wenty Years in Development Captivated
by Catalyst Research
Soon after joining the company Hoshino was assigned to the research and development team for fuel-cell vehicles, which at that time had just started up. The following year Nissan launched the R’nessa, a reformed methanol fuel-cell vehicle, and she got a taste of the sense of achievement that comes with the public release of research results. Hoshino has since been involved for many years in catalyst development for fuel-cell and gasoline engine vehicles, including the development of catalysts that produce hydrogen from gasoline or bioethanol as demanded by the times. Befitting a researcher who has followed a course of research focused solely on catalysts, her fascination continues.
“I’m still not tired of it,” she says. “Catalysts promote chemical reactions that adsorb or bind certain molecules. But even when we repeat the same experiment, we may not obtain the same reaction because of trivial things like trace impurities in the catalyst or experimental conditions. People who work with mechanical systems have a hard time understanding my fascination with things that cannot be expressed mathematically, but those times when results differ from predictions or hypotheses are actually opportunities. There is serendipity in that chance events can become triggers for major discoveries or later developments. I guess you could say I’m obsessed with catalysts because this kind of unpredictability is so interesting.”