The Multiscale Science and Engineering for Energy and the Environment Thrust pulls together the range of challenges facing Japan’s and the world’s energy transition, namely the transition from largely fossil fueled energy technology to a carbon-neutral or a carbon-free energy supply. In addition, this Thrust enables the coordination of carbon reduction technologies, energy efficiency technologies, and guidance for social, political, and investment strategies to coordinate this transition.
Our thrust includes the following 4 main clusters;
- 1. Carbon capture technologies based on membrane separation for zero and negative emission
We are developing technologies for CO2 capture based on membrane separation, which is considered to have the lowest capture energy. In order to control global warming, CO2 is not only captured from large-scale emission sources, but also CO2 from (1) air and (2) exhaust gas with diluted CO2 by membrane separation for negative emission, and CO2 removal at biogas upgrading. We are also considering modularization along with the development of these technologies. The specific research topics include:
- Direct Air capture (CO2 capture from the atmosphere)
- Diluted CO2 capture
- CO2 separation over N2 for post-combustion CO2 capture
- CO2 separation over H2 for pre-combustion CO2 capture
- CO2 separation over CH4 for biogas upgrading
- 2. Carbon storage & management using the earth
As CO2 reduction approach using the earth, CO2 geological storage that directly injects CO2 into the subsurface reservoir has been recognized. By considering (1) amount of CO2 reduction, (2) time to achieve CO2 reduction and (3) cost for CO2 reduction, CO2 reduction and managements using the earth could be one of realistic approaches. The specific research topics include:
- Modeling of stored CO2 (e.g., mineralization process)
- Develop continuous monitoring system for safe CO2 storage or geothermal development
- Model pore geometry using mathematics and AI for elastic/hydraulic property prediction
- Distinguish natural earthquake and CO2 injection induced earthquake
- Investigate multiscale CO2 behavior from molecular- to reservoir-scale
- 3. Energy efficient technologies
To contribute toward the world’s energy transition, we are working on the development of energy efficient technologies, which includes heat mass transfer enhancement in adsorption systems, development of low-temperature thermally powered adsorption heat pump/refrigeration system and biofuel and edible protein production and negative CO2 emissions. The specific research topics include:
- Synthesis and characterization of activated carbon-based composite adsorbent.
- Synthesis and characterization of MOFs.
- Heat mass transfer and thermodynamic analysis of adsorbent bed and its geometry.
- Analysis of adsorption cycles.
- Development of compact adsorption heat exchangers.
- Theoretical and simulation of hybrid heat pump cycles.
- Modelling of growth conditions and quantitative analysis for biomass growth.
- Impact of physical parameters for biomass production.
- Optimization of algae growth for industrial production.
- 4. Socio-techno-economic and policy analysis
In order to progress an energy transition which incorporates and develops technologies which can effectively deal with climate change, there is a need for analysis of technical, economic and social aspects. I2CNER is progressing this analysis across the spectrum of available technologies, with a focus on the technologies being developed within I2CNER. In addition to the evaluation of the technical aspects such as technological applicability and efficiency, we also consider their economic and social merit. The analytical approaches which we undertake include modeling, systems analysis, statistical analysis, applied mathematical analysis, social surveys and stakeholder engagement. Our current research themes include:
- Energy transitions
- Techno-economic analysis of carbon management
- Global Hydrogen and energy system modeling
- Hydrogen fuel station research
- Applied math for energy