Monday, July 25, 2011

No. 294: Environment-conscious medium-sized office buildings (July 26, 2011)

As the trend to utilize natural energy is growing, Daiwa House will propose environment-conscious medium-sized office buildings that utilize natural energy including sunlight. They can save electricity 30% more than the existing office buildings and halve carbon dioxide emissions. The newly-developed technology is called “D’s Smart Office,” and the company simulates the environment performance and estimates how much power consumption is curbed starting in the design stage. Solar panels will be inserted in the newly-developed external wall frames instead of being put on the roof, and they have a generation capacity of about 10 kW per hour at the maximum. The D’s Smart Office comes with highly-insulated outer wall materials and windowpanes as standards. LEDs will be used for lighting and the Building and Energy Management System (BEMS) that controls air-conditioning and lighting automatically for energy conservation as options. The company plans to propose this new concept to medium-sized building with a floor space of less than 1,000 square meters. It has already built a branch office using this technology, and all other offices will be replaced by the newly-developed environment-conscious building.

Monday, July 18, 2011

No. 293: New material as soft as rubber that grows as hard as plastic on magnet (July 18, 2011)

Tetsu Mitsumata, an assistance professor of Yamagata University, developed a new material as soft as rubber that grows as hard as plastic on magnet with a graduate school student in his laboratory. They mixed minute ferrous particles in rubber and successfully made it 180 times harder than the original rubber at a maximum depending on the size of the magnetic field. They put ferrous particles, each of which is 3 micrometers in diameter, in polyurethane resin. They applied the magnetic field of 300 millitesla to the new material with permanent magnet and found that the ferrous particles lined up and hardened in 0.1 second. A column of 3.5 cm in diameter and 5.0 cm in height made of this new material is hard enough to bear the weight of more tan 8 tons. It is possible to make it back to the original hardness by eliminating the magnetic field for scores of seconds. Research activities are under way to develop the same kind of materials worldwide, but they mostly succeeded in increasing the hardness by 3 times at the most. The new material developed by the assistant professor will collaborate with Panasonic Electric Works with a view to applying it to building a pedestal that absorbs an earthquake, producing materials to control car vibration, and developing functional furniture.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

No. 292: Hybrid car carrier with a photovoltaic generation capacity of 160 kW (July 13, 2011)

A car carrier equipped with a hybrid power feeding system that combines photovoltaic cells and lithium-ion cells is on the stocks. The newly-developed power feeding system will supplement the conventional diesel generator, and decrease fuel consumption and carbon dioxide emissions by 5%. This energy saving car carrier was jointly developed by Mitsui O.S.K. Lines, Sanyo Electric, and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries. Solar panels put on the wide deck have a generation capacity of 160 kW, whereas existing carriers carry a photovoltaic generation system with a generation capacity of 40-50 kW at the most. While the carrier is traveling on the sea, the system generates power and stores the generated power using the lithium-ion cells that have a capacity of 2.2 megawatts. The generated power will be used for lighting of the carrier and as the electric source of measuring instruments. The system connects about 300,000 small and general-purpose lithium-ion cells from Sanyo Electric. They are put on the bottom to stabilize the carrier. The new car carrier will be put into commercial service in June 2012.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

No. 291: Japanese railway technology goes to three Asian countries. (July 6, 2011)

The Japanese government decided to participate in four railway improvement projects in Vietnam, Mongolia, and Indonesia with Marubeni and Keihan Electric Railway. They will invest in the projects and participate in management besides exporting rolling stocks and the signal systems. The four projects total 535 billion yen and the Japanese government agreed in principle with the three countries. They are part of the public private partnership initiated by Japan International Corporation Agency in 2001. The biggest of the four is the 35 km railway between Hanoi and the neighboring high-tech park, and Nomura Research Institute will join the team for the feasibility study. The investment will be 270 billion yen. In Mongolia, two subways will be constructed under the initiative of Marubeni. In Indonesia, Japan Transportation Consultants and Nikken Sekkei Civil Engineering will play the key role. Tokyu Land will help the project with its know-how on the infrastructure development in major stations. Japan has well advanced technology and highly sophisticated knowledge in the railway development. The market of infrastructure development in Asia is expected to 8,300 dollars up to 2000.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

No. 290: Power saving outlet for household use (July 2, 2011)

Kyoto University and Daiwa House jointly develop the power saving outlet for household use to eliminate unnecessary electricity in household. The outlet saves power at home beginning with such low-priority electricity as standby power and lighting in the daytime in accordance with the power consumption target set up beforehand. It has a built-in microcomputer and figures out the power consumption of electric appliances in real time. The special equipment receives data from the microcomputer wirelessly and analyzes the usage pattern. For example, if power consumption is very small for a certain period, the system judges the electric appliance is not used for a long period and turns it off. In the case of dual-income household, the system turns off every home appliance except refrigerator in the daytime. The research team was participated by Kobe University and Enegate. The substantiative experiment will start in Kyoto this autumn to examine the user-friendliness, accuracy, and cost. The research team plans to put this system into practical use in three years. The scheduled price is less than 100,000 yen per household. Demand for this kind of product is expected to grow fast.