2nd Symposium of Global Aqua Innovation Center for Improving Living Standards and Water-sustainability on February 4, 2015

Approximately 200 people gathered to discuss the latest trends in R&D and social needs

Shinshu University's Global Aqua Innovation Center held its 2nd Symposium on February 4, 2015 at the Hotel Metropolitan Nagano in Nagano, with the participation of approximately 200 people from Nagano Prefecture and elsewhere. Held one year after the previous February's inaugural symposium, this year's symposium served as an opportunity for leading researchers in water-related fields to gather under one roof and discuss the latest trends in R&D and social needs related to water desalination and reclamation.

Commenting on the selection of Shinshu University's Global Aqua Innovation Center for the government's COI program, guest speaker Yasuo Kishimoto, Deputy Director of the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology's Science and Technology Policy Bureau, said, "We have high hopes that Shinshu University will produce results of worldwide significance." Hitachi Adviser Masaharu Sumikawa, Visionary Leader of COI Vision 3, said, "I look forward to seeing steady progress being made on the creation of highly efficient and durable carbon membranes."

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Speaking next as guest lecturer, Japan Water Research Center President Shinichiro Ohgaki (University of Tokyo professor emeritus) explained the latest trends in the development of innovative technologies and systems for sustainable water use, closing his talk with the comment that "A very wide range of knowledge and expertise is required to drive innovation in water use and water resource-related technologies and systems. Deep insight into the workings of society is also a must. Nothing can be accomplished without the earnest cooperation of a great many researchers and professionals in diverse fields."

Toray Industries, Inc. Fellow Masaru Kurihara spoke about the 50-year history of R&D in reverse osmosis membranes used for seawater desalination, and about the achievements of the Mega-ton Water System, a project to develop practical, eco-friendly systems for large-scale desalination, for which he served as Senior Scientific Director under the Japanese government's Funding Program for World-Leading Innovative R&D on Science & Technology (FIRST). "The important thing―and this is also Toray's R&D creed―is to learn from history, put theory into practice, and above all else, dig deep to probe the limits and make discoveries," he said.

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Professor Hiroaki Tanaka of Kyoto University Graduate School of Engineering's Research Center for Environmental Quality Management (RCEQM) spoke about the broad potential of reclaimed wastewater. Describing a research project that he led in the city of Itoman in Okinawa Prefecture that involved using reclaimed wastewater for agriculture, he said, "Reusing urban wastewater requires wise choice of the target district, scale of reclamation, and the reclamation method used."

Hitachi Infrastructure Systems Company Executive Technical Advisor Shinjiro Ueda, the Aqua Innovation Center Project Leader, spoke about the deployment in society of seawater desalination plants and produced water and brine treatment systems that the Center aims to develop, saying, "Carbon membrane R&D's time has come, and we'll be doing our utmost to produce results." Shinshu University Distinguished Professor Morinobu Endo, Global Aqua Innovation Center Research Leader, reported on the latest research achievements and reiterated his determination to "drive a second wave in carbon innovation following carbon fiber by developing carbon membranes that can replace the polymer-based water separation membranes currently in use."

Shuji Oishi, Director of International Center for Science and Innovation at Shinshu University, revealed that construction of the Center, which is being built under the Japanese government's Center of Innovation Program, will be completed by the end of March 2015. He said that the facility will be used as a core institution for the COI project, and other industry-academia-government research collaborations.