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Global Aqua Innovation Center (COI) mainly based on International Center for Science and Innovation at Shinshu University (AICS)

Toward a society in which everyone has access to sufficient water supplies

Shinshu University research results in the fields of carbon and fiber materials, as well as production technologies offered by corporations in Nagano Prefecture and other parts of the region, are put to use in collaborative projects between the University, industry and government. The University has been designated as a "Global Aqua Innovation Center for Improving Living Standards and Water-Sustainability" (COI=Center of Innovation) under a national project that will last up to nine years.
The project was proposed jointly by Shinshu University, Hitachi, Ltd., Toray Industries, Ltd., Showa Denko K.K., the National Institute for Materials Science (NIMS), and Nagano Prefecture. In October 2013, the University was chosen as one of the 12 initial project sites (there are currently 18).
The International Center for Science and Innovation at Shinshu University (AICS), located on the Nagano (Engineering) Campus in Wakasato, Nagano City, serves as the central facility for these endeavours. In order to address predicted future water shortages around the world brought about by the expected global population increase to more than eight billion by 2030, AICS researchers are steadily pursuing a range of new, innovative measures and projects with the goal of realizing a society in which everyone has access to adequate water supplies.

International Center for Science and Innovation at Shinshu University (AICS)

Under the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology's "Projects that Establish International Scientific Innovation Hubs in University-Industry Collaborations" (initiated in FY 2012), the International Center for Science and Innovation at Shinshu University (AICS) was established on the Nagano (Engineering) Campus. Intended to serve as a center of innovation, AICS is also an environmentally-friendly facility incorporating 21 environmental measures including solar panels and fuel cells to provide electric power. Through these measures, AICS aims to reduce CO2 emissions by about 50%.

Open innovation under one roof

The "Institute of Carbon Science and Technology (ICST)" and "Center for Energy and Environmental Science" that are part of Shinshu University's unique Interdisciplinary Cluster for Cutting Edge Research (ICCER) are situated in the project laboratories on the 6th and 7th floors. In addition, researchers from Shinshu University and other research institutes and related companies work together in an office on the 3rd floor that has no individually allocated desks with the aim of thereby creating the kind of open working environment that is conducive to innovation. A total of 16 rental laboratories are available on the 4th and 5th floors for use by research institutes and companies.

Measurement and analysis evaluation equipment and numerical analysis equipment

In support of the project, the laboratories at basement level 1 and on the ground floor were fully equipped with various general-purpose measurement and analysis evaluation equipment and the first supercomputer system (made by Fujitsu) to be installed in a provincial university. Some devices are "shared" and available for use by other research institutions and private companies.

Our three water source targets

Our focus includes: 1) the abundant supply of seawater that accounts for over 97% of water found on earth; 2) water produced in conjunction with the extraction of petroleum and other resources; and 3) brine found in lakes or underground. Desalination and material separation technology based on water separation membranes composed of nanocarbons will enable not only the desalination of seawater to become widely established but also produced water to be treated and brackish lake and pond water to be desalinated, along with the recovery of valuable resources.

Technologies for Realizing Future Visions

Japanese companies dominate the global market for high-polymer, standard-type reverse osmosis (RO) membranes made using macromolecules--these are, in fact, traditionally one of Japan's most well-known products. However, the large amounts of energy required by high-pressure pumps leads to increased costs, hindering the widespread introduction of RO membranes in developing countries. This is why Shinshu University is working toward the practical deployment of revolutionary RO membranes made using nanocarbons, a field in which the University excels. Nanocarbon-based RO membranes have the potential to be highly useful in developing countries and other such locations as a seawater desalination technology able to solve water shortage problems. The University is also hoping to develop even more advanced membrane alternatives and thus improve purification performance still further.

Shinshu University, Hitachi, Ltd., Toray Industries, Inc., Showa Denko K.K., National Institute for Materials Science, and the Nagano Prefectural Government

[Participants] (as of June 2016 (in no particular order))
Institute of Physical and Chemical Research (RIKEN), Research organization for Information Science and Technology, Kitagawa Industries Co., Ltd., Toclas Corporation

[COI-S (satellite center)]
Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology (JAMSTEC)

[COI-S participants (as of June 2016 (in no particular order))]
Sony Computer Science Laboratories, Inc., University of Tokyo, Chuo University, and Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA)

Mobilizing the capabilities of universities, research institutions, private industry and local governments throughout Japan

The development of innovative water desalination and reclamation systems for society will require the merging of the world-class technologies possessed by Japanese companies, universities, and other research organizations. In addition to a team led by Professor Morinobu Endo, who is renowned for his nanocarbon research, other cutting-edge researchers and engineers from the National Institute for Materials Science, RIKEN, Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology (JAMSTEC), Hitachi,Ltd., Toray Industries, Inc., Showa Denko K.K., Kitagawa Industries Co., Ltd. and Toclas Corporation are participating in the project.