Saturday, September 25, 2010

No. 174: Eurus Energy constructs a large photovoltaic power plant in the U.S. (September 25, 2010)

Eurus Energy will construct one of America’s largest photovoltaic power plants with an investment of about \18.5 billion, responding to President Obama’s Green New Deal. The plant has an output of 45,000 kW that is equivalent to the electricity consumed by 10,000 households. It will be constructed on the 200-acre farmland in the southern part of the state of California. Construction will start by the end of this month, and the plant will be put into operation next June. At present, the largest photovoltaic power plant in the U.S. has an output of 25,000 kW. The management company for the plant was established by Eurus and the local generation company on a 50:50 basis. Generated electricity will be sold to energy suppliers for 20 years. One third of the construction cost is the subsidy from the U.S. government. The total output of photovoltaic generation in the U.S. was 477,000 kW. The U.S. is the fourth largest, following Germany, Italy, and Japan. The U.S. is expected to be second largest in 2012.
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Friday, September 24, 2010

No. 173: Artificial intelligence capable of understanding common sense (September 24, 2010)

Dentsu that is Japan’s leading ad agency and Nihon Unisys will jointly start research and development of artificial intelligence that allows for spontaneous conversation with human in alliance with Media Lab of MIT of the U.S. They try to incorporate common sense and the language sense of ordinary Japanese in the computer to realize spontaneous conversation. They plan to apply the AI technology to the response system of the call center or search technology using ambiguous terms. They will construct a database containing one million combinations of common senses and terms that ordinary Japanese use in daily life in two years. AI that has the learning function is expected to understand the intention behind the terms. They will shortly open a website for the word association game to collect common senses and sense and feeling. The constructed database will be provided to other companies and researchers for free for wider utilization.
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Thursday, September 23, 2010

No. 172: New technology for recycling resins used in home electronics (September 23, 2010)

Panasonic developed a new technology to recycle resins used in home electronics. The new technology sorts out necessary resins from shredder dust containing several kinds of resins and metal pieces using near-infrared ray. It picks three kinds of resins of acrylonitrile butadiene styrene, polypropylene, and polystyrene at a precision of higher than 99%. If near-infrared light is irradiated to resin pieces, the waveform of reflected light varies with the kinds of resin pieces. Using this characteristic, the equipment made up of a belt conveyor and air injectors sorts out necessary resins. Because the equipment can eliminate resins that contain bromine, it is possible to make reprocessed resin that conforms to RoHS, the environment standards of the European Union. The demonstrative equipment has been set up. Panasonic plans to recycle 1,000 tons of 5,000 tons of shredder dust it produces annually in 2011.
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Tuesday, September 21, 2010

No. 171: Robot moving around on the shortest possible route (September 22, 2010)

A research team led by an associate professor of Tokyo Institute of Technology developed a robot that can move around taking the shortest possible route without colliding with people and obstacles even in the crowd. The robot can know his location and learn the situation around him with the help of the image processing technology that can draw a map unaffected by the moves of people. Such preparations such drawing lines for leading are not necessary. This kind of autonomous locomotion is unprecedented. It contributes to the development of a robot useful in living environment, and creates a wide range of applications in such fields as household, public facilities, and distribution services. The team confirmed that the robot moved autonomously taking the shortest possible route precisely in the experiment conducted in the crowd of the school cafeteria.
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No. 170: Humanoid robot for the development platform is ready (September 21, 2010)

National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST), Japan’s leading research agency of advanced technology, announced that it developed the humanoid robot HRP-4 in alliance with Kawada Industries in Tokyo. Starting in January next year, the newly developed robot will be shipped to universities and research agencies both at home and abroad as the platform for the development of humanoid robot. Kawada Industries wishes this new robot to be used as the platform for the development of technology for the collaboration between man and robot. The new robot is smaller than the existing robot. It is 151 cm tall that is about 3 cm shorter and weighs 39 kg that is 19 kg lighter than the existing robot. The axis of the robot has 34 degrees of freedom including 7 degrees of freedom with one arm. The two organizations successfully reduced the cost by using standardized parts and components. The one arm can carry 0.5 kg. The software platform “Open TRM-aist” is used for the control system. The new robot is priced at 26 million yen that is 30% lower than the existing humanoid robot.
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Monday, September 20, 2010

No. 169: Technology to open the way to the ultrahigh-speed PC (September 20, 2010)

Hitachi developed the technology to produce laser parts vital to the optical circuit of the ultrahigh-speed PC at a lower cost. With the help of nanotechnology, it successfully amplified luminescence and light using the hard-to-flash silicon material that is used in semiconductors. The company set a silicone wafer as thin as about one nanometer at intervals of 30 nanometers and located an element that emits light because light is amplified inside it. Because the existing semiconductor technology is used, the production cost will be less than one tenth of the case that uses a difference material. Chemical semiconductors like gallium nitride can be used for the semiconductor-based laser, but they require great care and take much time for production. Silicone allows for a lower production cost because it can be produced together with the existing semiconductors. Before long, the company is expected to develop a laser connecting lights between 100 circuits on a one-centimeter-square LSI. Related web page:

Sunday, September 19, 2010

No. 168: Detachable photovoltaic panel with hook and loop fastener (September 19, 2010)

Obayashi Corp., one of Japan’s leading general contractors, developed detachable thin photovoltaic panel with hook and loop fastener. The company integrated the bendable amorphous photovoltaic panel with the protective film to allow the user to stretch and unstick it manually for easy installation and easy change of installation location. It is now confirming such performance as durability and generating efficiency of the trial product installed on the roof of the company research laboratory. It plans to install it in the open space in the construction site within the year. It is scheduled to produce it on a commercial basis after next year and market it to facilities like the event site. Because the new product can be put on the curved wall, it has more installable locations than the nondetachable panel. It costs considerably less to install this new photovoltaic panel than the conventional one because the platform on which the conventional type product is installed is not necessary, though the former has lower generating efficiency than the latter.
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Saturday, September 18, 2010

No. 167: Estimate damage of each floor of a high-rise building in earthquake (September 18, 2010)

Mitsui Fudosan, one of Japan’s leading real estate companies, and Kajima, one of Japan’s leading general contractors, developed the system to estimate damage of each floor of a high-rise building in earthquake. By installing the detector of tremor in 5-10 places, the system figures out the force of each floor and the deformation of the building in about five minutes using the data on direction and acceleration of the floor tremor. Because tremor and damage in earthquake greatly vary with the floor in a high-rise building, the system makes it possible to stop using heavily damaged floors to allow for prompt recovery and support for business operation. In addition, it is possible to evacuate people beginning with those on the floor highly susceptible to afterquake to reduce the secondary disaster. It costs seven million yen per building to install this system. Mitsui Fudosan plans to install this system in all of the 39 high-rise buildings it operates in the Tokyo metropolitan area.
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Friday, September 17, 2010

No. 166: Large organic EL screens for digital signage (September 17, 2010)

Mitsubishi Electric will launch large organic EL screens on the 21st. The newly developed organic EL screen allows for clearer image than the LED-based screen, and the former is thinner than the latter. The new screen is for digital signage in commercial establishments and public faculties. It adopted the fabrication method to line multiple modules, each of which is 38.4 centimeter square, made of organic EL elements, and the customer can decide the screen size depending on its requirements. Besides the conventional rectangular screen, the company can offer the horizontally long screen to be used in the aisle and the screen to cover the wall with angle and curve. It is only 9.9 cm deep and excellent in expressiveness of contrast. Small TV screens using organic EL are available from Korean companies, but Mitsubishi Electric successfully commercialized the large screen of the same kind for the first time in the world. A 155-inch organic EL rectangular screen is priced at about 39 million, almost the same as LED-based screen.
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Wednesday, September 15, 2010

No. 165: Water-saving agricultural technology goes to Australia (September 16, 2010)

The Kaiteki Institute, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Mitsubishi Chemical, concluded an agreement with Victoria State government of Australia to spread water-saving agricultural technology in Australia. Using the special polymer membrane, the technology allows for growing vegetables like tomato in the greenhouse with small amount of water. It is supposed to enjoy great demand in Australia suffering from water shortage. Developed by Mebiol Inc. in Kanagawa Prefecture, the special polymer membrane has the mechanism to take in necessary water and nutrients efficiently under it. In the course of cultivating tomatoes in Japan, it was confirmed that greenhouse cultivation using this technology needed only about 5% of water needed by the cultivation in the open air. The company is trying to apply this technology to the open air cultivation of corns like wheat. Mitsubishi Chemical will cooperate with Mebiol to mass produce the polymer membrane.
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No. 164: Portable industrial microscope from Japan (September 15, 2010)

Nikon Corp., one of Japan’s leading makers of optical products, announced that it will launch a portable industrial microscope in November. Unlike the stationery microscope, the new product is cordless allows for inspection on the production line for increased inspection efficiency. The user can use it with one hand and take a picture as if he does it with a digital camera. The new product comes with a 2.7-inch LCD, and the magnification ranges from 20 times to 400 times. The user puts the camera of the microscope on such subjects as printed circuit and semiconductor wafer for inspection. He can use it as a conventional stationery microscope by placing it on the special fixture. The new product is priced at about 2.8 million yen including the electric fixture and a 17-inch monitor.
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Monday, September 13, 2010

No. 163: Wireless power feeding for the mobile phone (September 14, 2010)

Fujitsu announced the idea of wireless power feeding of mobile phone and the plan to put it into practical application toward 2012. The wireless power feeding is to feed power to the mobile phone without the power cord. Sony and Toshiba are also working on wireless power feeding. Fujitsu adopted the magnetic field resonance system, and the feeder circuit and incoming circuit consist of coil and condenser. When alternating current is applied to the feeder circuit, current is also generated on the incoming circuit like that the vibration created by diapason is transmitted to another diapason. It is possible to transmit power to equipment that is from several centimeters to several meters away besides feeding several instruments at the same time. The company built a trail mobile phone that incorporates and successfully achieved a feeding efficiency of 85% in the distance of 15 meters. It developed the simulation technology that allow for high-speed and high-precision analysis of interference of the circuit.
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No. 162: Organic electro luminescence has longer life (September 13, 2010)

Research and development of organic electro luminescence (EL) promising for the next-generation TV panel is accelerating in Japan. Asahi Glass, Japan’s leading glassmaker, developed the new material to bond the glass substrate of an organic EL panel. It makes the light emitting organic EL last more than 15 times longer than the existing product, and lengthens the life period from the current two to three years to 10 years. Shred glass finely for less than 10b micrometer each and mix the particles with organic solvent. The new material maintains the glass characteristics and controls the intrusion of moisture and oxygen that shortens the life of the element as compared with widespread sealant made of resin. Research to lengthen the life period of the element is also making a progress. The researcher told that it is possible to realize the same product life as liquid crystal panel using currently available elements. The company will start mass production in 2011.
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Sunday, September 12, 2010

No. 161: Technology that does not depend on rare earthes (September 12, 2010)

Japanese makers developed the technology to build the motor, indispensable to electric vehicles and home electronics, that does not depend on rare earthes responding to China’s export regulations of rare earthes. Hitachi developed the motor using ferrite magnet that is permanent magnet made of easily procurable and inexpensive ferric oxide. The company modified the structure so that magnetic energy can be transferred to the rotating part efficiently for higher power. The newly developed motor exhibits the same performance with about 10% less electricity consumed by the motor made of rare earthes. Greatly contributing to energy saving, it will be incorporated in air-conditioners in two years. Daikin Industries also developed a high-output motor by combining small magnetic energy and ferrite magnet in collaboration with a university professor. The company adopted the self-developed structure that embeds ferrite magnet in the iron rotor. It plans to build a big motor with an output of 20 kW within next year.
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Saturday, September 11, 2010

No. 160: Build fabulous villas and condos in Hokkaido for Asians (September 11, 2010)

A real-estate developer in Hokkaido decided to build fabulous villas and condos for tourists from Asia with an investment of 51 billion yen. They have a total accommodation capacity of more than 4,000 people. In Hokkaido, projects financed by Asian capitals are going on to develop resorts, and the company decided to enter the business for rapidly increasing sightseers from Asia. Allying with real-estate developers in China and Hong Kong, it will start the project in less than two years and plan to open the villas and condos between 2015 and 2020 in the 290,000-square-meter land in the suburbs of Sapporo that is the prefectural capital of Hokkaido. Part of villas and condos will be leased to general sightseers when they are not used by the owner. It is currently operating a ski resort, a golf course, and a recreational park beside the land for the project. This company is operating about 40 facilities across the country.
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Thursday, September 9, 2010

No. 159: The government collects emissions quotas from home to sell on the market (September 10, 2010)

The Japanese government will start the business to collect emissions quotas from home and sell them to companies in 2011. The company that purchases the household emissions quotas can regard them as the emissions that they reduced. Japan may be first to put economic value to household emissions quotas and sell them on the market. It plans to collect household emissions quotas of some 200,000 tons annually that is about 0.1% of total household emissions. The government agency in charge of this business already requested budget of about 90 billion yen. The emissions quota is scheduled to be sold at \1,000-2000 per ton. The purchase of emissions quotas is in exchange for the subsidies given to households for their purchases of photovoltaic generators and electric vehicle. The subsidies are currently about \300,000 for a standard photovoltaic generator and about 1,500,000 yen for an electric vehicle. Household fuel cell and highly-efficient water heater are also subject to this government decision.

No. 158: Display to show an image as if it hovers in the open space (September 9, 2010)

No. 158: Display to show an image as if it hovers in the open space (September 9, 2010)

A venture business named Albedo in the Tokyo metropolitan area developed the technology the display that shows an image as it hovers in the open space. The company applied the head up display technology that allows information like speed to come up on the windshield of car and airplane. It wishes to apply the newly developed technology to digital signage and product display. The developed display is made up of a projector, a mirror, and two screens. An image of the projector is reflected to the first screen using the mirror, and the reflected image runs through the almost transparent second screen. The image is refracted, and the viewer sees the image as it is behind the second screen. The newly developed display is 20-40 cm wide and 30-60 cm high. Depending on the size, it is priced at 200,000-600,000 yen. It is possible to increase the width to more than 100 cm. The company already sold several units to a leading printing company planning to use them for product display, and it is receiving several inquiries.
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Wednesday, September 8, 2010

No. 157: Technology to halve LED’s power consumption (September 8, 2010)

TechinTech in Kyoto, a Dainippon Screen’s subsidiary, obtained good prospect for the technology to halve LED’s power consumption using nanotechnology. The company processed the surface of the transparent sapphire substrate that supports the light-emitting semiconductor, and created concavity and convexity with depth of 150 nanometers on it to let light from the semiconductor go to one direction laconically. An LED built by this technology is two times brighter than the existing LED with the same power. That is, the new LED is as bright as the existing LED with half power consumed by the latter. Because LED consumes about one tenth of power consumed by the filament lamp, the technology can reduce LED’s power consumption to one twentieth of the filament lamp’s power consumption. The new technology can be applied to the existing LED mass production line without modification. Dainippon Screen plans to build equipment to create the microstructure toward next spring. The equipment will be priced between 150 million and 500 million yen.
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Tuesday, September 7, 2010

No. 156: Ceramic water treatment film for seawater desalination (September 7, 2010)

Metawater, Japan’s leading company of water treatment, decided to enter the seawater desalination business in foreign countries by commercializing special water treatment films toward 2012 and market them in the Middle East. The film that the company tries to develop is made of ceramics and used in the pretreatment process to eliminate impurities like trash from seawater before dechlorination. The widespread film used in the seawater desalination plant is an organic film with refined wholes on the surface to filter salinity in seawater. It is possible to prevent clogging of the organic film by combining the existing organic film with the ceramic film that Metawater tries to develop for reduced running cost of a plant. In the spring of 2011, the company plans to operate a demonstration plant with a daily capacity of 400 tons that incorporates trial film and verify the ability to eliminate impurities for about one year. For the demonstration experiment, it gets the subsidy from the seawater desalination corporation in Saudi Arabia. By utilizing the data it obtains in the demonstration plant, it will commercialize the new film in the spring of 2012.
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Monday, September 6, 2010

No. 155: High-performance organic material transistor with five times higher motion speed (September 6, 2010)

A research team led by an Osaka University professor and a Hiroshima University professor developed a high-performance transistor using organic materials. The newly developed transistor can move about five times faster than the existing silicon transistor. The research team designed a new technology that can process on the thin film of the single-crystal structure where an electron can easily move using the organic material developed by Hiroshima University that allows for high-speed motion. The trial product allows an electron to move 10 times faster than the traditional organic transistor. Because it is possible to print the circuit pattern only by applying the organic solution to the base plate, the technology is applicable to mass production. The team will collaborate with companies to build liquid crystal display based on this new technology and study problems with the practical application. It plans to advance the research to develop bendable electronic paper by combining the technology with the electro luminescence display equipment.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

No. 154: World’s fastest digital copier with the compensation ability (September 5, 2010)

Dainippon Printing will put a super high-speed digital copier into practical application in alliance with Tokyo University in two years. The copier can copy the whole book by flipping it over. The underlying technology was the high-speed book flipping scanning system developed by Prof. Masatoshi Ishikawa of Tokyo University. His system makes it possible to read the whole book by flipping it over under the high-speed camera and the infrared ray laser equipment. The infrared ray laser system detects deformation of letters and pictures created while pages are flipped. The camera that shoots 500-1,000 times per second checks and compensates the deformation instantly. Thereby, it is possible to reproduce all letters and pictures faithfully. The existing technology reads 25 pages per minute at most, while this new system reads 170 pages per minute. In addition, it can compensate deformation of letters and pictures. Dainippon Printing plans to develop a robot that can flip over pages without damaging a book in two years.

Friday, September 3, 2010

No. 153: House featured by increased heat insulating properties (September 4, 2010)

Sekisui House, one of Japan’s leading house construction companies, launched a new steel framed house, many of whose parts are covered with heat insulation materials. Unlike the existing house, not only the beam and columns but also ceiling, floor, and walls are covered with heat insulation materials in this new house. It can reduce utility costs and carbon dioxide emissions by 35-50%, respectively, more than the existing house. By increasing the strength of structural members like steel beam, reinforcing steel, and wall, the company successfully secured as much as 6-meter opening of windows, large eaves, blow-by, and veranda to give the house even more openness specific to a Japanese house. The new house is named Be Saie, and it costs \600,000 and more per 3.3 square meters.
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No. 152: Quantum cryptography for mobile phone from Japan (September 3, 2010)

Mitsubishi Electric developed the technology to apply quantum cryptography that theoretically cannot be tapped to mobile phone. This is the world’s first technology to apply quantum cryptography to mobile phone. The technology connects communication partners by optical fiber and sets special equipment in the offices. When a mobile phone is connected to the special equipment temporarily, the mobile phone can download the encryption key. Once the encryption key is downloaded, the user can carry the mobile phone like a standard mobile phone. In the communication mode, he can send his voice data by encrypting them using the encryption key. Used encryption keys will be erased. Quantum cryptography is called the ultimate code language because it can detect the tapping by the third party. The company plans to put the technology into practical use in three to five years. The technology will be displayed in Quantum Cryptography and Communications 2010 scheduled for 18th-20th October in Tokyo.
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Thursday, September 2, 2010

No. 151: Robot that shakes his head horizontally when he feels an odor (September 2, 2010)

A research team led by Shoji Takeuchi, an associate professor of Tokyo University, experimentally built a sensor using a cell that responds to a specific odor. Many odor sensors using oxide semiconductor or synthetic polymer are currently available, but this is the first sensor that uses a cell. This sensor technology will make it possible to detect various odorous substances in the future. The research team revealed the image showing that a robot incorporating this sensor shakes his head horizontally when he feels an odor. This technology realizes the possibility to develop a robot that detects body odor and breath odor in the future. It utilizes the mechanism that makes a living body feel an odor. When an odorous substance sticks to the receptor inside the cell membrane, the cell membrane makes an opening into which surrounding ion flows.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

No. 150: Japanese wind generation technology goes to Norway (September 1, 2010)

Eurus Energy, Japan’s leading wind generation company and a subsidiary of Tokyo Electric Power, decided to develop a large-scale wind-power station in Norway to make the best use of winds of 8 meters per second on average. The station is scheduled to have a generation capacity of 60,000 Kw and start operation next fall. The construction cost is about 15 billion yen, third of which is the subsidy from the Norwegian government. The company will install 26 generators from Siemens AG, and each generator has a generation capacity of 2,300 Kw. The local company of Eurus will hold 66% of the right and take care of the operation of the station. Eurus is in the middle of survey on the possibility to construct a wind-power station in other three places in Norway, and it plans to expand the business in North Europe. Generated electricity will be sold to the European market through the intermediary of distributors.