Purpose of the Research

Shifting to carbon-neutral energy society is globally required important subjects. I²CNER will contribute to realize carbon-neutral society by required novel sciences and also open new research field by interdisciplinary research. On the other hand, securing energy to support a prosperous life is an important global issue and I²CNER will propose social system which uses renewable energy by converting to hydrogen or hydrocarbons synthesized from CO2 captured and lead to establish a carbon-neutral society.

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 October 2020, the Japanese government 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).

By fully making use of the international network we have established to date, we are 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 pull together the cutting-edge basic research that contributes to the carbon-neutral energy.

Kyushu University also has a strategic partnership with the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where I2CNER has a satellite institution to promote collaborative research beyond the energy science.

In February 2024, a memorandum of understanding (MOU) was signed amongst Kyushu University, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, and National Taiwan University to establish a collaborative center to promote exchange in education and research, as well as further strengthen the partnerships.

Kyushu University continues to commit to produce outstanding research accomplishments on energy science and foster world top-level researchers toward the realization of a carbon-neutral energy society based on international collaborations.

Message from the Director

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

Professor Tatsumi Ishihara

International Institute for Carbon-Neutral Energy Research (I²CNER) was established in 2010 as the WPI Institute, the only institute at that time bearing “Carbon-Neutral Energy” as part of its name, and later joined the WPI Academy member in 2020. To date, I²CNER has promoted the societal value of basic research as part of WPI’s “Values for the Future” mission.

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. 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.

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.

I²CNER has focused on the creation of highly efficient conversion technology. As a next step, we newly added rapid conversion as a keyword and cultivate a new academic field by integrating disciplines. We aim to contribute to realizing a carbon-neutral energy society by social implementation of the basic research we have developed as the WPI Institute, and also by novel concepts including a scenario and design for renewable society.