Mitsubishi Public Affairs Committee


 
Kirin Brewery: Kirin Taps the Power of the Sun
Mitsubishi Kakoki Kaisha, Ltd. (MKK): New Biogas Plant Tackles Food Waste Problems
NYK Line: A Fellowship with Nature
Mitsubishi Corporation (MC): CO2-Free Engine Powers Up
Nippon Oil Corporation: New Fund Supports Hydrogen Research


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In an effort to contribute to the reduction of CO2 and other greenhouse gases, Kirin Brewery has decided to introduce new solar power systems at its Fukuoka and Yokohama plants, as well as at its Hiroshima brewery. Kirin, which already uses such systems at its Kobe plant and Kirin Beverage's Shonan plant, also plans to introduce the changes at the Toride and Okayama plants by March 2007, thereby bringing the total number of Kirin group facilities utilizing solar power systems to seven.

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Kirin's solar power systems reduce CO2 emissions at its breweries

The main solar panel array (center of picture)

 

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Roof-mounted solar panels

  The system now in use and slated for introduction at the Kobe facility was developed with the support of the field testing division of the New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization (NEDO), a Japanese public R&D organization committed to energy conservation and the development of oil-alternative energy sources. Kirin will provide data and analysis on the long-term use and effectiveness of the system, assisting NEDO to promote the system's widespread use in the coming years.

  The three new solar power systems that are currently being installed in Fukuoka, Yokohama and Hiroshima will produce approximately 50,000 kWh annually, cutting the company's CO2 emissions by 15 tons over the same period.

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Methane storage tank of MKK's new biogas plant

In Japan, municipalities as well as private companies are putting serious thought into how to reduce the country's annual 20 million tons of food and organic waste.
   In addition to new recycling laws and nationwide campaigns for recycling, biogas plants, fueled by discarded organic materials, which release burnable methane gas when fermented, are increasingly numerous and the demand for effective recycling technologies is growing.
   Mitsubishi Kakoki Kaisha, Ltd. (MKK) has developed a new biogas plant technology, which realizes highly efficient thermophilic methane fermentation treatment of food waste after solid matter is first liquefied. Thanks to the liquefaction process and thermophilic fermentation, the plant achieves 15% higher biogas production with a 70% reduction in solid fermentation residue than a conventional (mesophilic) biogas plant.
   Moreover, MKK's new biogas plant requires a fermentation tank only half the size of a conventional fermentation tank. In densely populated Japan, where a small footprint is always favored, this is a significant step towards the creation of more efficient biomass recycling plants that do not take up too much valuable land area.

 

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In cooperation with the nonprofit organization Earthwatch Japan, NYK Line recently wrapped up the spring 2006 NYK Nature Fellowship, a program that helps Japanese college students take part as researchers and support staff members in projects studying the marine environment.
   The program aims to supply human resources to outdoor science projects worldwide. NYK Line hopes its efforts will particularly benefit those programs studying the oceans. Outdoor research programs always require manpower and funding, and the Earthwatch Institute, Earthwatch Japan's mother organization, actively supports these projects by
recruiting some 4,000 volunteers every year from countries worldwide for projects that range from monitoring melting glaciers in the Arctic to preserving koala habitats in Australia. NYK Line has now begun to assist Earthwatch Japan as the doorway for Japanese volunteers who want to join these survey teams.
    "Protecting beauty at sea, on land and in the air" is one of NYK Line's main principles, and the company feels that its important duties as a corporate citizen include helping to raise the environmental awareness of today's young generation who will lead the next generation.

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Mitsubishi Corporation (MC) and the Tokyo Institute of Technology (Tokyo Tech) have recently made a significant announcement—the completion of a first prototype CO2-free engine called the Magnesium Injection Cycle (MAGIC) engine. Although still at the experimental stage, this joint project, initiated in 2005, has developed a prototype that has successfully worked without the need for fossil fuels.

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The Magnesium Injection Cycle engine is powered without using fossil fuels

  Power is generated by the chemical reaction between magnesium and water, which produces high-power steam and hydrogen. The hydrogen is burned at the same time to produce more high-power steam, and the two steam sources power the engine. The new technology produces no carbon dioxide or other harmful emissions and the only by-products from this reaction are water and magnesium oxide. The magnesium is separated from the oxide through a solar-powered laser process and is reused over and over again as fuel. This clean energy cycle, which is supported by solar power, has the potential to steer society away from its dependence on fossil fuels, and could bring about a paradigm shift in the way future energy needs are met.
   The new MAGIC technology is very versatile, and has potential for use in cogeneration, automobiles, ships and many other areas. MC and the Tokyo Tech team believes it will take another three years of further research and experimentation before it is launched for commercial use.

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As a facet of its civic contribution activities, Nippon Oil Corporation has established and begun funding the ENEOS Hydrogen Research Charitable Trust Fund for basic research into hydrogen-based energy sources.
   Hydrogen, now used as a power source in fuel cells, is a colorless, odorless and very abundant chemical element that is widely believed to have high potential as a sustainable, non-polluting energy source. Technically, it can be derived from a large number of sources, notably water and even from fossil fuels, but the technologies to make it viable as an energy source for society as a whole do not yet exist. Areas where new technologies are needed include cost-effective production, transportation and storage. Another issue concerns how to capture, or fixate, the CO2 that may be left over as a by-product of hydrogen production.
   To help solve these issues, the ENEOS Hydrogen Research Charitable Trust Fund will provide a total of ¥50,000,000 each year in stable, long-term funding for independent and leading-edge research. The emphasis will be on basic research that breaks with traditional approaches and produces new scientific theories, creating the seeds of technological advance and contributing to an early arrival of hydrogen-based economies.

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