Mitsubishi Research Institute, Inc.

Energy & Environment

The goal is to realize a society where everyone can enjoy clean and sustainable energy.

Sub-themes

At the Innovation Network for Co-Creating the Future, we believe that the following 4 changes will have a significant impact in resolving societal problems in the area of Energy and Environment.

Innovation in diverse energy supply

Social problem

  • Obstacles inhibiting the realization of “3E+S” energy goals

    In terms of energy supply, we should strive to achieve the three "E"s (energy security, economic efficiency, environment) and one "S" (safety) (= 3E + S). Japan currently faces various energy supply problems such as low energy self-sufficiency rate, dependence on oil and gas imports from the Middle East, and increased greenhouse gas emissions.

Issues to be tackled

  • To achieve “3Es+S” energy supply goals

Examples of innovation

  • Development of innovative energy production and conversion technology
    High efficiency thermal power generation, artificial photosynthesis, utilization of unused heat, utilization of new energy resources (algae, methane hydrate, etc.)
  • Development of innovative energy accumulation and storage technology
    Pumping, accumulation/storage energy technology (Storage battery, pumping water, hydrogen etc.)
    Superconducting transmission
  • Advanced operation of energy infrastructure
    Utilization of demand-side assets (VPP, DR, etc.), enhancement of transmission and distribution operations, enhancement of asset management (utilization of drone, image diagnosis, etc.)
  • Advanced operation of energy infrastructure
    Utilization of demand-side assets (VPP, DR, etc.), enhancement of transmission and distribution operations, enhancement of asset management (utilization of drone, image diagnosis, etc.)
    Realization of P2P (peer to peer) trading of electric power using block chains
  • Reduction of coal usage in steel and cement
    Develop manufacturing process technology with energy sources other than coal
    Develop substitute materials that have smaller emissions during their life cycle
    Reduce usage of virgin materials during production by recycling

Innovation in energy efficiency

Social problem

  • Challenges faced by business and household sectors in reducing CO2 emissions.

    The target for CO2 emissions reduction for business and household sectors for 2030 is 40% reduction compared to 2013 levels. This target reduction is larger than for the industrial and transport sectors. To achieve this target, it is necessary to create reduction measures that are cost-effective while maximizing efficiency and preserving levels of comfort.

Issues to be tackled

  • To generate solutions that contribute to CO2 reduction in the business and household sectors

Examples of innovation

  • Development of technology to reduce energy consumption while maintaining user comfort
    Energy management service utilizing IoT (Disaggregation technology, HEMS/BEMS/FEMS etc.)
    Tighter control over air conditioning and lighting (individual air conditioning, automatic lighting control, garments that keep you cool so that no air conditioning is required, etc.)
  • Development of new in-home services based on ICT
    Smart home (Construction of a comfort system utilizing latest ICT, voice technology, etc.)
  • Encouragement of business activities and lifestyles that are less energy intensive
    Make changes to social systems such as introducing daylight savings
    Consider climatic factors when conducting location selection of business facilities (e.g. installation of data centers in cooler regions)
    Passive solar × Improved heat insulation performance
    Improve efficiency in business by utilizing ICT such as through tele-communicating

Innovation for heat energy efficiency

Social problem

  • Problem of slow progress in the effective utilization of heat in the business and household sectors

    Thermal/Heat utilization technology is gradually becoming adopted by large-scale business establishments, but among the small business and household sectors, thermal energy is not effectively utilized.

Issues to be tackled

  • To develop new technologies that utilize renewable sources of energy such as solar and thermal energy

Examples of innovation

  • Development of new technologies that utilize thermal energy
    Tri-generation
    Thermal energy storage device
    Thermal medium transport
    Thermal heat pump etc.

Innovation in material life cycles

Social problem

  • Slow progress in developing better recycling solutions and effective resource use

    There needs to be more progress beyond just using recyclable metals (from urban mines) and rare metals for products such as next-generation automobiles and ICT-related equipment. In addition, there is a need to find economical and sustainable ways of developing forest resources and utilizing biomass resources.

Issues to be tackled

  • To better utilize untapped resources, and to manage existing resources in an innovative way according to the 3Rs (reduce, reuse and recycle)

Examples of innovation

  • Horizontal recycling/Enhancements to recycling
    Recycling based on sensor/robot technology
    Low cost recycling and refining of nonferrous and rare metals
  • Enhancement of use of biomass resources
    Develop efficient forest management technology
    Utilize cellulose nanofiber, materials with high fire resistance and high strength
    Develop technologies to utilize sewage sludge, garbage, livestock feces, etc.

Past Finalists

  • 2017 Part1 “Energy & Environment” Challenger Award
    Extending life-span of carpet tiles involving handicapped workers

    Japan Carpet tiles Reset Association (JCRA)

    While carpet tiles are usually replaced and disposed of after only a few years in Japan, JCRA invented a new washing process that extends the life-span of carpet tiles, resulting in the reduction of replacement costs and waste. Its simplified process enables people with intellectual disabilities to participate in the task.
    The applicants developed the idea based on their unique knowledge and expertise gained through years in the cleaning business. The idea is also unique in that it may contribute to an increase in job opportunities for the intellectually handicapped.
    More [In Japanese]

Application Details

  • Benefits for Competition participants

    About mentoring by MRI scientists with expert knowledge in the various fields, cash award and supplementary awards.
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  • Screening process

    About the competition procedure and criteria for participation.
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  • Schedule

    About the schedule from the period between the application deadline and the final screening.
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Other-themes

The following themes will also be considered for this program:

Business proposals may also be submitted for multifaceted social issues that involve several focus areas.

Note: business proposals focusing only on infrastructure technologies (e.g. AI and blockchains) will not be accepted.