Creating Value for the Future
Message from General Director of Corporate R&D
General Director of
Corporate Research &
The Corporate Research & Development is responsible for developing new technology, one of the main engines for the IHI Group. We have about 700 R&D researchers, engineers and specialists mainly at two sites, the Yokohama Office at Yokohama
(Kanagawa Prefecture) and the Toyosu Head Office in Tokyo's
We have two missions. The first one is to respond any technology demand in the IHI Group. Typically this involves not only creating new products but also services as well as making them more valuable. We also look ahead and create new technology that will be required in the future.
The demands and expectations of the market are changing day by day; time flies like an arrow. Also our products such as the factory equipment and public infrastructure that we have supplied are used for long years, sometimes more than 100 years. Designing for reliability for long term shall be IHI group’s responsibility. In order to satisfy the both competing requirements of ever-evolving expectations and long-term durability, we develop wide range of technology and evolve it to the latest version. Global-Class engineers researchers, and specialists are necessary to achieve this aim. We have been grateful to our friends for many years companies, universities and research institutes over the world. We also will be walking a long and winding way with friends whom we will meet in the future as well. Working with talented, highly trained researchers, engineers and specialists in the world are the life blood of the IHI Group. On a global scale, we need friends—even if not all of them work for IHI!
In line with our corporate philosophy “Using technology to contribute to the development of society”, developing new technology is the fundamental basis of our operations and indeed, as our core value to society. The quest for new technology represents the driving force behind the commitment and dedication of each and every employee, and the means to realize the dreams of the world.
IHI Technology Strategy
The 2016 Technology Strategy for the IHI Group sets out the shared medium to long term objectives of technology development throughout the Group. To achieve the strategy goal, "energy management" and "intelligent machinery and equipment" are nominated as the two key focusing areas for the future.
In the energy management field, it is important to develop the technology for renewable energy with minimal environmental impact, as outlined in the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
We need to find ways to reduce the environmental burden of existing energy infrastructure, while at the same time developing more environmentally friendly energy sources such as hydrogen and ammonia, algae-based biofuels, and tidal energy.
A Future Based on Technologies
Generating new energy aimed at realizing a low-carbon society
In order to reduce greenhouse gases for preventing global warming and realizing a sustainable low-carbon society, we are engaged in the research and development of new energy.
Hydrogen-ammonia value chain
In the future, amid increasing electric power demand
around the world, it goes without saying that balancing the
convenience of living and global environmental protection
requires changing an energy source.
As one of the solutions to this issue, hydrogen is increasingly used as a clean energy source that does not emit CO2 during its use. To expand the use of hydrogen, it is necessary to develop infrastructures that allow users to easily access hydrogen. We will manifest our group’s overall ability to build a value chain that connects activities ranging from producing hydrogen to using it.
Currently, hydrogen is mainly produced by heating natural gas and petroleum, and in during the production process, CO2 is emitted. To resolve this issue, we are striving to develop a method for efficiently electrolyzing water by using unused waste heat as well as renewable energy such as photovoltaic power generation. Furthermore, in Indonesia, we are proceeding with demonstrating technology for producing hydrogen from biomass by means of the twin IHI gasifier TIGAR®.
Hydrogen is less likely to liquefy and likely to make metal fragile; therefore, the high cost to transport and store it has become an issue. As a carrier for efficiently transporting hydrogen, we are focusing on using ammonia (NH3), which is converted from hydrogen.
Ammonia has high hydrogen content per volume and is likely to liquefy. In addition, ammonia has been distributed as a fertilizer or chemical raw material and its transportation infrastructure has already been developed, providing a big advantage for implementing in society. To realize a hydrogen society early on with minimal capital investment, we are also focusing on developing technology for using ammonia in various scenarios.
As part of using ammonia, we are striving to use it as fuel for boilers and gas turbines. Since ammonia, as with hydrogen, does not emit CO2 during its use, it is possible to reduce CO2 emissions by using ammonia instead of coal and LNG.
We have established a technology for stably burning ammonia while suppressing the production of NOx (nitrogen oxide). Going forward, we will accelerate our efforts to commercialize this technology by field-testing power generation by 2-MW class gas turbines as well as carrying out co-firing tests with ammonia injected in coal boilers and other tests.
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Concept drawing of hydrogen-ammonia value chain
Since 2011, IHI has been collaborating with Chitose Laboratory
Corp. and Gene & Gene Technology to develop an algae biofuel,
named MOBURA, as an energy substitute for fossil fuels.
In the production of conventional biofuels, ethanol is produced by saccharifying and fermenting food materials such as corn and sugarcane. Algae biofuel, however, is produced by collecting and refining oil that is produced by the non-food algae, so there is no impact on the food market. Moreover, the algae absorb CO2 as they multiply, so they also help to combat global warming. The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) has set a goal of halting further increases in CO2 emissions from 2020 onward (Carbon Neutral Growth 2020), so sustainable biofuel such as MOBURA is expected to play a significant role in the achievement of this goal.
Using an alga called Botryococcus, IHI is developing ideal varieties suitable for industrial production as well as devising optimal production processes. To support efforts to accelerate practical application, Japan’s New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization (NEDO) has been supporting IHI since 2012. In 2015, stable cultivation of algae was achieved at a test facility equipped with a 1,500 m2 culturing pond in southern Japan. In April 2017, IHI was commissioned by NEDO to participate in the Technology Development of Full-Scale Manufacturing Process for Biojet Fuels project. Going forward, aiming to convert MOBURA into biojet fuel, IHI will construct an extra-large cultivation facility overseas and proceed with initiatives to demonstrate long-term continuous operation and reduced production cost.
Ocean current power generation
Japan, a seafaring country surrounded by sea on all sides, is
being required to accelerate use of marine renewable energy
in terms of response to global warming and energy security.
As such, we envisioned a large-scale power generation farm
in which turbines floating on water are turned by the energy of
ocean current such as the Japan Current flowing along Japan’s
coast to generate electric power, and with support from NEDO
since 2011, we have been engaged in the technical development
of an ocean current power generation system. As ocean energy
is less subject to seasonal and temporal variations, it is possible
to generate power at high facility operation rates of at least 60%
throughout the year.
The ocean current power generation system at the practical use stage is a large structure with a floating part 100 meters wide, a turbine blade with a diameter of approx. 40 meters and weighing 1,000 tons. Each system generates electric power of 2,000 kW. In manufacturing this system, our proprietary technologies including manufacturing techniques of floating bodies accumulated from our ship building business as well as material technologies and processing technologies developed in our aircraft engine and rocket business have been leveraged. Furthermore, employing the self-control function technology that maintains the correct posture by perceiving the surrounding condition and floats the system to the sea surface in case of emergency enables a stable and secure power supply.
In July 2017, we completed a 100kW demonstration machine. This machine was named Kairyu and was chosen from submissions for the name from elementary school and junior high school students in Toshima Village in Kagoshima Prefecture. We conducted the world’s first field test of a floating-type ocean current power generation system in the 100kW class in the waters off Kuchinoshima Island (Kagoshima Prefecture), and we successfully generated power. We will leverage the success of this test looking to put this system, which efficiently and economically uses ocean current energy, into practical use in 2020.
A world in which people and machines work together
We can generate new value propositions in products and services by using AI, robotics and other advanced technologies as well as the IoT, where various things are connected via the Internet.
Generating social value from Big Data
The IHI Group is working on new services that use the common
platform, ILIPS. By analyzing operational data from industrial
machinery installed at customer premises, we can generate
optimal operation schedules and other recommendations
designed to maximize operating consistency and productivity.
The IoT Edge Processing Device under development represents a further extension of ILIPS featuring IoT and AI technology. Preceding the usage of the Internet or public telephone lines, the edge computing process analyzes huge volumes of operating data generated by nearby industrial equipment and extracts the salient information and attributes at high speed. Incorporating edge computing into ILIPS generates more value by processing more data quickly. In this way, the IHI Group generates genuine social value from Big Data by IoT and AI technology.
Robotics Intelligent machines will transform manufacturing and the workplace
At IHI Group, we have a vision of the future where humans and
machines work together with complementary abilities and qualities.
In the manufacturing sector, simple tasks such as transportation and welding have already been robotized to boost productivity and compensate for labor shortages. But at IHI, we believe that more complex tasks such as assembly and machining can also be automated by truly intelligent industrial machinery and intelligent industrial machinery replaces skilled workers. After a human operator teaches a robot the skills and techniques used to perform a certain task, the resulting learning data can instantly be copied across to multiple robots, generating significant efficiency improvements.
Furthermore, the learning is preserved as data and will never be lost. IHI is also working on an unmanned (automated/remotely controlled) system designed for outdoor applications and disaster response tasks, as well as for working underwater or in inaccessible spaces. The system consists of multiple intelligent machines that are remotely monitored and controlled from a protected control room.
The Robo QS, developed by IHI in a joint project together with Fujita Corporation and the Kyushu Technology Office of the Kyushu Regional Development Bureau of the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism, represents the first step towards the unmanned system. In 2017, the Robo QS was fitted to the operator’s seat of an industrial backhoe digger and successfully completed a number of tasks via remote control. This technology has considerable potential for post-disaster response tasks, which can be dangerous.
We hope to boost development in which our systems will be used as part of social implementation such as the figures below by 2020.
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Drive innovation in IHI Group through the collaboration with customers
The IHI Group is to promoting the innovation based on shared ideas to create new value with companies, universities and research institute in Japan and around the world.
Promoting innovation driven by IHI Tsunagu Lab.
IHI Tsunagu Lab., IHI Innovation Centre, was launched in
2014 as the hub for open innovation of IHI Group. It has
already hosted more than 7,000 visitors over the first three
Innovation is like a process of fitting together the pieces of a jigsaw puzzle such as technologies and many other types of aspects. As we search for the missing pieces, we hold technology seminars actively for matching our needs and solutions with external organizations. We also hold Sessions with people from various businesses are to inspire the future of society and businesses. The Sessions provide us an opportunity to inculcate innovative mind and to discuss what needs to be done now for the future.
Promoting innovation driven by Technological Attachés
The dispatch of Technological Attachés has been started since 2007. They work as the liaison of technology information in four key locations: London, New York, Silicon Valley and Singapore. Their role is to cultivate global R&D networks with companies and universities, and to promote the innovation basing on a unique perspective in their each region.
＜Technological Attachés for the United States of America (Since 2007)＞
The Technological Attachés based in North America are focusing on strengthening networks in the fields of ICT, robotics and renewable energy, which are currently most attractive for inventors in the United States at the moment. They are also promoting collaboration to create.
＜Technological Attachés for Europe (Since 2007)＞
The Technological Attachés for Europe are focusing on collaborative arrangements with universities and research institutes that are working on cutting-edge technology research and production systems. They are also promoting research into revolutionary materials, advanced production and testing systems.
＜Technological Attachés for Asia-Oceania (Since 2011)＞
The Technological Attachés for Asia-Oceania is evolving closer ties with the Agency for Science, Technology and Research in Singapore by conducting joint development projects which are lined to commercial applications directly. For example, it can be included, field testing of a 3-D Laser Radar with positioning and object configuration, production line automation and monitoring systems.
IHI creates innovation to solve the technological challenge in the society, promoting innovation by IHI Tsunagu Lab. and Technological Attachés.