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Seminar / Symposium

I²CNER Kick-off Symposium held on February 1, 2011

Director Petros Sofronis 

Symposium (in the hall)


Symposium (in the lobby)

The Kick-off Symposium for the International Institute for

Carbon-Neutral Energy Research of Kyushu University (I²CNER) was held Tuesday, February 1, 2011, at the Kyushu University’s Inamori Frontier Research Center, Ito Campus.


Among the approximate 160 national and international attendees were special guests Mr. Takafumi Goda (speech read by Mr. Koshi Nitta), Director-General of the Science & Technology Policy Bureau of MEXT, Mr. Tadashi Higashi, Secretary-General of the Fukuoka Strategy Conference for Hydrogen Energy, and Dr. Anne Emig, Director, National Science Foundation (NSF) Tokyo Regional O ffice.  In her remarks, Dr. Emig stated that I²CNER provides a great opportunity to bring together the U.S. and Japanese academic and industrial communities and government agencies to work in concert on the future of energy.  In addition, Mr. Toshio Kuroki, World Premier Initiative (WPI) Program Director, gave a detailed presenation on the mission and objectives of the WPI program and went on to emphasize the high hopes and expectations for the WPI's transformative impact on research in academia.


During the opening lecture, I²CNER Director, Professor Petros Sofronis emphasized that JSPS, MEXT, Kyushu University and the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign are forging a new pa radigm in carbon-neutral energy research.  He stated that I²CNER is taking a comprehensive approach to energy research as its scientists are not only looking for a new energy carrier, but are also exploring ways to mitigate society's carbon footprint.  It is through this all-encompassing and inter-disciplinary approach that those at I²CNER hope to affect positive societal change.    


Director Sofronis also explained that the Institute promotes an open research environment where fundamental scientific principles and discoveries can be openly conferred between academic and industrial leaders alike.  He went on to outline his plan to facilitate the active exchange of graduate students, post-doctoral researchers, and faculty members between institutes.


The Symposium's morning session featured three keynote addresses (please see below the summaries) given by I²CNER Principal Investigators Prof. Robert Ritchie of the University of California, Prof. Kazunari Sasaki, Associate Director of I²CNER, and Prof. Robert Finley of the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign.  The afternoon sessions included presentations (please see below the abstracts) by Institute Principal Investigators affiliated with Kyushu University, Sandia National Laboratories (U.S.A.).  In particular, the U.S. PIs (Professors David Cahill, Andrew Gewirth, Angus Rockett, James Stubbins, Robert Ritchie, and Dr. Brian Somerday) interacted with their Kyushu counterparts and worked on aligning their mutual research interests.


Professor Nobuhide Kasagi, WPI Program Officer, concluded I²CNER's Kick-off Symposium by stressing that I²CNER should engage in consgtant evaluation of its potential contribution to the elimination of CO² emissions.  He also suggested that I²CNER ensure its research activities are kept in perspective relative to other potential technologies toward a carbon-neutral energy society and contribute to engage and promote networking between industry, government, and national laboratories.


The day's activities closed with a facility tour led by Vice-Director Prof. Yukitaka Murakami and I²CNER Associate Director Prof. Kazunari Sasaki. 





 KEYNOTE SPEECHES (Chair: Yukitaka Murakami, I²CNER Vice Director) 


Robert O. Ritchie

University of California - Berkeley

Title: "The Role of Hydrogen in Accelerating Crack Propagation in Steels"


Prof. Ritchie and his research group examined the mechanics and mechanisms of hydrogen-assisted cracking in low-alloy martensitic-bainitic steels in various hydrogen-producing (e.g., moist air) and hydrogen-containing (e.g., low and high pressure hydrogen gas) environments. 


He described that this study is that all steels, indeed the vast majority of metallic materials, are highly susceptible to degradation from hydrogen in all forms.  A hydrogen-embrittlement resistant metallic alloy is unlikely to be found.  Accordingly, akin to the way that the problem of fatigue failures is successfully handled in aerospace, the use of metallic materials in hydrogen-containing and hydrogen-producing environments must involve a comprehensive fracture-control plan, with appropriate prognosis procedures to predict the potential failure of structural components in the presence of hydrogen.




Kazunari Sasaki

I2CNER Associate Director, Kyushu University 

Title: "Fuel Cell Science: Current Understanding and Future Challenges"


In the speech, the current understanding on fuel cell science and the perspectives were presented. 


Scientific basis of solid state ionics for advanced fuel cells and related electrochemical devices will be established by focusing on alternative materials research, corresponding to solid state electronics for electrical engineering.  Based on scientific achievements and new materials proposed, fundamental material/device design principles will be established, and which will contribute to a considerable reduction of CO² emissions of several tens of percent in stationary, automotive, portable, and related solid state electrochemical applications to realize a carbon-neutral energy society.



Robert J. Finley

University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign

Title: "The Carbon Dioxide Problem and a Role for Geological Carbon Dioxide Sequestration"


The beginning of the speech, it was mentioned that assuming no policy changes, global energy-related CO² emissions grow 43% from 2007 to 2035.


The Midwest Geological Sequestration Consortium (MGSC), one of seven Regional Carbon Sequestration Partnerships funded by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), at the University of Illinois has investigated the options for geological carbon dioxide (CO²) sequestration in Illinois Basin.  MGSC is Within the Basin, underlying most of Illinois, western Indiana, and western Kentucky, USA, are relatively deep and/or thin coal seams least likely to be mined, numerous mature oil fields, and deep salt-water-bearing that are potentially capable of storing CO².




LECTURES (Chair: Harry L. Tuller, Massachusetts Institute of Technology)


Tatsumi Ishihara

Kyushu University

Title: "Production of Hydrogen by Artificial Photosynthesis"


At present, hydrogen is produced industrially by steam reforming, however this reaction is exothermic reaction and large CO² emission is occurred during H² production. 


Therefore, one of the most ideal energy production methods is so-called "artificial photosynthesis". Up to now, many studies on artificial photosynthesis have been done; however, there is no case to success of hydrogen production by real double photo excitation system which is used in photosynthesis in nature.


Up to now, injection of electron into organic semiconductor is highly difficult, however, this study demonstrated that the self-organization of organic semiconductor is  useful for achieving electron injection into organic semiconductor.  Also much increase in charge separation efficiency and surface activity is requested for this system.


In this division, not only single photocatalyst system but also combination of solar cell with electrolyzers will be studied.



John A. Kilner

Imperial College London

Title: "Materials for High Temperature Steam Electrolysers"


The talk was on fundamental studies directed towards materials for high temperature steam electrolysers(HTE), a method being investigated for the production of hydrogen from water with oxygen, and which is very closely related in terms of the materials requirements.


In the lecture, three methods were expounded. Conventional low temperature electrolysis needed high electric power consumption. Research into high temperature electrolysis has some problems with sealing and thermal stability of materials, and with materials costs etc., although Solid Oxide Electrolysis Cell (SOEC) has advantages. Therefore, intermediate temperature electrolysis has been studying.


New materials routes have to be based on selection criteria and surface studies, and should be experimental and be simulated.




Etsuo Akiba

Kyushu University

Title: "Future of Energy and Storage"


Full launch of FCVs in the market is slated for 2015 and a necessary number of hydrogen refueling stations is expected in four metropolitan areas, including Fukuoka.


At present, there is no appropriate method of hydrogen storage and transportation that satisfies following requirements; Volume energy density (50g/L), Weight energy density (6wt%), Energy efficiency, Cost ( ~0.5 million Y ).


Hydrogen storage materials are one of the most promising candidates for hydrogen storage and transportation.


Our technical approach and target is 1) select most possible candidates of high performance materials 2)understand Hydrogen-Material systems using various methods 3) develop high-performance materials( Target: 6wt%as system).




Louis Schlapbach

Federal Institute of Technology Zurich

Title: "Future Energy Technologies, A Focus On Hydrogen and its Storage"


Thinking about future energy technology, we need sustainable solutions to resolve problems such as greenhouse gases, global warming etc. In other words, sustainability; efficient use of energy and materials in intelligent system, is necessary. In the talk, the case of Forum Chriesbach, in Zurich, was introduced as a modern passive energy building.


The lecture focused on hydrogen, its storage and safeness as a energy carrier, adducing each instances. Hydrogen is expected as the future energy, taken into account its properties; non-toxic, carbon-free, unlimited. For the future, more acceptance of efficient energy technology by society would be required.




Tetsuo Yanagi

Kyushu University

Title: "Carbon Capture and Sequestration in the Ocean"


The CO² dumping in the ocean itself is prohibited by the London Convention (1996), however, the CO² storage in the rock under the sea bed was permitted in 2006.  It means the possibility exists for the permission of CO² storage in the deep ocean by showing the scientific assessment.  Therefore, understanding long-term behavior of CO² and environmental impact of acidification in ocean, and providing scientific data for public perceptions of ocean sequestration are need.


At the moment, there are unresolved issues such as stability of ocean/CO² system and environmental impact by CO2 ocean sequestration.


In order to get the societal consensus on ocean CCS (CO² Capture and Sequestration), the stability of CO2 sequestration under mesoscale eddies and upwelling in ocean, and the biological effect of ocean acidification and bio-pumping of CO² have been studying.




Brian P. Somerday

Sandia National Laboratories

Title: "Improving the Fatigue Resistance of Ferritic Steels in Hydrogen Gas"


Ferritic steels are attractive structural metals for large-scale gas containment due to their low cost and manufacturing versatility. However, these materials exhibit numerous manifestations of hydrogen embrittlement, including hydrogen-accelerated fatigue crack growth.


This crack growth mode must be considered in the design of hydrogen gas containment structures, since these structures are subjected to pressure  cycling.  Improving the resistance of ferritic steels to hydrogen-accelerated fatigue crack growth can enable the safe use of these materials in hydrogen containment structures.




Angus Rockett

University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign

Title: "Materials and Devices for Driving Photoelectrochemistry and Hydrogen Production"


Research Objectives:

- Development of high efficiency material conversion processes without any by-products such as waste and CO².

- Electrochemical processes driven by renewable energy sources

- Development of innovative and sustainable hydrogen production processes, such as photocatalytic water splitting

- Photocatalytic devices and advanced photovoltaics




Andrew A. Gewirth

University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign

Title: "Catalysis, Characterization, and Microfluidics"


The talk provided a brief overview of fuel cell-related research at the University of Illinois, with a focus on catalysis, characterization of materials and mechanisms, and the use of microfluidic characterization platforms.


The research has a significant focus directed toward understanding the mechanisms of the oxygen reduction reaction (ORR) on different electrode surfaces followed by the use of that understanding to develop new catalysts which feature the use of materials other than Pt or other precious metals.


Characterization of the ORR and other fuel cell-related processes has centered on the use of in situ STM and AFM, vibrational spectroscopy, in situ Xray adsorption spectroscopy, and high resolution TEM, the results of which will be discussed.




James F. Stubbins

University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign

Title: "Nuclear Production of Hydrogen: Approaches, Challenges and Rewards"


Nuclear energy is one of the most promising energy sources for the production of carbon-neutral hydrogen.  The most efficient approach is the use of very high temperature gas-cooled nuclear reactors as a heat source for the thermo-chemical production of hydrogen.  The US and partner countries are developing a very high temperature gas-cooled reactor as the next generation nuclear plant (NGNP).  In Japan, the High Temperature Engineering Test Reactor (HTTR) has been running routinely.


While this advanced nuclear technology has the promise for highly efficient production of hydrogen, the efficiency of the thermo-chemical processes is dependent on reaching very high temperatures.  The combination of aggressive environments and limitations with mechanical properties at very high temperatures present a major challenge for the large-scale development of these systems.


This presentation provided a brief overview of the major advantages and challenges for nuclear-produced hydrogen.

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