real-world applications

Making sure that crops and other food products stay fresh is of crucial importance for businesses in the agriculture and food industry, and could have a strong effect on their bottom lines. NAC Corporation's Foamest line of machines help these companies prevent food waste, thanks to the help of millions of tiny bubbles.

NAC Corporation is located in the town of Seki, Gifu Prefecture. It's a region that has long been known for high quality razors and blades. And while the firm is not involved in metalwork, their products are cutting edge: proprietary nanofilm and devices that produce nanobubbles.

The Foamest products can generate nanobubbles in a variety of formats, courtesy of NAC Corporation

As company president Atsushi Nakashima explains, nanobubbles' effectiveness stems from their unique physical properties. They range in diameter from 100 nanometers to 50 micrometers, and this diminutive girth affords them a huge amount of surface tension, which leads to a unique set of physical properties, particularly for cleaning and disinfecting.

NAC Corporation President, Atsushi Nakashima

A Revolutionary Material

“Other companies use many different techniques to generate nanobubbles, but we are the only company in the world that uses a nanofilm to generate nanobubbles,” Nakashima says. Developed by a joint effort between the Gifu University and NAC, the film keeps water out but is gas permeable. NAC's manufacturing process allows them to adjust the size of the holes in the film, creating different bubble sizes.

As exotic as they sound, these tiny spheres are used in a variety of down-to-earth applications: agriculture and aquaculture, metal cleaning, and wastewater treatment. For example, nanobubbles can be used to clean and sterilize vegetables and fresh food, as well as crops in the field or greenhouse. As Nakashima explains, more than 500 businesses around Japan are using NAC's Foamest nanobubble generators. In collaboration with hospitals in Aichi Prefecture, the nanobubbles are being tested as a means of treating cavities without having to inject into the nerve, thanks to the bubbles' ability to permeate into the tooth's cells.

A Close Look at the Future

Like its method for nanobubble generation, the company also has a unique way of managing its intellectual property and its business structure. Nakashima explains the company consists of three divisions: one that handles manufacturing, another for sales, and one that owns and manages the corporation's patents – about 20 to 30 in total, including patents in the US, China, and South Korea. The firm's IP plays an important role in its business plan, and it is a source of pride for Nakashima. “We will always to preserve our duty of film manufacturing.”

In the immediate future, Nakashima sees great potential in the markets of food and agriculture in Japan. Farther down the line, Nakashima wants to “obtain more patents by listening to customers’ needs; by conducting research to fulfill those applications, we can progress towards new discoveries.” He is also interested in collaborating with companies that are operating in IT, electronics, and other technology spaces. They would also be interested in partnering with overseas firms for similar collaborations, but as Nakashima points out, he wants to keep this growth organic, and adhering to the company’s standards: “Our pride is to think, create, and sell – although we are a small company, we are managing all three parts, and this is our strength.”

Based on interview in February 2016

Nanobubbles illuminated by green laser light, courtesy of NAC Corporation