Toyota-led consortium reaches > 50 % net maximum thermal efficiency in both gasoline and diesel cars

A Japanese R&D consortium under the Japanese Agency of Science Technology and led by Toyota estimates that even in 2040, in spite of the advance of electric vehicles, internal combustion engines will be installed in about 89% of the world’s total cars, including hybrid vehicles and plug-in hybrid vehicles. Thus, the optimization of thermal efficiency of combustion motors remains an important target. Thermal efficiency was 30% in the 1970s and reached 40% over the last 40 years. The consortium has succeeded to improve thermal efficiency to over 50 % within just 5 years by the following measures: achieving high-speed spark combustion for gasoline engines, and super lean combustion (super lean burn) for diesel engines. In addition, technology was developed for reducing mechanical friction loss, technology for improving the efficiency of turbocharging systems, and technology for improving the efficiency of thermoelectric conversion systems by R&D for loss reduction common to both engines. As a result of integrating these technologies, the consortium now claims the highest net thermal efficiency of 51.5% for gasoline engines and 50.1% for diesel engines.

NEDO news release, January 16, 2019

©NEDO Japan
©NEDO Japan

Smart drones in a 4G LTE network as airborne police: Japan

NEDO, KDDI, Teradrone and SECOM, utilizing a 4 G LTE standard, conducted security experiments on multiple autonomously flying drones in Kanagawa Prefecture and succeeded in remote patrol security. By remote monitoring of camera images installed in the drones from the...

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Dai Nippon Printing: thin and stretchable skin displays

Based on developments at the University of Tokyo (JST ERATO Someya Project*) the company is developing a thin and stretchable skin display which it plans to market within 3 years**. In this device, 16 × 24 px micro light emitting diodes and stretchable wires are...

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Low-pressure ammonia synthesis makes progress

The group around Hideo HOSONO at Tokyo Institute of Technology has succeeded to further optimize a catalyst which permits to produce ammonia from molecular nitrogen and hydrogen at relatively mild conditions (400 C, 0.1 MPa = 1 bar). The best catalyst found so far is...

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Japan revitalisiert seine Seiden-Industrie

Japan hat eine lange Tradition für die Herstellung qualitativ sehr hochwertiger Naturseiden („Japanseide“), die z. B. zur Herstellung von Kimonos verwendet werden. Die japanische Seiden-Industrie, vor allem in den Präfekturen Gunma und Kumamoto beheimatet, erlebte...

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Japans Überalterung wird dramatische Folgen haben…

Die Überalterung der japanischen Gesellschaft wird enorme Auswirkungen auf Industrie, medizinische Versorgung, Pflege usw. haben. Ein von der Chiba University durchgeführtes Projekt erlaubt eine Computer-gestützte Vorschau auf die Folgen des Bevölkerungsrückgangs für...

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Raman-based FACS and microfluidics allow for label-free sorting of over 1,000 microbial cells per second, application to astaxanthin production

The group of Kotaro HIRAMATSU at the University of Tokyo has combined Raman-based FACS with high-throughput microfluidics. In order to accelerate Raman spectroscopy, Fast Fourier Transform Coherent Anti-Stokes Raman Scattering Spectroscopy (Fast FT-CARS Method) was used which allows to measure about 24,000 broadband Raman spectra per second. If applied to nitrogen-depleted Hematococcus strains, the production of astaxanthin could be measured over time at the single cell level.

JST news release, January 17, 2018

Raman-based analysis of astaxanthin production by Hematococcus sp.,
© JST Japan

Solar Frontier Co. exceeds 23 % energy conversion efficiency with CIS-based thin-film solar cells

CIS type thin-film solar cells which use copper (Cu), indium (In), selenium (Se) as a light absorbing layer are thinner than crystalline silicon type solar cells. Under a NEDO contract, the company prepared cells of about 1 cm2from this material, not containing cadmium, and reached 23.235 % energy conversion efficiency. Ongoing work on scaling this technology is considered a great step forward toward reducing the power generation costs of solar cells that combine the high performance and high reliability.

NEDO news release, January 17, 2019

©NEDO Japan

Both JAL and ANA announce to use biojet fuel on flights from San Francisco to Haneda

JAL’s biofuel is supplied by Showa Shell Sekiyu. For 2020, the company announced a charter flight with domestic biojet fuel made from clothing as a raw material. The fuel will be prepared from old cotton clothes collected throughout Japan through the Green Earth Institute Co. in Tokyo via an isobutanol route. ANA’s biojet fuel was manufactured by World Energy Co. from used edible oil from Los Angeles suburbs and also purchased from Showa Shell Sekiyu.

Nikkei news release, January 13, 2019

Daiichi Sankyo joins TIT in open innovation on iPS cells producing insulin

The aim is to convert stem cells into beta cells and using them as an alternative to lifelong insulin therapy for patients with type 1 diabetes.It has teamed up with a new company OiDE Beta Revive set-up by Tokyo Institute of Technology, with financial backing from Mitsubishi UFJ Capital.

Tokyo Institute of Technology news release, January 10, 2019

Team at Tokyo Institute of Technology improves synthesis of 2,5-furandicarboxylic aid (FDCA) using ß-manganese dioxide nanoparticles

FDCA is a promising raw material for the synthesis of polyethylene furanoate (PEF), a substitute of PET. It can be prepared by oxidation of glucose-derived 5-hydroxymethylfurfural using a Mn catalyst. The group of Michikazu Hara at TIT has developed an amorphous ß-MnO2 catalyst with a large surface area (nanoparticles) which showed a 3fold higher activity compared to MnO2 catalysts used earlier.

JST news release, January 7, 2019

©JST Japan

Euglena Corp. finds sulfur metabolites detrimental for biofuel production efficiency

A team of Euglena, RIKEN and tdhe University of Tsukuba have found that Euglena microalgae produce H2S as degradation products of proteins and glutathione. As the smell of sulfur compounds is detrimental both to the food and fuel use of these algae, the company will now look for technologies to supress these degradation processes.

Euglena Corp. news release, January 30, 2019 

Just 11 types of HLA types prevail in the Japanese, as shown by genome sequencing and machine learning

A research consortium around OKADA Akemi used next-generation sequencing technology and machine learning to analyze white blood cells of 1120 Japanese for their HLA pattern. It came out that only 11 patterns of white blood cells prevail in the Japanese population. Matching with blood type patterns of 170,000 Japanese documented in BioBank and their leukocyte-related diseases such as immune and lifestyle diseases and malignant tumors,  individual differences in HLA patterns were related to more than 50 phenotypes.

AMED news release, January 29, 2019

Tokyo TB-M Co. introduces LIMEX-made plastic bags made mostly from limestone

LIMEX is a limestone-derived material which consosts of 60 % CaCO3 and 40 % polypropylene. It shows excellent water resistance and good recycling capabilityLIMEX plastic alternatives can be produced from LIMEX pellets. LIMEX paper can be used for books, name cards, posters or notebooks. By using polypropylene, LIMEX paper alternatives are printable with high temperature laser printers.Recently, “plastic” bags derived from LIMEX were shown. TBM owns two factories in Japan. The company started commercial production in 2016. As of July 2017, the company had raised US $50 million from angel investors. 

Nikkei Biotech news release, December 20, 2018

Mitsubishi Life Sciences Institute to begin clinical trials on Muse cell therapy for Epidermolysis bullosa

Muse cells are nontumorigenic pluripotent stem cells present in adult tissues discovered by Mari DEZAWA at Tohoku University in 2010. Mitsubishi Life Sciences Institute has acquired this technology and carries out clinical trials targeting acute myocardial infarction since January 2018. The company announced on December 20 that they have started clinical trials with Muse cells type CL 2020 for the treatment of Epidermolysis bullosa, a genetic disease which leads to easy blistering of skin and mucous membranes.

Mitsubishi Life Sciences Institute news release, December 20, 2018


NEDO and Sumitomo Electric test redox flow battery in California

California has set a high goal for renewable energy introduction, such as by establishing the State Law SB 100 to cover 100% of the electricity in the state with energy that does not emit greenhouse gases by 2045. NEDO and Sumitomo Electric Industries will start a demonstration project where a stationary Redox Flow Battery (RF Battery) is tested for its power adjustment capabilities such as frequency adjustment required by the electric wholesale market and energy supply based on energy trading.

NEDO news release, December 18, 2018

Takara Bio will sell its mushroom business to Niigata’s Yukiguni Maitake

The sales agreement will comprise transfer of development, production and sales of mushrooms, licensing, and sales of active agents. The sales are based on Takara’s management plan 2019 which promotes the three business divisions of “Biotechnology support business”, “Genetic medicine business” and “Medical food bio business”.

Takara Bio news release, December 17, 2018