Purpose of the Research

I²CNER’s mission is to contribute to the advancement of low-carbon emission and cost-effective energy systems and improvement of energy efficiency. The array of technologies that I²CNER’s research aims to enable includes solid oxide fuel cells, polymer membrane based fuel cells, biomimetic and other novel catalyst concepts, and production, storage, and utilization of hydrogen as a fuel. Our research also explores the underlying science of CO₂ capture and storage or the conversion of CO₂ to a useful product. Central to I²CNER’s mission is the establishment of an international academic environment that fosters innovation through collaboration and interdisciplinary research (fusion).

Message from the President

Toward the Realization of a Carbon-Neutral Energy Fueled World

Tatsuro Ishibashi, President

Green innovation that utilizes CO₂ emission free renewable energy sources is essential to ensure a sustainable supply of environmentally friendly energy for future generations. In his policy speech during the 203rd extraordinary Diet session convened on October 26, 2020, Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga declared, “We aim to achieve a carbon-neutral, decarbonized green society in 2050, which will pledge a cut in overall greenhouse gas emissions to zero by 2050.”

At Kyushu University, we have comprehensively promoted environmental and energy science research, which is our unique part of strengths, with the aim of realizing a carbon-neutral energy society. On December 1, 2010, International Institute for Carbon-Neutral Energy Research (I²CNER) was established under the World Premier International Research Initiative (WPI) program of the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT).

Over the past ten years, I²CNER has conducted cutting-edge basic research on energy issues both in Japan and the world, and has established a worldwide network and international collaboration schemes with overseas principal investigators. After receiving a final evaluation from the WPI Program Committee stating that the institute had reached the WPI standards (“world premier” status), I²CNER was nominated as a WPI Academy Center on April 1, 2020. By fully making use of the international network we have established to date, we will be i) strengthening our ties with strategic partner universities (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Imperial College London, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, and University of Edinburgh), ii) enriching our international network, iii) actively employing a diverse group of researchers, including young, foreign and female researchers, and iv) accelerating international brain circulation. Through these intensive measures, we aim to become a leading-edge basic research institute that contributes to the realization of a carbon-neutral society.

On August 26, 2019, I²CNER entered into a strategic partnership with the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where Director Petros Sofronis works on a cross-appointment basis. Through the continuation of the University of Illinois Satellite and mutual collaboration, we will further extend our research activities as an international research center for the science of rapid energy conversion on carbon dioxide emissions reduction.

Kyushu University is committed to produce outstanding research accomplishments on energy science and foster world top-level researchers with I²CNER as a leader in achieving a carbon-neutral energy society. We highly appreciate your continued support and cooperation.

Message from the Director

Greetings and welcome to the website of the International Institute for Carbon-Neutral Energy Research (I²CNER).

Professor Tatsumi Ishihara

Climate change issues such as global warming are becoming more serious recently, and the shift to a carbon-neutral society based on renewable energy has become important and urgent global issue. International Institute for Carbon-Neutral Energy Research (I²CNER) was established in 2010 as the WPI Institute, the only institute at that time bearing the name of Carbon-Neutral Energy, and joined the WPI Academy member in 2020. In the last 13 years, I2CNER has been working comprehensively to develop the innovative science and technology necessary to realize a carbon-neutral society.

There are still many difficult challenges exist for shifting from the current energy system that mainly uses fossil fuels to a society based on renewable energy and materials. However, for this, novel energy conversion technology as well as overall design of a social system which uses materials and energy linked each other is required. In this regard, under one roof, I2CNER is developing to create innovative energy conversion technologies that are interconnected.

  Renewable energies such as solar and wind power are widely and evenly distributed energy without regional segregation, and are equally distributed to all people on earth. However, renewable energy has large fluctuations and low energy density, so it is required to develop an effective method for leveling and increase in power density. At I2CNER, we are developing innovative materials and processes such as solar cells that efficiently convert solar energy to electricity, and steam electrolysis that can convert to hydrogen as an energy carrier. Considering CO2 as a carbon resource and also a hydrogen carrier, the efficient conversion process of CO2 to useful compounds are also developing. In particular, we are working on the development of materials that can separate CO2 which is diluted, such as in the atmosphere. On the other hand, we are also investigating the development of new interdisciplinary science for innovative photocatalysts such as dye modification and enzyme, which can directly convert solar energy into hydrogen. Finally, underground storage of CO2 will also be necessary for net decrease of CO2 emission, and therefore, storage technology and the stability of stored CO2 underground are further studied. We will contribute to a carbon-neutral society in a holistic approach, by creation of innovative science and engineering with interdisciplinary sciences at different time and distance scales.

In the last 13 years, I2CNER has been focused on the creation of high efficiency in conversion technology for realization of carbon-neutral energy society. As a next step, we newly added rapid conversion as a keyword and also focus on the energy that is not being used effectively, cultivating a new academic field by integrating disciplines. We aim to contribute to realizing a carbon-neutral energy society by novel concepts including a scenario and design for renewable society.