Director of the Research and Education Center for Advanced Energy Materials, Devices, and Systems, Kyushu University
The history of mankind has been developed by the aid of a variety of activities to pursue a rich life. In particular, after the industrial revolution as an opportunity, we have produced and consumed a large quantity of industrial products. In the material civilization of the twentieth century, we need a large amount of energy based on fossil fuels. Development and utilization technologies for coal, oil, and natural gas have largely advanced, along with the nuclear power technology. Stable supply of energy becomes a national issue in each country. On the other hand, the issue of global warming and environmental pollution, as well as the negative aspects associated with mass production and mass consumption are attracting more and more attention from the public. To keep a rational economic growth rate becomes a big challenge. In particular, the rapid economic development of developing countries has a significant impact on the status of resources, energy, and environment of the world. This has become a problem that must be addressed seriously in the entire world.
As a resource-poor country, Japan has relied on imports for many resources, including energy resources. In order to reduce greenhouse gas emission, we have adopted an energy policy that reduces the proportion of thermal power generation. Accordingly, the proportion of both nuclear power and renewable energy was increased. However immediately after the start of the energy policy, the Great East Japan Earthquake occurred and induced the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant accident, and therefore rocked the foundation of the energy policy scenario. Currently, Japan’s energy supply is almost entirely dependent on fossil fuels. At the same time, concern has spread about the price of energy in the future.
Kyushu University is actively promoting the formation of science and technology research initiative on energy. In Ito campus, International Institute for Carbon- Neutral Energy Research, which focuses on the study of hydrogen utilization technology, was installed and is running. In Chikushi campus, Research and Education Center of Carbon Resources was established to accomplish the research on the carbon resources such as coal, oil, and natural gas, and on the biomass as a renewable energy resource. In the same campus at the same time, the “Novel Carbon Resource Sciences” as a global COE program and the “Global Strategy for Green Asia” as a leading graduate school program are being implemented. Young researchers and graduate students, backed up by the advanced researches, are now trained for the next generation.
In Chikushi campus, the fundamental researches on science and technology for stable supply and efficient use of energy, such as storage technology of electricity, thermal storage technology, and thermoelectric and photoelectric conversion technology, are linked and collaboration with the global COE program is conducted on both research and education. . However, if you looked down into the energy science and technology in a comprehensive manner, these researches on materials, devices, and systems about “energy infrastructure technology” are in the area where Japan has the most powerful activity in the world. On the other hand, in resource-poor country Japan, efficient use of energy resources with minimum environmental impact is an urgent issue. Furthermore, renewable energy development, which is used to replace part of the carbon energy sources is considered as a promising technology that need to be promoted.
Based on the above background, according to the university reform activation program of Kyushu University, three institutes of Chikushi campus including Faculty of Engineering Sciences, Research Institute for Applied Mechanics, and Institute for Materials Chemistry and Engineering, proposed and launched this center. In this center, we focus on the studies on electricity and thermal storage technologies, thermoelectric and photoelectric conversion technologies, energy-saving technologies, as well as renewable energy technologies. Through international collaboration, we are aiming at the realization of green innovation.
Further, around the Research and Education Center of Carbon Resources, energy related researchers of Kyushu University are carrying out joint researches, training young researchers through the collaboration with the Novel Carbon Resource Sciences program and the Global Strategy for Green Asia program.
After the launch in April 2013, we have been involved in the establishment of foundation of the center, including selecting staffs. We started the research and educational activities in earnest in the next year. I sincerely ask for your understanding and supporting.