Greetings and welcome to the website of the International Institute on Carbon-Neutral Energy Research (I2CNER).
Professor Petros Sofronis, PhD Director International Institute for Carbon-Neutral Energy Research
The International Institute for Carbon-Neutral Energy Research (I2CNER) was inaugurated as the sixth institute of the World Premier International (WPI) Research Center Initiative by the Ministry for Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT) of the government of Japan in 2010 after almost five years of active collaboration, interaction, and exchange between Kyushu University and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. At I2CNER, our mission is to contribute to the creation of a sustainable and environmentally-friendly society by conducting fundamental research for the advancement of low carbon emission and cost effective energy systems and improvement of energy efficiency. Amongst the array of technologies that I2CNER’s research aims to enable is the innovative, safe, and reliable production, storage, and utilization of hydrogen as a fuel in a hydrogen-based economy. Our research also explores the underlying science of CO2 capture and storage technology or the conversion of CO2 to a useful product. Additionally, it is our mission to establish an international academic environment that fosters innovation through collaboration and interdisciplinary research (fusion).
Achieving this mission requires a paradigm shift in our approach to research that bridges not only multiple spatial (molecular to miles) and temporal scales (nanoseconds to decades), but it also necessitates bringing together scientists and engineers from disparate disciplines, such as chemistry and geoscience, to work cooperatively and synergistically. Kyushu University, in collaboration with the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, has endeavored to establish the foundation, environment, and framework necessary to stimulate novel, interdisciplinary research amongst some of the world’s leading experts in disciplines such as chemistry, physics, materials science, mechanics, geoscience, oceanic science, and biomimetics.
After two years of hard work, I2CNER has made significant strides toward this goal. Some of the research highlights include: advances in how organic and inorganic semiconductors can be used and joined to produce active photoelectrochemical cells with good performance to synthesize hydrogen; elucidation of the mechanisms of hydrogen uptake in materials and discovery of fundamental deformation processes associated with hydrogen-fatigue interactions; understanding of the interactions between grain size, grain boundaries, and twins in materials for enhanced hydrogen storage performance; development of new heterogeneous and homogeneous catalysts and understanding of how catalysis and durability underscore the performance of low- and high-temperature fuel cells; determined how electrochemical processes can be used to separate CO2 and how it can be converted to a useful product; and developed instrumentation for monitoring CO2 in the ocean and in rock, and advanced the understanding of the dynamics of CO2 in saline aquifers.
Most recently, I2CNER established the Energy Analysis Division (EAD), which assesses the roadblocks to achieving a carbon-neutral energy society due to the constraint of primary energy availability and resources on the basis of CO2 emissions, efficiency, cost, and security. The goal of the EAD is to help in the development of a roadmap toward a sustainable and low-carbon society over mid- and long-term scenarios by continuously assessing the relevance of the Institute’s research activities against the energy demands of society.
In summary, I2CNER, through its research, event organization, engagement of other international agencies, its transformative impact on research culture, and its outreach programs, is gaining recognition as a vital center for carbon-neutral energy and sustainability.