According to The Asahi Shimbun, a team of Japanese researchers at Kyoto University has created a material capable of storing the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide with one of the main ingredients being carbon dioxide itself.
A major problem with utilizing the heat-trapping gas until now has been that high temperature and pressure was needed to synthesize it.
But the team, led by Satoshi Horike, an associate professor of chemistry, created the new material under normal conditions, which could lead to a reduction of one of the major causes of global warming.
“It was been difficult to utilize carbon dioxide, but we have managed to create a new material under very simple conditions,” Horike said. “We want to pursue our research to develop technology that can contribute to alleviating environmental issues, such as storing large volumes of carbon dioxide.”
The group used an amine, a compound consisting of nitrogen, which is known to react easily with carbon dioxide as the link to create a lattice structure within the porous material. A solution was made by mixing the amine with zinc, a cheap metal that allowed greater stability in the structure of the new material.
According to The Asahi Shimbun, Kawasaki Heavy Industries Ltd., which currently produces only gas-powered motorcycles, announced that all of its main models sold in Japan and Western markets will run on electricity by 2035.
The announcement marked the first time the company has specified a date for making its motorcycles go electric.
The company has not decided on whether it will establish new brands or produce electricity-powered versions of its current models.
Kawasaki Heavy Industries said it will develop electric-powered models and hybrid models powered by electricity and gasoline. It plans to market 10 or more types of such models in developed nations by 2025.
According to The Asahi Shimbun, Honda Motor Co. is boldly going where no other Japanese automaker has gone before: outer space.
The company announced plans to branch into the space sector that include putting robots on the moon and developing technology so humans en route to Mars can live there.
Its first goal is to develop a rocket that can launch a satellite within the next decade.
The company, whose corporate philosophy has long encouraged coming up with new ideas by thinking outside the box, is the first domestic automaker to express an interest into blasting off into the space sector.
Honda officials said they were considering developing avatar robots capable of operating on the moon.
According to The Asahi Shimbun, this northern city that was heavily damaged by the 2011 tsunami is now looking to generate renewable energy by harnessing the power of the sea.
A local breakwater rebuilt after sustaining damage in the aftermath of the Great East Japan Earthquake will become the site for the new wave power project.
When the waves move up and down vertically and diagonally, they will send air through a duct. That air will rotate a turbine generator to produce electricity.
Artificial intelligence will predict and control the strength of the waves so that the generator operates efficiently.
The annual output target is 333,000 kilowatt hours, enough to cover the energy consumption of 83 ordinary households.
According to The Nikkei Asia, a Japanese flying car startup is eager to gain credibility with the public for its sci-fi-like mobility system by forging close ties with local governments and big companies in the western city of Osaka.
Tokyo-based SkyDrive, which is working on an electrically powered vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) aircraft, signed an agreement last week with the Osaka municipal and prefectural governments to promote the industry.
SkyDrive hopes to use the 2025 Osaka World Expo to launch its mobility service, ferrying visitors around by air without the need for large-scale takeoff and landing facilities.
"The Strong leadership of Osaka Prefecture and the City of Osaka is pushing our project forward," said Tomohiro Fukuzawa, chief executive of SkyDrive, at the Foreign Correspondents' Club of Japan on Wednesday, adding that Osaka is likely to be where flying cars first take off in Japan.
"Not only installing eVTOL but also building social acceptance and developing a startup ecosystem in Osaka might be possible under the agreement," Fukuzawa said.
According to The Nikkei Asia, a research team at Japan's Keio University has developed plastic optical fibers that can send information with few or no errors, with potential applications from data centers to self-driving cars.
Fiber-optic cables now used for high-speed data transmission are typically made with glass -- expensive, fragile and difficult to work with. There have been high hopes for plastic as an alternative, but plastic cables generate more error-causing noise that can delay transmission and use more energy.
The fiber developed by professor Yasuhiro Koike's team controls the path of the light traveling within it, scattering it forward to eliminate noise caused by light reflecting in other directions. It was able to transmit signals at 53 gigabits per second in testing, with no need for error correction.
The aim is to make the fibers available commercially as early as 2022.
This technology could reduce data lag in automated vehicles and cut down on electricity consumption by data centers -- a growing issue as more are built worldwide to keep up with the rise in data usage.
According to The Asahi Shimbun, blood pressure can be reduced through a hypertension therapeutic app that provides dietary advice and other health-monitoring features, a clinical trial has shown.
The app, jointly developed by Jichi Medical University and CureApp Inc., runs on smartphones and other devices.
"Treatment with the app can be a significant option for non-drug treatment," said Kazuomi Kario, a professor of cardiovascular medicine at the university who served as clinical trial coordinator.
The app provides advice on reducing salt in the diet and other efforts to improve the user's daily habits by entering daily blood pressure readings, content of meals and the amount of exercise.
CureApp, based in Tokyo's Chuo Ward, submitted an application in May requesting the health ministry to approve production and sale of the app as a medical instrument.
According to The Nikkei Asia, Japan's transportation ministry plans to introduce stricter safety requirements for autonomous vehicles, paving the way for buses and other public transportation that can operate without human drivers in aging, rural communities.
Japan is looking to level 4 automation, which does not require human control and may operate without a wheel or pedals, to provide a mobility solution to remote regions, where transit services are chronically hemorrhaging red ink.
Since level 4 vehicles would need to operate autonomously even in bad weather or in emergency situations, higher safety standards are necessary. The current standards cover only up to Level 3, which is premised on humans taking over driving in emergencies.
According to The Nikkei Asia, to serve drinks at the Dawn Avatar Robot Cafe, Fujita uses a humanoid robot named Tele-Barista. With its two arms, it can grab a mug and prepare a French press coffee much like a human barista. Fujita controls the apron-clad robot using a computer mouse. As her disease progresses and makes it more difficult to move the muscles in her hands, she plans to switch to a control panel that can be operated by tracking her eye movements.
Fujita uses a different, camera-equipped, robot to talk with customers, asking them what kind of beans they would like or suggesting a chocolate to go with their cup of Kenyan coffee. OriHime, as the "avatar" robot is called, is around 20 cm tall and sits on the Tele-Barista's shoulder.
A Japanese flying car with a Ferrari-sized price tag will begin test flights in its home country by next spring, marking its first air miles with a pilot on board.
University of Tokyo-spawned startup teTra Aviation plans to begin testing its single-person electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) aircraft with an operator on board in Japan by March 2022. The Tokyo company has received certification for testing from the Federal Aviation Administration in the U.S. and is conducting tests there without an operator aboard.
The Mk-5, unveiled at an American aviation show earlier in the summer, is just one of the global contenders in flying cars -- a field that has attracted the likes of Uber Technologies, Hyundai Motor, Japan Airlines and Toyota Motor. The plane has a 160 km range and is expected to start at 40 million yen (US$ 360,000).
Preorders have begun, and more than 100 inquiries from potential buyers have already come in, according to the company.
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