Materials Development for Net Zero Emission (Reviews and Prospects of ICEF 2017 Concurrent Sessions)

Posted by Itaru Yasui November 24, 2017 Honorary Adviser, National Institute of Technology and Evaluation(NITE)

Session background and objectives:

・The relation between materials and energy ranges diversely from, for example, improving energy efficiency through the development of new structural materials (e.g. weight reduction or engine combustion efficiency improvement by high temperature resistant alloys) to improving battery capabilities by developing new electrolytes.

・In this session, firstly, while keeping energy and CO2 emission reductions issues in mind, we will provide an overall look at possible material development innovations in energy related materials.

・Besides, new material development that utilizes the computer sciences, known as material informatics, is receiving a lot of attention. Increasing rates of development through innovations of common foundation technologies such as data platforms and AI will also be focused on. In addition, we will discuss the potential and challenges for international cooperation.


Presentations and Discussions:

The first speaker was Professor Kohei Uosaki of NIMS (National Institute for Materials Science), and he covered our current needs in a very detailed and useful manner. However, some new entries to his list will be desirable in discussions on innovations needed by around the year 2050. Of course, his list is very useful as the basis of the next ICEF’s material-related session. The chair would like to add completely new categories of materials; for example, a category including materials that can change various physical properties. One of the applications of such a material would be as a material for the roofs of houses, changing its reflectance depending on the temperature outside. Through this, we will be able to substantially reduce energy needed for cooling and heating.

The second speaker was Dr. Aziz Asphahani, CEO of US venture company QuesTek International. With only a small number of researchers in the company, they have succeeded in the development of high strength materials, used mainly for aircraft applications. Their method relies on the combination of a calculation model using DFT (Density Functional Theory) and small-scale experiments. In fact, it has brought about the development of super high strength steel and also the improvement of several kinds of high temperature materials, which are used for turbine blades. The chair felt that this company QuesTek is utilizing a futuristic methodology to design improved materials.

The next speaker was Hitachi Chemical's Dr. Takahiro Onai. The title "Magic Powder Will Save the Earth" is a very attractive one. Illustrated examples were “Black Powder” (negative electrode material from Li batteries) and “White Powder” (CO2 absorbent). A computerized methodology was utilized to improve their properties.  In the case of “White Powder”, they utilized first-principles calculations or artificial intelligence methods for its design.

The final presentation by Dr. Fabrice Stassin was the story of the initiative known as EU EMIRI (Energy Materials Industrial Research Initiative) founded in 2012. A considerable number of companies, including two Japanese companies Asahi Glass and JSR Micro, are participating. It is understood that the objective of EMIRI is to make clean energy and automobiles a reality, and also to secure employment in the EU. 

Creating a new class of materials to realize environment and energy innovations is a global and urgent issue. For example, in the case of batteries, the capacity (Wh) per weight (kg) is now about 90 (in a cell alone) but it must be increased up to about 235. In addition, the goal to have a battery lifetime of 10,000 cycles will be set at 2030.



This is the first time to have a concurrent session discussing the topic “Materials for Net Zero Emission” in the history of the ICEF. Owing to the excellent presentations, I believe participants were able to confirm that the development of materials must be the first innovation towards realizing the goal of Net Zero Emission in the latter half of this century.