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New technologies for using thermal energy in environmentally friendly ways

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The Sato Laboratory is doing research to help making society more friendly to nature, through technologies for using thermal energy based on thermophysical properties of fluids. The researchers are designing energy and environmental systems that conserve energy while helping to answer the question: How can people exist in harmony with the natural world?

Q. "First of all, were considering how we can combat global warming. Renewable energy sources, such as solar and wind power, are used very little. Were considering how to change the structure of society so renewable energy can be utilized more. Specifically, we consider questions like what to do about air-conditioning, which uses energy. How can we create a comfortable environment without using unnecessary energy? Were suggesting a variety of machines and facilities for doing that."

At present, most of the energy we use is heat and electric power. But using these forms of energy inevitably generates waste heat, and CO2 as well. This causes heat islands in cities, and global warming, too.

How can we create a society that exists in harmony with nature? In this context, the Sato Lab is looking at temperature control using vegetation.

The leaves of a tree absorb solar energy, but dont become hot themselves. This is because the tree releases energy without increasing the temperature of its surroundings, through transpiration, where water is taken up by the roots. The Sato Lab has taken a hint from this process to construct systems where, when energy is used, the waste heat is emitted at the same temperature as the surrounding environment. This research involves both experiments and theoretical studies.

Q. "When evaporation is promoted further by using a fan, the temperature of exhaust air is lower than that outside. The waste heat can be disposed of outside at a lower temperature. So what we suggest is air-conditioning where heat is disposed of outside, at a lower temperature than outside, while evaporating water like transpiration from leaves. "

If it becomes the norm to consider the natural environment in ways like this when energy is used, it will be possible to install many facilities for dispersed power (decentralized energy) supply with an easy conscience. The Sato Lab is also considering facilities for utilizing the waste heat produced when generating. The Lab is doing research from an interdisciplinary viewpoint in order to achieve smart energy-supply systems, which use energy efficiently, with different energy sources complementing each other.

Q. "In this field right now, the most essential thing is a balance between doing science from a broad perspective and pursuing ones own field of engineering more deeply. Through exchange of ideas and friendly rivalry among people doing various types of research in the Lab, good results can arise, while bringing different aspects of science together at the same time. Thats the sort of situation were aiming for here."
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