Thursday, October 31, 2013

No. 797: The undersea tunnel between the two sides of the Bosporus Straits is completed (October 31, 2013)

The undersea tunnel
The Turkish government held the ceremony to commemorate the opening of the undersea tunnel between the two sides of the Bosporus Straits on October 29. Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe attended the ceremony. The undersea tunnel is a yen-loan-financed project, and it was constructed by Obayashi with an investment of 150 billion yen. It is about 13.6 km, of which 1.4 km is beneath the ocean bed. 

Turkish National Railway will operate trains on the 13.6 km with five stops and transport 1.5 million people per day. It will connect the existing line with this new line in 2015. The undersea tunnel will be used for the transport people daytime, and freight trains will transport commodities nighttime. The ocean current is so fast in the Bosporus Straits that various innovative construction methods were employed.

 Japan's Prime Ministrer Shinzo Abe 
addresses in the opening ceremony

Saturday, October 26, 2013

No. 796: Using cheap surplus electricity for mass production of hydrogen is promising (October 26, 2013)

The move to use cheap surplus electricity for mass production of hydrogen by electrolysis of water and use the produced hydrogen as a source of energy of power generation as needed is expected to spread. That is, hydrogen will play a role of a battery. Kawasaki Heavy is ahead of others in this move, and it is negotiating on a project to liquefy hydrogen with the Russian leading electric power company RusHydro headquartered in Oblast Magadan near Polustrov Kamchatka. Because surplus electricity generated by hydraulic power generation is very cheap, it will be possible to supply liquefied hydrogen to Japan at a low cost. The company plans to start the demonstration experiment in Russia in 2017, and subsequently build a large-scale plant with an annual production capacity of 90,000 tons with an investment of 20-30 billion yen.  

It wishes to market liquefied hydrogen imported form Russia as fuel for power generation. Development of the technology to liquefy hydrogen using cheap nighttime electricity will open up the road to use liquefied hydrogen as fuel for daytime power generation. Theoretically, it will also be possible to transport and store hydrogen produced by electrolysis of water using cheap electricity generated by photovoltaic generation in such hot regions as the Middle East and Africa. It is expected that spread of hydrogen power generation will contribute greatly to the spread of renewable energy. 

 Exploring the possibility of hydrogen 

Thursday, October 24, 2013

No. 795: World’s first large-scale hydrogen power plant is scheduled for 2015 (October 24, 2013)

Chiyoda Corp. will construct the world’s first import and distribution base of hydrogen in Kawasaki in 2015. In the base, it will start to operate the world’s first large-scale hydrogen power plant in the same year. The hydrogen generation can basically use the existing equipment for natural gas thermal power plant. Chiyoda’s hydrogen power plant will burn the mixture of hydrogen and natural gas, and hydrogen will account for up to 70% of the mixture. The output will be 90,000 kW that is enough electricity for 30,000 standard households. The generation cost will be lower than oil thermal generation that costs 22 yen per kW and emissions of harmful gases will decrease drastically. The required amount of hydrogen is 200 million cubic meters (about 18,000 tons) per year.   
 Choyoda's demonstration plant of 
producing hydrogen fuel

Chiyoda is ahead in hydrogen generation because it is the only company in the world that has a technology for mass production, transport, and stable supply of hydrogen. The technology dissolves gas that generates in oil drilling in an organic solvent and transport the gas at normal temperature. The special equipment will recover only hydrogen in the Kawasaki base that has an annual capacity to produce 600 million cubic meters of hydrogen at about 30 yen per cubic meter. The company plans to decrease the cost to 20 yen per cubic meter to compete successfully with coal-fired thermal power that costs 10 yen per kW at present by spreading hydrogen generation.

It is estimated that hydrogen generation will account for 15% of power demand in 2030, much higher than 9% in Europe and 7.3% in North America.  

Chiyoda Corp.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

No. 794: The age of hydrogen is coming (October 23, 2013)

Hydrogen is growing its presence as the next energy source, and the age of hydrogen is coming. Toyota and Honda are scheduled to launch fuel-cell vehicles that use hydrogen as fuel in Japan, the U.S., and Europe in 2015. Technology for mass production, safe storage, and safe transport of hydrogen is also developing fast. Toyota’s trial fuel-cell vehicle has a travel distance of 650 km per refill that is three times longer travel distance of an electric vehicle per charge. It traveled 320 km from Nagoya to Tokyo without refill. A fuel-cell vehicle will be put on the market for five million yen in 2015, and a total of two million fuel-cell vehicles will supposedly be traveling in Japan in 2025.

 Let's drive a Toyota's fuel-cell vehicle

Hydrogen can be recovered from water, and it is environmentally-friendly and inexhaustible. It can be mass produced in chemical plants. In addition, when cost of renewable energy decreases considerably in the future, it will be possible to take out hydrogen from water by electrolysis. Nikkei BP Clean Tech Institute predicts that the hydrogen-related infrastructure market will be 37,000 billion yen in 2030, of which 7,000 billion yen is the fuel-cell vehicle market. There will be 3,500,000 fuel-cell vehicles traveling in the world, and the related infrastructure including hydrogen station will be 22,000 billion yen. The Japanese government subsidizes the construction cost of hydrogen stations, and plans to build 100 hydrogen stations in 2015 and increase the number of hydrogen stations to 1,000 in 2025.

Hydrogen is inexhaustile

JX Nippon Oil and Energy will install hydrogen production equipment in its oil refineries after 2016 and construct a system to distribute hydrogen across the country. A huge amount of hydrogen is generated in an oil refinery, but it is technically very hard to eliminate impurities. With its self-developed separating film technology, the company plans to produce hydrogen of nearly 100% purity. 


Tuesday, October 22, 2013

No. 793: Using big data for the management and maintenance of infrastructure is spreading (October 22, 2013)

Fujitsu and Metawater will jointly start the business that utilizes big data for the management and maintenance of water infrastructure like water purification plant by the end of 2014. Metawater will collect data and Fujitsu will analyze them. Metawater will collect photos, sounds, and comments of workers that local governments across the country obtain in the inspection of pumps and water pipes. Fujitsu will analyze them to work out the optimal management method for lower maintenance cost. It will start to provide local governments with the cloud service using tablet PCs within this month. Workers will input comments, photos, and motor sounds into their tablet PCs while they are inspecting the water infrastructure.

Data collected by the workers will be combined with information collected by the sensors installed on the pumps and purifying facilities. A water purification plant will be reproduced in the virtual space to specify dickey parts and sections. It is estimated that a local government with a population between 100,000 and 200,000 people needs about 100 million yen per year for the management and maintenance of water infrastructure. The system to be developed by the two companies is expected to halve the cost to 50 million yen per year

Chugoku Electric Power Plant introduced the "malfunction prediction system for large plant" developed by NEC to one of its nuclear power plants on a trial basis. The system analyzes a huge amount of data collected from the sensors installed in the plant and automatically defines the normal operation, and informs abnormality as soon as it finds an operation different from the normal operation. NTT Data commercialized a system to utilize data obtained from multiple sensors installed on the bridge for repair work with a view to lengthening the life of a bridge.

Big data are now used mostly for promotional activities in marketing, but utilizing them for the management and maintenance of infrastructure is spreading.   
Fujitsu's approach to big data

Sunday, October 20, 2013

No. 792: Who said “Japanese railway can be characterized only by safety and punctuality”? (October 20, 2013)

The Cruise Train Seven Stars in Kyushu
The “Cruise Train Seven Stars in Kyushu” that is the luxurious sleeper train operated by JR Kyushu inaugurated the service on October 15. The word “Seven” means seven prefectures of Kyushu, the number of trains because it is made up of seven trains, and seven major sightseeing materials of Kyushu, namely nature, food, hot spring, history and culture, power spot, human nature, and train. Because JR Kyushu positions the new sleeper train as the “space for adults,” children younger than 12 years old are not allowed to participate in the tour. In addition, smoking is not allowed in the train. 

The new luxurious sleeper train adopted the active suspension for train developed by Nippon Steel and Sumitomo Metal. This active suspension is the mechanism to decrease the rolling of a train. Responding to the sensor that detects the oscillation of the train, the actuator generates the reversely-oriented force to eliminate the oscillation. Besides advanced technologies that materialized this train, people can get excited with supplies, such as cup, dish, plate, chair, desk, and sofa, made by Japanese traditional craftsmanship on the train. You need to prepare 380,000-550,000 yen for a four-day three-night trip (two stays in the train and one stay in a hotel) per person.

 The gorgeous "Cruise Train Seven Stars in Kyushu"

Inside the "Cruise Train Seven Stars in Kyushu"

The most expensive deluxe suite
Some day, you can be a guest.