Research theme ①

Grid cooperative, distributed real-time energy system

【Lead examiners : Professor Manabu Ihara, Professor Koichi Shinoda, Professor Junichi Imura】

Increasing the ratio of electrical power derived from renewable energy sources and thereby helping to control global warming will require not only the development of device technologies but also energy system technologies. Energy device technologies includ renewable energy conversion such as solar cells and energy storage such as batteries or hydrogen energy storage. Energy system technologies consistof energy system technologies that will enable the mass low-cost public implementation of variable renewable energy (VRE).

Our research involves designing and developing a diverse component-integrated/evolved grid-cooperative/distributed real time smart energy system that incorporates various energy devices, data and control methods. This system allows control based on a wide variety of indices—such as on efficiency improvements and comfort improvements—within distributed networks, and stably provides electrical power in cooperation with existing grids. Our efforts to construct the “next-generation Ene-Swallow—an information platform based on energy big data—” are being advanced through an industry-academia research collaboration, with Tokyo Tech’s Ookayama Campus as its proving ground.

Research theme ②

Technologies for a renewable baseload energy society

【Lead examiners : Professor Manabu Ihara, Professor Kenji Takeshita】

Increasing the ratio of electrical power derived from renewable energy sources and thereby helping to control global warming requires designing an energy society powered primarily by renewable energy by designing a system that coordinates the traditional concentrated grids and the newly developing distributed grids to stabilize the supply of electrical power.

Our research involves advancing the development of technologies and systems for using variable renewable energy as baseload power by facilitating coordination between concentrated grid power and distributed grid power. This would help to ensure the stability of the power supply across society. The supply of energy has been stabilized by the inertial force of synchronous generation methods such as thermal, hydroelectric, and nuclear power. Our goal is to maintain the power supply’s stability even when the ratio of these power sources is reduced. To that end, we plan to push the development of related technologies such as inverter controls and load-following nuclear power generation.

Research theme ③

Light energy conversion device/system

【Lead examiners : Associate Professor Shinsuke Miyajima, Assistant Professor Kei Hasegawa】

Light energy conversion technologies that use semiconductor materials are key technologies for the realization of a renewable energy society. Solar power generation is one of the most important sources of renewable energy. Photocatalytic technologies are expected to have various applications, including serving as an effective way to reduce carbon dioxide as well as generate hydrogen gas through water electrolysis. There is a demand for greater reductions in the cost of solar power, and the conversion efficiency of photocatalytic technologies also needs refinement.

Our research involves investigating power production forecasts, new system configurations, and other subjects based on the analysis of data gleaned from solar power systems. It also involves cutting costs and boosting the efficiency of various types of solar cells, as well as their use as power sources for the IoT. At the same time, we are searching for new catalysts for carbon dioxide reduction and water electrolysis. We will advance our research efforts—which focus on everything from devices to systems—through industry-government-academia collaborations.

Research theme ④

Fuel cells, electrolysis, hydrogen, storage

【Lead examiners : Professor Masaaki Hirayama, Associate Professor Takashi Sasabe, Assistant Professor Kei Hasegawa】

Advancing the public implementation of renewable energy requires technologies to stabilize the supply of electrical power by storing and releasing energy dependings on the electricity demand. Reversible hydrogen fuel cell/electrolysis systems and stationary batteries can interconvert electrical energy and chemical energy with a high level of efficiency. Implementing on a major scale will require research and development into ways to boost the performance of the individual devices, including their conversion efficiency, safety, service life, cost and more. It also requires advancing the development of technologies for linking data science to optimally operate said devices within energy networks.

Our research involves constructing afundamental technology to measure device characteristics and data analysis in collaboration with Tokyo Tech researchers working in the fields of hydrogen energy, combined fuel cell/electrolysis systems, and storage batteries. Our technological development—which will fundament ally be advanced through industry-academia collaboration—will focus on a wide variety of issues that range from improving the performance of devices to issues related to their operation, including predicting their service life.

Research theme ⑤

Electricity free market, on-campus conceptual trading

【Lead examiners : Professor Mika Goto, Professor Keisuke Tanaka, Specially Appointed Professor Takuya Oda】

Japan has been gradually liberalizing its electric power market since the 1990s. In April 2020, power generation and power transmission were legally separated as the final stage of the three-stage electric power system reform that began in 2015. Since the number of distributed energy sources (including renewable energy sources) will continue to rise, there is a need to develop individual fundamental technologies for distributed energy sources. It is also necessary to create more secure, more resilient systems to smooth the public implementation of said technologies and support the electricity market.

Our research focuses on peer-to-peer (P2P) trading of electricity between prosumers who possess distributed power sources such as solar power generation systems. We will construct and test a system to conduct virtual P2P electricity trades on the Tokyo Tech campus. Using the data we acquire through these virtual trades, we will analyze aspects such as electricity trading platforms, prosumer behavior and price trends. Based on the insights we gain, we will pursue technical development collaborations from the viewpoint of the electricity trading market.

Research theme ⑥

Energy carriers, carbon-reducing catalysts

【Lead examiners : Professor Teruoki Tago, Professor Yusuke Shimoyama】

The construction of hydrogen energy systems that reliably and efficiently use renewable energy is an indispensable step toward achieving an ambient energy society, which is the goal of the InfoSyEnergy Research and Education Consortium.

Our research group is composed primarily of faculty members specializing in catalytic chemistry and chemical systems engineering. We are working to establish the catalytic technologies and chemical energy conversion technologies needed to convert renewable energy to heat, hydrogen and chemical substances, under the concept of converting “power to heat, gas and chemicals.” In addition to developing catalysts for converting hydrogen derived from renewable energy into an energy carrier, we are building an energy carrier manufacturing and use system and establishing a control theory for it based on hybrid models that combine first principles models and statistical models. We are also developing catalysts for sequestering industrial carbon dioxide emissions and to directly convert carbon dioxide into useful chemical substances, including basic chemical substances and fine chemicals. In doing so, we aim to help reduce CO2 emissions and control global warming. Through industry-academia collaborative research, we are seeking to realize our concept to establish an innovative technology based on renewable energy.

Research theme ⑦

Hydrogen / biogas combustion, heat utilization

【Lead examiners : Professor Tomohiro Nozaki, Associate Professor Masayasu Shimura】

To address the tasks of greatest urgency—such as controlling global warming and creating a disaster-resilient society through distributed regional power generation—requires improving combustion technologies for traditional fossil fuels as well as developing technologies for the combustion of renewable energy-derived fuels. The thermal efficiency of society as a whole must also be upgraded by effectively tapping heat sources not currently being used, such as low-temperature waste heat.

Our research involves developing high-efficiency, low environmental impact combustion technologies for fossil fuels as well as refining carbon-free combustion technologies for fuels such as hydrogen and biomass. Theose studies are promoted by utilizing tools such as high spatial and temporal resolution lasers to measure flow, chemical species and temperature, and high-performance simulations of reactive fluids and solids to gain a better understanding of the phenomenon at hand.

The development guidelines for high-efficiency heat utilization technologies and for heat-loss reduction technologies based on process analysis simulations in power generation plants and design optimization via machine learning are also proposed. These research efforts take place in industry-academia collaborative environments.

Research theme ⑧

Future technologies

【Lead examiners : Professor Yoshisato Kimura, Associate Professor Kazuhiko Maeda】

Achieving the goals of the InfoSyEnergy Research and Education Consortium—which include the realization of renewable energy systems and an ambient energy society—requires a prompt shift to sustainable development. Our research focuses on establishing the innovative fundamental technologies of the future. To that end, we will establish flexible systems to foster cooperative research between consortium member companies and Tokyo Tech.

Our team consists primarily of faculty members who are leading specialists in the field of materials, which will be crucial to developing new energy devices. We provide a research environment suitable for the exploration of topics ranging from the scientific principles of elemental technologies to applied technologies for social implementation, whether that involves searching for new substances, processes for synthesizing and manufacturing materials, material design and development or otherwise. When considering the tasks of controlling global warming and solving the environmental energy problem from a global perspective, it is clear that the role of apanese companies and universities must be carefully reexamined and refined from the ground up. To realize the diverse future visions that each consortium member company strives for, Tokyo Tech researchers are advancing collaborative research for creating new ideas and acquiring innovative technologies.

Research theme ⑨

Technology trends, future scenarios, social systems, services

【Lead examiners : Professor Yuya Kajikawa, Professor Kazuyoshi Hidaka, Associate Professor Ryosuke Nishida】

Energy systems have entered a transformational period, with diverse factors interacting in complex ways. This interaction includes technological factors such as the advancement of renewable energy, and policy and institutional factors related to aspects such as electrical power system reform and energy security. In a deeper sense, it also encompasses their impact on the automotive and information device industries; their influence on social aspects such as energy security, environmental preservation and lifestyle convenience; and the creation of new services that use data from distributed energy systems.

The goal of our research is to raw up future energy scenarios and present a vision of an appealing energy society. We do this through analyses of technological trends and other aspects, based on academic knowledge, objective facts and data. To realize that vision, we are also striving to advance research, design systems, propose services and more through industry-government-academia-social collaborations.