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Award Ceremony Highlights

Honda Prize report

* Information concerning affiliation/post/profile of the laureate and guests is current at the time he/she received the prize.

Award Ceremony Highlights: Honda Prize 2016

November 17, 2016, Imperial Hotel Tokyo

(from left to right)
Mr. Ishida / President of Honda Foundation, Dr.Isogai, Dr. Yano, Mr. Tsutomu Honda / Adivisor of Honda Foundation
The 37th Honda Prize ceremony was held on Monday, November 17, at the Imperial Hotel Tokyo, with 230 participants and guests from officers of foreign Embassies in Japan, policy makers, scholars, researchers and media people.
This year’s laureate was Dr. Akira Isogai, Professor of the Graduate School of Agricultural and Life Sciences at The University of Tokyo, and Dr. Hiroyuki Yano, Professor of the Research Institute for Sustainable Humanosphere at Kyoto University for their outstanding contributions to the development of high-efficiency production methods of Cellulose Nanofiber (CNF), its application to products,
and the enhancement of its potential for further utilization.

Movie of The Laureate

Commemorative Speech by the laureates:


“Development of Production Technology of Cellulose Nanofibers and Their Characteristics and Function” 
Dr. Akira Isogai

Entering faculty of Agriculture at The University of Tokyo, I had studied chemical reactions of cellulose. One day, group in the Netherlands reported catalytic reactions of polysaccharides, which proceed under aqueous conditions. We applied this reaction to various celluloses, and found that water-insoluble rayon fibers become water-soluble as a result of the reaction. Then we developed a method to prepare new cellulose nanofibers. Namely, native cellulose fibers with micron-size widths can be efficiently and completely converted into individual and crystalline cellulose nanofibers with homogeneous 3nm widths in high yields using the catalytic reaction followed by gentle mechanical treatment of the reacted fibers in water. This new cellulose nanofiber has specific structures and characteristics that are applicable as advanced bio-nanomaterials for light-weight and high-strength composites, gas barrier films, electronic board materials and so on. Though there are some challenges for the practical application of nanocellulose, the utilization of an abundant amount of unutilized wood and agricultural biomass resources in Japan would revitalize the forest industry. Moreover, it would bring about creation of a sustainable and recyclable society, without depending on fossil resources alone, construction of new culture and industries fused from various fields, and the establishment of new materials stream as cellulose nanofiber from forest to advanced industry. We also look forward to the prevention of global warming by immobilizing and reducing carbon dioxide in the atmosphere


“Development in Bio-based Materials Inspired by Nano-to Micro-structures in Plants”
Dr. Hiroyuki Yano

I was born in Nagano Prefecture with full of beautiful mountains and clean bodies of water. About 20 years ago, I started development of new material based on CNF with its weight 1/5 that of steel while its strength is at least 5 times stronger. We have been engaged in reinforcement of structural plastics from 12 years ago, then as a result of trial and errors, integrating two processes, (1) the production of cellulose nanofiber and (2) the production of composite of cellulose nanofiber and resin, into a single process realized a considerable reduction in time and cost. Later, we named this method the “Pulp Direct-Kneading Method (Kyoto Process),” Now my dream is to see an eco-friendly car that uses a lot of CNF, being lighter in weight, higher in fuel economy, being driven in the city at the upcoming 2020 Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics. I also established the Nanocellulose Forum with the support of the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry. Collaborated among industry-government-academia research, it is expected that Japan’s unique industrial form will thus be developed.
In conclusion, a sustainable society through the utilization of plant biomass is absolutely necessary for the earth under a crisis situation today. Nothing would be a greater pleasure to me than seeing an affluent society dependent on sustainable plant resources and finding such a wood-oriented civilization started from our research on cellulose nanofiber when we turn back the pages of history 100 years from now.

Commemorative lecture PDF



Congratulatory Addresses by Guests of Honor

His Excellency Mr. Jason P. Hyland
Chargé d' Affaires a.i. of the Embassy of the United States of America

Dr. Takeyoshi Dohi
Professor, Tokyo Denki University, Professor Emeritus, The University of Tokyo

Mr. Takahiro Hachigo
President, CEO and Representative Director, Honda Motor Co., Ltd.

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