Tuesday, May 31, 2011

No. 283: New technology for a large-scale organic EL panel (May 31, 2011)

Tokyo University Professor Tadatomo Suga developed the technology applicable to the production of organic EL panels. It reduces the cost to glue two glass sheets together, and it is applicable to the production of larger EL panels. The development was led by the professor and participated by Taiyo Yuden, Lantechnical Service, and Bondtech. Organic materials need to be put between two glass sheets and the verge needed to be sealed to build an EL panel. However, as the display grows larger in size, glass sheets skew to make it hard to seal them. This makes it hard to mass produce organic EL panels. The new technology can seal them at a lower cost. To be specific, the ceramic surface of a glass sheet is made flat with the aid of argon ion to glue two glass sheets tight without any space between them at room temperature. The research team expects to put the technology into practical use in three years. Organic EL is higher in performance than liquid crystal in displaying videos, and smart phones will employ organic EL soon. The new technology is expected to promote the application to large TV screens. The research results are scheduled to be presented in the coming Electronic Components and Technology Conference to be held in the U.S. starting on May 31, 2011.

Friday, May 27, 2011

No. 282: Applying car production technology to the medical field (May 27, 2011)

Toyota Motor and Tokyo University collaborate to apply Toyota’s computer-aided simulation technology for auto body designing and production processing to the prediction system of subarachnoid bleeding. Because auto technology has rarely been applied to the medical field, this collaboration invites attention as an approach across two different industrial frameworks. Toyota simulates the running condition of a car and the safety in collision using computers, and Tokyo University’s Institute of Industrial Science uses Toyota’s technology to simulate the condition of blood vessels and the flow of blood of the brain, and looks into possible rupture of a cerebral aneurysm. Currently, it takes about 70 days to analyze the condition of a cerebral aneurysm, but Toyota’s technology of image processing and batch data processing is expected to shorten the time to several hours. About 2% of Japanese are supposed to have a cerebral aneurysm, and one third of them die should it be ruptured. Applying the technology of auto production is expected to increase the speed and accuracy of the analysis and increase the accuracy of decision making on the necessity of operation. In the future, the application will expand to other categories in the medical field.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

No. 281: Newly developed powder for efficient purification of polluted water (May 26, 2011)

A research team led by Kanazawa University Professor Tomihisa Ohta developed powder that purifies polluted water containing radioactive materials. The newly developed powder is the result in the research stage, but it has the ability to process 1,000 tons of polluted water per hour should it be put into practical use. It has 20 times more processing capacity than the powder from Areva of France adopted by the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant. The research team developed this powder by improving the depurative for contaminated soil. It is a combination of several chemical substances with the action to agglutinate zeolite and metals. It deposits by taking in radioactive substances in the sea efficiently. It was developed in collaboration with Kumaken Kogyo in Akita Prefecture. In the experiment that uses water in which nonradioactive iodine, cesium, strontium are dissolved at a concentration of 1-10 ppm, the powder succeeded in clear them away to nearly 100%. The research team is confident that the powder exhibits the same processing function for radioactive substances as for nonradioactive substances. The professor has already designed the large-scale processing system, and he plans to propose the new powder with the system to the Japanese government and Tokyo Electric Power.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

No. 280: Electric train? No, it is a battery train (May 25, 2011)

West Japan Railway Company started the plan to run a battery train operated only by lithium-ion batteries by 2020. The battery train charges the batteries from the feeding facilities near the station through the overhead wire when it makes a stop at the station. It has the regenerative braking system that allows the train to accelerate using the energy stored in the batteries and collect the generated energy from the motor when it decelerates. It can reduce carbon dioxide emissions and noises. In fact, it can conserve energy 10% more than the railway motor car using a diesel engine. The company will try batteries from several producers and make the battery train applicable toward 2020. It is estimated to cost more than 30 million yen to build a battery train, but mass production is expected to reduce the cost to one seventh. It is rather hard for a railway company to reduce fixed cost because train service needs lots of various types of equipment, but battery trains can contribute to the reduction of fixed cost through decreased oil consumption and lighter train body. In addition, it can eliminate overhead wires and electrification facilities on the ground. Railway Technical Research Institute has already worked on developing a battery streetcar, and East Japan Railway Company is running hybrid trains that carry both batteries and a diesel engine.

Friday, May 20, 2011

No. 279: New display panel film for 3D TV (May 21, 2011)

New film used for the display panel of a 3D TV has been developed by Toppan Printing and Arisawa Mfg. The 3D TV gives a three dimensional image by discharging different images from either side of the screen. Toppan is a leading printing company, and Arisawa Mfg. produces panel glass materials to give the 3D function to a TV. Toppan processed the material developed by Arisawa using Toppan’s processing technology and developed film more elastic than glass. The film is cheaper than glass with higher production efficiency. The new company to be founded jointly by the two companies on June 1 will ship samples for 23-inch TVs by coming September. Full-scale production is scheduled for 2012 at a new plant. It plans to develop film for 55-inch TVs in the future. A U.S. survey company predicts that 3D TV shipments will grow 25 times from 2010 to the level of 100 units in 2014 worldwide. The panel using the new film meets the requirements of the 3D TV that requires simple special glasses for viewing. This type of 3D TV will be more acceptable to households because it is lower in price than the type that asks viewers to wear special glasses that need power. The new company plans to develop the market for PCs and monitors for industrial use in the future.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

No. 278: New method to discern a cancer stem cell (May 18, 2011)

Nobuyuki Takakura, a professor of Research Institute for Microbial Diseases of Osaka University, developed the method to discern a cancer stem cell closely related to the growth and spread of cancer. The method will be helpful to the selection of candidates of new drugs effective for the permanent cure of cancer. He will collaborate with GeneStem, a university-launched venture company, that was founded in Osaka this past January and pharmaceutical companies to develop new drugs. Professor Takakura examined the stem cell of a fetus that grows as actively as a cancer stem cell and focused on the gene “PSF1” that a stem cell of a fetus and a cancer stem cell have in common. He looked into the cells of colon cancer and esophagus cancer, and found that PSF1 is intensively active in the margin of multiplying cancer where neoangiogenesis is active. Experiments using mice implanted by cancer verified the fast cancer growth and metastases and high malignancy when the PSF1 is frequently activated. Judging from the gene expression, the PSF1 is thought to be activated in the cancer stem cell. Using the work of the PSF1 as an earmark will facilitate the development of drugs effective for a cancer stem cell.

Monday, May 16, 2011

No. 277: New materials for large liquid crystal TVs (May 16, 2011)

A professor of Keio University, Yasuhiro Koichi, developed new materials that realize high quality pictures inexpensively for large liquid crystal TVs. They are a backlight with 50% smaller power consumption, inexpensive protective film for deflecting plate, and scattering film without color heterogeneity. Each of them is made of acrylic transparent resin. The backlight that contains fine particles of several micrometers in diameter can transmit parallel light, and the protective film is characterized by a new mixture ratio of multiple raw materials of resin. The scattering film contains particles of a different character from those contained in the backlight. These materials help a liquid crystal display to have better price competitiveness over the existing models in which expensive phase films are incorporated. The professor suggests the possibility that the production process of liquid crystals changes basically. In fact, the production cost will be halved if the mass production technology is established. The professor will present the research results on May 17 in the Society for Information Display scheduled from 15th and 17th of May in Los Angeles in the U.S.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

No. 276: Hitachi’s cancer treatment system goes to the U.S. (May 11, 2011)

Hitachi got an order for its proton cancer treatment system from Mayo Clinic that is one of the leading clinics in the U.S. The order that covers the system and its operation and maintenance for a period of 10 years is about 20 billion yen. Proton cancer treatment is one of the cancer treatment systems using nuclear radiation. It destroys cancer cells alone by irradiating special beams to the tumor site outside the body. It can focus the radiation dose on the affected site more easily than X-ray to curtail the damage on normal cells. Hitachi will ship two systems. One is for Minnesota State and the other is for Arizona State. The system consists of one accelerator and five treatment rooms. IBA of Belgium is the market leader of the proton cancer treatment equipment, and Hitachi is strong in the technology to irradiate proton rather accurately responding to the shape of a tumor. Hitachi will start the construction work within the year and finish the delivery between the summer of 2015 and the spring of 2016. Mayo Clinic operates more than 70 hospitals and clinics across the U.S. Hitachi has delivered the system using the similar technology to MD Anderson Cancer Center in Texas State. With the big order from Mayo Clinic as a trigger, Hitachi wishes to increase the annual sales of its healthcare division that are currently 300 billion yen.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

No. 275: Growing business of storage tanks for ocean LNG plants (May 9, 2011)

In the aftermath of the accident of the nuclear power plant, demand for LNG storage tanks is expected to grow rapidly. IHI and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries will bolster up the production capacity of large LNG storage tanks to be used on the sea. IHI will build dedicated production equipment with an investment of about five billion yen to produce an aluminum tank with a capacity of 200,000 cubic meters per month. Special treatment will be given to the inside of the tank to prevent LNG from vaporizing in welter. Shale gas attracts a worldwide attention, and demand for offshore LNG development is expected to grow to activate demand for LNG storage tanks on the sea. Because a storage tank on the sea does not need a pipeline between the tank and the liquefaction facilities, it is possible to build a plant far away from the facilities on the land. Investment for an offshore LNG plants exceeds 300 billion yen, and three storage tans are needed for each plant, and sales of more than 10 billion yen are expected from each plants. Brazil’s state-owned oil company Petrobras will reportedly invite a tender internationally this summer for an offshore LNG plant scheduled for operation in 2014. In Indonesia, INPEX is planning to build an offshore LNG plant.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

No. 274: Use a helicopter and an artificial satellite to monitor an afflicted area (May 7, 2011)

The Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications will translate the system to monitor an afflicted area using a helicopter and a satellite into practical applications within the year. The helicopter transmits images of an afflicted area to a distant place via the artificial satellite. Even if the helicopter changes the position to take a photo, the system allows it to stay at the direction to the satellite and send images through the interval between blades of the rotary wing by breaking up an image. At present, images are sent from the helicopter to the relaying station on the ground, but they can reach only for a radius of several tens of kilometers from the relaying station. The new system makes it possible to get data in a distant place even in a big disaster that destroys the base station or in a disaster in the mountain area. Named Heli-Sat, the new system was developed by National Institute of Information and Communications Technology. Fire and Disaster Management Agency introduce the system to three helicopters within the year. The ministry will enforce the ministerial ordinance that specifies the standards of equipment necessary for practical application by the end of the month.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

No. 273: New technology for high-tensile steel plate (May 5, 2011)

Kobe Steel successfully developed the technology to process a high-tensile steel plate two times as strong as the conventional product using steel stamp in alliance with Toyota Motor. The two companies succeeded in developing the technology effective for saving weight and increasing strength simultaneously. The newly developed technology prevents the distortion created in the process to distort a high-intensity steel plate using steel stamp without decreasing the precision. Toyota applied the new high-tensile steel plates to the center pillar of its Lexus brand hybrid CT200h. Because no reinforced parts are required, the company made the right and left center pillars 6 kg lighter and reduced the production cost by 25%. Toyota will expand the application of high-tensile steel plates gradually and apply them to its cars to be built in plants abroad. The company currently applies them only to the section that does not need intricately shaped parts including doors and bumpers. It plans to increase the numbers of sections to realize weight saving for better mileage. Demand for the technology to realize both weight saving and increased intensity is strong, but it grows hard to fabricate a high-tensile steel plate into a complicated shape as strength grows, preventing the spread of high-tensile steel plates.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

No. 272: Organic ink for a soft and inexpensive display unit (May 2, 2011)

As the electronic paper market is expected to grow substantial in the near future, companies concerned are busily occupied with developing related technologies. Teijin, one of Japan’s leading fiber makers, developed organic ink that allows for building a soft display unit at a low cost by giving a twist to the conventional ink. It is possible to arrange the new ink on the display unit like printing on paper without heating it, though the conventional ink needs heating to higher than 100 degrees centigrade. The company developed this ink by dissolving an organic semiconductor material called DNTT in the organic solvent. Developed by Prof. Takimiya of Hiroshima University, DNTT has better electrical characterization than silicone. Believing DNTT is applicable to the drive element for displaying letters, it elaborated the content and developed the ink that requires neither heating in printing nor expensive manufacturing equipment. Teijin applied the new ink on a resin substrate, and built a 1 cm by 1 cm trial drive element and confirmed that it allows voltage to change current, meaning that it can be used for a display unit. It acquired Nanogram in California last year to accelerate the business related ink materials with the hope that the market of drive elements for electronic paper will grow substantial in 2015.