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Japan: A brief review of the eco-technologies

In mid May the Japanese Government has launched a stimulus package to boost the demand for energy efficient household appliances with a new eco-points system, details of which will be made clear in the next month after the Diet's approval of the supplementary budget for this fiscal year.
The aim seems [en] to be in the wake of the recent attempt to re-launch the image of Japan, home of the Kyoto Protocol, as ‘the’ country of technology which is also environmentally friendly. Also perhaps to mark the differences from the near competitor, China.
Actually, the ‘ecological trend’ itself is not a new phenomenon. For the last few years, in fact, many venture companies have been trying to develop new technologies as well as ‘eco friendly’ materials to use in the everyday life.

While it would not be possible to cover all of the eco-technologies, here are several interesting, new prospects that have been gaining momentum in the past year.

Se-goiken explains the details of some materials developed by Japanese companies (names of which have yet to be revealed), an initiative taken also in many other countries that have been trying to reduce the waste of precious resources.

まずはバナナシャツ。
廃棄物として捨てられるバナナの茎、その数年間10億トンもあり、
そのバナナの繊維と綿をミックスすることで新繊維を生み出すことに成功した。
主にシャツやズポンがすでに開発され、春にはジーンズも発売される。

First, the ‘banana’ shirt.
A Japanese company has succeeded in creating a new fibre by mixing cotton and material made from banana stalks (in the last few years more than 1 billion of stalks has been disposed of as a waste).
They already make shirts and trousers from the new fibre and in the Spring, jeans will be put on the market.

[…]

次は竹。
ベンチャー企業が、竹から繊維を開発するということに成功した。
竹林は成長が早い為、環境への負担が少なく、CO2の吸収量も高い為、
竹林を数多く育てることがそのままエコに繋がるとのこと。
またコスト的にも綿の1/20 程で購入できるメリットがあるようだ。[…]
今回紹介したような技術革命が進んで行けば、日本の将来も暗くはない。

Second, bamboo.
A venture company has developed a fibre made from bamboo.
Bamboo forests grow very fast and with a very little burden on environment because the quantity of CO2 that they can absorb is very high. Just the fact of growing a bamboo forest is eco-friendly in itself. Also the raw material can be bought for 1/20th the cost of cotton.
At present the products made 100% of bamboo seem to be only towels and tissues, or such.
[…] If we continue on the path of innovations in the technological revolution mentioned above, I believe that the future for Japan will be much brighter.


Japan Probe's article (here) explains the content of the video above [en].

Blogger earthfuroshiki introduces a new way of generating energy. An alternative power source, whose first practical utilizations started in 2006 by the now 27 yo President of the venture company of the venture company Soundpower Corporation (音力発電) [ja].

それは「振動によって発電する」という技術

橋や改札などの車や人の行き来が激しく、振動が多い場所にこの発電方式を利用して振動をエネルギーに変えるというもの。

Creating energy from the oscillations means to generate electricity in those places where vibrations are many, for example in those places like bridges or ticket gates where the people and cars coming and going is intense.

実際に『首都高五色桜大橋のイルミネーション』にこの技術が利用されています。昼間に振動によって蓄えたエネルギーを使って日没後から24時まで橋をライトアップしています。
振動が生じる場所にこの技術を用いれば原理的に発電することが可能なので
キーボードのタイプで発電、物の移動による発電など、地産地消ならぬ個産個消も可能と期待も高まっているようです。

This technology is actually being used now as [part of the] illumination Goshiki Zakura Big Bridge in Tokyo. The bridge is lit from sunset to midnight aided by the vibratory energy stored as electricity during the day.
Theoretically it would be possible to generate energy in any place where vibrations occur such as keyboard typing or to objects moving etc. This raises the possibility of producing energy geared to the need rather than producing electricity in abundance.

*Here is a video [ja] by TV-Tokyo that explains how the invention works.

Skyliving (A garden on the roof). By flickr user: pict u re.

Skyliving (A garden on the roof). By flickr user: pict u re.

Lastly, consultant Shimo3781 introduces us to a trend quite common nowadays in the building industry which aims to increase the number of green areas in the cities yet also produce power savings.

温暖化対策の一環として屋上緑化が叫ばれている。
方策の一つとして屋上に芝生を植えたり庭園を設置するものが多い。
ただし土を使う屋上緑化は重量に耐えるだけの建物の強度が必要だ。

One of the measures to help tackle global warming is the greening of the roofs of the existing buildings.
This experiment results in creating gardens growing on the roofs of buildings though this must be restricted to buildings, which can bear the weight of earth used in the planting,

[…]

今日紹介するのはNTT都市開発所有のアーバンネット三田ビルだ。
ここでは屋上緑化にサツマイモを植えた。[…]
エコと野菜の一石二鳥だ。
コンクリートの表面温度が55度のとき、サツマイモの葉に覆われた部分は28度だったというから効果は抜群だ。
ビル内の温度を抑えられるから冷房代が安く抑えられる。
屋上緑化の方法も今後益々多様化していくだろう。

Let me instance the Urban Net Mita Bldg, property of NTT Urban Development Co.
There we grew sweet potatoes in the process of creating a green space. […] Two benefits for the price of one: fresh vegetables as well as energy saving.
Though the temperature of the exposed concrete surface reached 55 degrees, under the sweet potato's leaves the surface temperature was halved to a more reasonable 28 degrees. An outstanding result.
Because this helps to control the temperature inside the building, the air conditioning system will be used less.
[My personal view] is that many new and different methods for the ‘housetop planting’ will be tried from now on.

1 comment

  • Global Voices Online » Japan: A brief review of the eco-technologies…

    [Source: Global Voices Online] quoted: In mid May the Japanese Government has launched a stimulus package to boost the demand for energy efficient household appliances with a new eco-points system, details of which will be made clear in the next month …

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