Tuesday, August 31, 2010
Mitsui Mining And Smelting will address the system to extract rare earthes from nickel hydride battery mounted on the hybrid car. Mixture of rare earthes is said to account for about 30% of the positive-electrode material, and the company plans to collect the mixture and start a new facility in 2014 at the earliest. There is growing concern about China’s export restriction of rare earthes, and it has become an urgent task for Japan to diversity the source of supply. What Mitsui plans to extract is misch metal, mixture of rare earthes, which is made up of lanthanum and neodymium. After crushing nickel hydride battery to pieces, the system extracts misch metal with other materials including nickel after separating impurities with the help of nonferrous smelting technology. The company already established the technology to extract more than 98% of misch metal. Nickel and cobalt collected from the positive-electrode material will be recycled as the material for battery.
Monday, August 30, 2010
NEC developed a simplified system for retailers to analyze shoppers’ interest. Using mobile phones and inexpensive sensors, it can tell the popularity of a specific sales floor and the response of shoppers to new products. It has four units of integrated equipment made up of motion sensors and radio transmitters installed on the ceiling for every 100-200 square meters to count the number of visitors. Information obtained from the acceleration sensor incorporated in the mobile phone that each customer carries is used to analyze his motion. Analyzing where he stops and walks, the system tell what products interest him. The system was tested in a department store in Tokyo for three months, and the test proved that its allows for the precise measurement. The system costs about one third of the existing expensive system. The company plans to put it into practical use in two years.
Sunday, August 29, 2010
NTT Communications will launch a service late coming October that allows company employees to report disaster damage using mobile phone and smart phone when their outlets and plants are visited by a disaster. When a disaster occurs, the contact person of a company rushes to the damaged site and reports damage in writing or by photo using mobile phone to the administrator. And the administrator consolidates information on the damage and restoration state of all outlets and plants using mobile phone and PC. A company does not need to install a special system for this service because it uses cloud computing. Equipped with the bulletin board function, it allows the contact persons to share information. The service can also be used for convening an in-house meeting and conducting a questionnaire survey. The initial cost is set at 210,000 yen, and monthly usage fee is set at 48,300 yen for 1,000 employees.
Saturday, August 28, 2010
Mitsubishi Chemical will produce plant-derived bioresin in Thailand in alliance with Thai National Oil (PTT). The company will build a special plant in 2013 in Thailand where raw materials are in stable supply and export plant-derived bioresins to Japan and western countries where they enjoy growing demand for materials of plates and utensils as well as for packing materials. With an investment of about five billion yen, the two companies will build a plant to produce biodegradable resin that replaces general-purpose polyethylene resin. They are scheduled to reach an agreement on details including investment ratio within the year and set up a joint venture company toward next spring. The annual production is scheduled at 20,000 tons. Because the plant-derived resin does not increase carbon dioxide emissions, utilizing plant-derived resin is growing popular in advanced countries as the material of parts and components of cars and home electronic appliances.
Related web page: http://www.newsclip.be/news/2009928_025307.html
Related web page: http://www.newsclip.be/news/2009928_025307.html
Friday, August 27, 2010
Toshiba will commercialize a home TV that allows the viewer to enjoy 3D image without special glasses. The company will put the product on the market within the year if all goes smoothly. At the same time, it will also launch a liquid crystal TV that needs special glasses in the year-end shopping season to satisfy demands from various customers and activate the 3D TV market. Toshiba successfully developed a new 21-inch liquid crystal panel that allows the viewer to enjoy 3D image in alliance with its subsidiary, and apply this newly-developed panel to home TV. The new liquid crystal panel employed the Toshiba’s original technology of integral imaging. It displays image in accordance with the angle on the sheet that aligns semicircular special lenses to allow for stereoscopical view with the necked eyes. Neither price nor specifications are set at present.
Related web page: http://www.toshiba.co.jp/rdc/rd/detail_j/1005_01.htm
Related web page: http://www.toshiba.co.jp/rdc/rd/detail_j/1005_01.htm
Thursday, August 26, 2010
NEC, one of Japan’s electronics giants, developed bioresin that does not contain food materials. More than 70% of the newly-developed resin is the material made from rice straw and cashew nut husk. The company successfully developed the new resin by synthesizing chemically cellulose made of plant haulm like rice straw and oily material extracted from cashew nut, and secured enough strength, heat resistance, and water resistance to be used for PCs. A bioresin usually needs petroleum components to increase strength, but the new bioresin reduced the ratio of petroleum components to less than 30%. And it is totally free from food materials. Actually, it is the first bioresin of this kind. The existing bioresin uses corn-derived materials. This bioresin can enjoy stable supply of raw materials because more than two billion tons of materials for cellulose and more than one million tons of cashew nut husks are disposed annually. The company is working on mass production technology to use this resin for its PCs toward 2013.
Related web page
Related web page
Wednesday, August 25, 2010
Tokyo University, Pioneer, and Toshiba successfully developed the next-generation chip that reduces LSI’s power consumption to one ten thousandth of the current level. The new technology trades data by light instead of electrons because light has less power attenuation. They built the key component that processes optical data moving inside the element at high speed on trial. An LSI that processes data only by light can be built by combining the newly-developed amplifying element with wiring. Because light has extremely smaller resistance than an electron when it runs in wiring, it can reduce energy loss considerably. This is the achievement of a project conducted by NEDO. The project succeeded in the experiment to create special light called near-field light inside the element by irradiating the element with light that flashes 80 million times per second and gate the light’s passage in accordance with the flash of the light. The technology is scheduled to be put into practical use around 2020.
Related web page: http://www.nedo.go.jp/english/index.html
Related web page: http://www.nedo.go.jp/english/index.html
Tuesday, August 24, 2010
No. 142: Environment-conscious method using seaweed extracts to purify turbid water (August 24, 2010)
Toyo Construction, a medium-sized construction company in Tokyo, completed the green technology to purify turbid water using natural substances extracted from seaweeds and started to offer the technology to civil engineering works of auto parts manufacturers. The company developed an alginate additive for turbid water treatment as the auxiliary agglomeration agent in alliance with a food-processing company and successfully paved the way for mass production. It wishes to expand the scope of the application and cover public projects like ports and harbors development as an environment-conscious construction method to replace the existing method that uses chemical polymer auxiliary agglomeration agents. The auxiliary agglomeration agent developed by this company is mainly made up of algin acid and calcium chloride. The company recycles waste parts of cultured seaweeds to extract the auxiliary agent. Related web page: http://www.toyo-const.co.jp/index.html
Sunday, August 22, 2010
A research team led by Masahiro Nakagawa, a professor of Nagaoka University of Technology in Niigata Prefecture, developed the technology to measure such human sensitivity as delight and anger with the help of light, and control a robot based on the measured human sensitivity. The research team already developed the technology to measure human sensitivity using human brain wave to control a robot, but the newly-developed technology is characteristically less affected by electrical noise. For the measurement of sensitivity, the technology uses optical topography equipment that examines brain’s activity condition by dint of far-red light. It examines the concentration of oxygenated hemoglobin and reduced hemoglobin in the blood when human is in delight or in anger. Based on the concentration, it reads the patterns of sensitivity and digitalizes them. It takes only about one minute to obtain data for a pattern of sensitivity. The robot is given instructions beforehand depending on the sensitivity, such as “Raise a hand in the case of delight” and “Put a hand on the hip in the case of the anger.” Related web page: http://pelican.nagaokaut.ac.jp/
Saturday, August 21, 2010
Sanyo Electric decided to put off the launch of its bread machine, GOPAN, that makes bread from rice by month to November 11 because it received an unexpectedly large number of orders from volume retailers of home electronics. The company expected to receive 5,000 units as the advance order, but advanced orders rushed into the company immediately after the product announcement in last July, and it has already secured an advance order for nearly 10,000 units that exceeds the production capacity of its subcontractor in China. This bread machine makes bread from rice grains not from ground rice that is expensive and unavailable in significant amount. It is the first bread machine of this kind in the world. It invited great attention from people with wheat allergy. The retail price is about 50,000 yen. GOPAN a compound word, and it means rice and bread. Go is Gohan that means rice, while Pan means bread in English. Related web page: http://jp.sanyo.com/gopan/
Friday, August 20, 2010
A research team led by Toshio Koike, a Tokyo University professor, developed the system to manage a dam adequately by dint of flood forecast that combines a model to predict the water condition on land and precipitation data. This new system makes it possible to discharge water before cataract and collect water during cataract. Flexible management of a dam in cataract is expected to reduce damage by a flood. The team is running simulations in a dam on the upper reaches of Tone River in alliance with the government agency. It will be put into practical use in 2012 at the earliest. The system forecasts precipitation 12 hours later using the difference between prediction data and observation data of precipitation. It employs the numerical estimate data released by the Meteorological Agency as prediction data and the real-time data released by the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism as observation data. The precipitation prediction model was combined with the model to predict the water condition on land developed by the professor.
Mitsubishi Estate, one of Japan’s leading real estate companies, decided to install a photovoltaic system in all medium- and large-sized condos it builds. It plans to install a system in a total of 100 condos in 2011. Generated electricity will be used for such common space as parking lots and hallways to reduce the condo’s management cost. The company will collaborate with the electricity supply company in Osaka to install photovoltaic generation panels, each of which has a generation capacity of 5 kW, and electric substation equipment. It costs several million yen to install the system, but the management cost can be reduced by 10%. The company expects that the environment-conscious image and reduced management cost will increase the value of its condos. It plans to apply to the certification agency for the “Green Power Certificate.” The certification will enable it to get an emissions quota in the regulation of total greenhouse gas emissions Tokyo introduced in April this year.
Wednesday, August 18, 2010
Sharp, a Japan’s electronic giant, will shortly launch its newly-developed 60-inch liquid crystal display that can be used as a blackboard and allows the user to write on it with a pen. Employing the self-developed touch panel with improved input precision, it allows for smoother input by handwriting. Because it has the function to work together with a digital complex machine, the user can display scanned image on the screen and write directly on the image on the screen, and print the image on the screen by a printer. It is excellent in terms of energy saving because LEDs are used for the back light. In anticipation of the growing popularity of IT devices in educational scenes and company meetings, the company plans to market the new crystal display to educational institutions and companies. Although subject to open pricing, the display with software for handwriting input is scheduled to be around one million yen. A PC is required to use the software.
Tuesday, August 17, 2010
A medium-sized company in Chiba Prefecture developed a small-sized waste disposal unit that carbonates food residues and plastic refuses. The carbonization unit is widespread among big plants, but a small-sized unit like this that has a processing capacity of 35 kg is rarely found. It can help to reduce waste processing cost because operating cost is lower than the prevailing waste disposal cost. It can process 35 kg residues and refuses in one processing in four hours. It pyrolyzes waste in an oxygen-free environment and produces charcoal and harmless heated air. No dioxine is generated thanks to the processing in an oxygen-free environment. It can also dispose of paper diapers, but products made of metal and glass cannot be processed. It can process garbage in block, and prior sorting is not necessary. The unit is priced at 3.2 million yen. The company plans to market the unit to companies subject to the Food Recycling Law by emphasizing its ability to reduce waste processing cost.
Monday, August 16, 2010
Taisei, one of Japan’s leading general contractors, developed the technology to create a forest in the suburb and transplant it in the redevelopment area in the inner-city district. The company grows a forest for three years in advance and supplies trees and soil together when the redevelopment building is completed. The new afforestation technology makes it possible to enroot 12-meter high trees in the 80-cm deep soil of the artificial ground. It wishes to get orders for the redevelopment of inner-city districts by appealing the effect of urban greening. As the initial order, it will build a 38-story high-rise building in Tokyo and transplant a forest in the vicinity of the building. It will start to create a 1,300-square-meter forest this summer and take more than three years to make the forest ready. The high-rise building is scheduled to be completed in the spring of 2014.
Sunday, August 15, 2010
Mitsui Mining And Smelting developed the technology to reduce carbon dioxide emissions in steel plants using rare earthes. The technology changes carbon dioxide to carbon monoxide in a chemical reaction and expected to reduce carbon dioxide generation by 8%. It utilizes cerium to make the best use of its characteristic to react easily to oxygen. It blows carbon dioxide generated inside the blast furnace to cerium to change it to carbon monoxide. Cerium is reusable and collected monoxide can be sold to resin manufacturers. The company successfully changed 97% of carbon dioxide to carbon monoxide in a small-size experiment and plans to build a small-size demonstration plant with an investment of several tens of million yen next year. Theoretically 22 tons of cerium is required to process 8% of annual carbon dioxide emissions from steel plants in Japan. Cerium is priced between 600,000 and 700,000 yen per ton. It is one of the low cost rare earthes and easily procurable.
A research team led by a professor of Tohoku University in Japan developed the technology to produce biofuel from sea algae effectively. Lots of efforts are being made worldwide to develop biofuel from resources other than foods to prevent food prices from going up rapidly. Utilization of resources abundant in the seacoast including sea alga invites attention as a method to solve global warming without affecting the food issues. In addition, sea algae are troublesome for power plants because they creep in the intake of coolant water. Power plants currently bear expense to dispose of them. Therefore, utilizing sea algae as fuel is like aiming to kill two birds with one stone. The research tem cut sea algae and dissolve them by mixing them with enzymes, and fermented them after adding self-developed yeast. It left the resulting product for two weeks and successfully got 200 ml ethanol from one kilogram sea algae.
Friday, August 13, 2010
A subsidiary of Seiko Instruments developed a device to detect the concentration of cadmium contained in rice in a few minutes. The device measures the concentration of microelements by irradiating a sample with X-ray. The company improved the X-ray fluorescence spectrometer that examines chemical agents in an electronic device for the examination of food contents. The detection sensitivity increased considerably, and the lowest detection concentration is set at 0.1 ppm. The device measures the concentration of coated rice or polished rice put in the container in about two minutes on average. The method realized by this device is more cost effective and less time consuming than the method using plasma that needs pretreatment of the sample for examination. The device will be put on the market for 10 million yen coming fall. In Japan, Food Standards Law will be revised in February next year. With the revision, the maximum cadmium concentration of marketable rice will be decreased from the current 1.0 ppm to 0.4 ppm.
Thursday, August 12, 2010
Fuji Electric and Furukawa Electric jointly developed the new-generation power semiconductor. Made of gallium nitride, it is featured by small power loss one tenth of the power loss of the existing semiconductor made of silicone. Because it controls current sensitively, it can reduce energy consumed by electric vehicles and electronic devices. The two companies will start to evaluate the performance and reliability of this new product. Sample shipment will start in 2011. Fuji Electric has been working with National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology to develop a semiconductor made of silicon carbide, and started sample shipment this summer. Because silicon carbide-based semiconductor is more expensive than gallium nitride-based semiconductor, it is for electric trains and high-voltage equipment. Power semiconductors useful to reduce energy consumption are in great demand worldwide. Fuji Electric plans to put these two kinds of semiconductor into practical use as soon as possible.
Wednesday, August 11, 2010
A research team under the initiative of two university professors in Tokyo developed a system that multiple small robots collaborate to help making a simple dish. Named Cookie, the system interfaces with an induction heating cooking device. Small robots add foodstuffs and mix the bowl in accordance with predetermined procedure. The user only needs to make preparations and give instructions. The system is made up of an interface that allows the user to change the cooking procedure and timing easily as he wishes depending on his needs, visual markers to mark the spots, a web camera, an induction heating cooking device, special plates, and a PC. The user needs to select the dish he wishes to cook among registered dishes. After putting the foodstuffs on the designated special plates, he needs to put the visual marker that responds to each foodstuff to each special plate. The research team plans to expand the application to cover more complicated dishes and even household chores.
Tuesday, August 10, 2010
A subsidiary of East Japan Railway Company installed a new-type vending machine that responds to the days of digital signage. A 47-inch touch panel put on the vending machine airs promotional pictures suitable for the season and time zone. Equipped with the high-performance wireless communication function named WiMAX, the vending machine receives and displays videos to stimulate consumer appetite, such as “Ice-cold drink for a hot day” and “Coffee for a refreshing morning.” A consumer gets the screen showing all available products when he stands before the vending machine, and he can buy a product by touching the picture of the product he prefers. He can settle the payment in cash or by e-money. The company plans to air advertising pictures in the near future. It developed this machine in alliance with Omron Corp. and a subsidiary of Fuji Electric. The company plans to install 500 vending machines of this kind inside stations in the Tokyo metropolitan area in two years.
Monday, August 9, 2010
JGC Corp., one of Japan’s leading engineering companies, will enter the market of the generation plant that merges solar power generation with thermal power generation in alliance with a venture company in the U.S., a mirror manufacturer in Germany, and a structural design company in Germany. The four companies reached an agreement and signed a memorandum to build a consortium. The new-type plant combines solar heat with surplus heat of thermal power generation and accumulates the steam created by thermal power and solar heat to run turbines. It is more stable in generation than a photovoltaic generation plant greatly affected by weather, and the construction cost is between one third and half of the construction cost that a photovoltaic generation plant needs. The generation capacity is projected between 100-2,000 megawatts and the construction cost is estimated between 17 and 340 billion yen. The world market of solar power generation including related equipment is expected to reach nearly 1,000 billion yen in 2015.
Sunday, August 8, 2010
Euglena enjoys growing demand recently in Japan, though it is a microorganism unfamiliar to people in general. A venture company that researches and markets euglenas was founded under the leadership of Tokyo university students. This company named Euglena developed the technology of mass culture for euglena in 2005. Euglena snack that the company launched last November sparked a boom. It is priced at 450 yen per box, and more than 26,000 boxes were sold. It contains more than 200 million euglenas apiece. Because euglenas contain such nutritional elements as vitamin and mineral, many companies started to use euglenas as a raw material of nutritional foods and cosmetics. The market of euglena-related products is estimated to reach 5 billion yen this year. Euglenas seem very promising as a raw material of biofuel for aircraft because the culture process of euglenas gets in lots of carbon dioxide.
The spread of LED bulbs is accelerating in Japan. LED bulbs accounted for 19.7% of all sales of bulbs in July and expected to reach 20% in August this year. The share of LED bulbs exceeded 10% for the first time in March. That is, the share will double in six months. The biggest factor of this rapid spread is the decreasing prices and expanding lineups. The average price is now less than 3,000 yen, lower than 80% of the price early this year. LED bulbs accounted as much as for 64.2% in value in July. Incandescent bulbs decreased the share 10.2% to 56.6% in July on a year-on-year basis. Panasonic introduced an LED bulb that can be installed aslant on the ceiling. Sharp released an LED bulb about 85 grams apiece, about half the weight of the existing model to be use for chandeliers. Medium-sized producers are also increasing the presence in the market. They put LED bulbs for 2,300-2,500 yen apiece, and some of them sell them for less than 2,000 yen apiece.
Friday, August 6, 2010
Zeon Corp. developed a new phase difference film that gives the viewer clear image on the 3D TV screen even though he lies down. The newly-developed film transmits the passing light spirally instead of transmitting it straight. This technology makes it possible for the viewer to receive an image for the left eye and an image for the right eye simultaneously even if both eyes are not horizontal, thus he can recognize the two images as a 3D image. The company developed this new difference film by arranging the molecular structures of a film obliquely using its self-developed technology instead of arranging them vertically and horizontally. The new film will be used for the low-profile panel inside the 3D TV. Zeon will invest about five billion yen to build a new production line with an annual capacity of 10 million squire meters to start mass production in the fall of 2011. Zeon is the world’s third largest producer of phase difference films. Demand for 3D TV is estimated to increase about 13 times as big as the demand in 2010 to 43 million units worldwide in 2014.
Hitachi got an order for denitrification equipment that purifies exhaust gases from the thermal power station from Poland in alliance with a local construction company. Hitachi will take charge of designing, manufacturing, and trail run of the equipment for about half of the total order volume of 4 billion yen. The equipment will be installed in the medium-sized coal-fired cogeneration station near Warsaw. The equipment is to eliminate oxides of nitrogen in exhaust gases. It is the first equipment of this kind to be installed in Poland. Shipment will start in 2012. Mitsubishi Heavy got an order for the design of carbon dioxide capture and storage (CCS) equipment that seals off carbon dioxide underground from the British local company of E.ON AG of Germany. The projected recovered amount of carbon dioxide is world’s largest 6,600 tons per day, and recovered carbon dioxide will be stored in the waste gas field in the North Sea. Mitsubishi Heavy is now building a demonstration plant of this kind with a recovery capacity of 500 tons per day in the U.S.
Wednesday, August 4, 2010
Japanese mobile phone makers had only 3.5% share in the world market despite the striking performance accompanied by highly sophisticated software programs. The world market in 2009 was about 1,155 million units, and Nokia was the runaway leader with 37.4% share. Two Korean makers, Samsung and LG Electronics, are second and third largest players, and they have a combined share of about 30%. Japanese domestic shipments accounted for 20% of the world shipments in the late 1990s, but it is a thing of the past. Actually, the Japanese domestic market is shrinking. Domestic shipments decreased 30% from the previous year to about 36 million units in 2008 and again decreased to about 31.5 million units in 2009. Realizing how serious the situation is, Japanese makers are exerting more energy to expand the foreign markets. Lots of difficult problems seem to lie before them because it is not an easy job to persuade excellent developers taking pride in developing stunning products to design less sophisticated and lower priced products.
Tuesday, August 3, 2010
Mitsubishi Electric will introduce a heat storage system in the substantiative experiment of smart grid scheduled to start within the year. It is the system that stores the energy generated by photovoltaic generation and solar power generation in the natural refrigerant water heater (EcoCute). It is designed to increase energy efficiency by combining power storage and heat storage as a new solution for the smart grid for household. Effective utilization of heat is vital to the smart grid for household because about 60% of power demand is for air-conditioning and hot-water supply in household. The company plans to employ a hybrid system for generation that combines photovoltaic generation and solar power generation, and use heat storage equipment and a storage battery for electricity. The point is how much heat stored during daylight can reduce midnight power. The data and information will be shared with Tokyo Electric Power.
Monday, August 2, 2010
NEC got an order from Hanoi to computerize the system for uniform management of resident registration vital for taxation and social security for 260 million yen. The company will operate the system for resident information and thumbprint recognition in the initial stage, and plans to computerize the data of 6.5 million people in Hanoi in three years. The system is designed to decrease the load of various jobs, such as data search and statistics management, to streamline the administrative affairs. Hanoi is followed by other major cities in Vietnam including Hi-phong and Ho Chin Minh. NEC plans to expand the system nationwide using the cloud computing and cover 86 million people in the future.
Sunday, August 1, 2010
Horiba, Ltd., one of Japan’s leading accurate measuring instrument makers, has developed a small portable instrument to detect accurately heavy-metal pollution of soil in five minutes in collaboration with a professor of Keio University. This portable instrument eliminates the necessity to send a sample to a laboratory. Using a high sensitive diamond electrode, it can measure the concentration of heavy metals, such as copper, cadmium, and zinc. The trial model can measure a concentration of several ppms in five minutes. A concentration that is one thousandth of ppm can be detected should the sample be condensed. The new technology can be applied to examine pollution of foods and effluent of semiconductor plants. Sample shipment will start within the year. Weighing about 15 kg, it is as small as a coffee machine. The price is scheduled to be less than 3 million yen, less than one twentieth of the price of the existing instruments of this kind.
No. 119: Effective utilization of waste heat from the production of electric materials (August 1, 2010)
TDK Corp., one of Japan’s leading producers of electric materials, will intensify its efforts for effective utilization of waste heat from the production of electric materials including ferrite. It will select two model plants to develop the technology to collect heat emitted from the heating furnace. Molded oxidized iron is burnt and hardened at higher than 1,000 degrees centigrade in the heating furnace to produce ferrite. More than half of the total energy used in the production is consumed in the heat treatment, and the waste heat is currently discharged. The energy efficiency estimated at 10%, and the company wishes to increase it to higher than 30% toward 2020. Ferrite is used in mobile phones and voltage conversion parts specially designed for hybrid cars, and it is necessary to work out measures for growing demand for ferrite and decreasing carbon dioxide emissions. The company plans to decrease carbon dioxide emissions by more than 20% toward 2015 as compared with that of 2005.