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Campus Now

Autumn Issue (Jul. 2013)

NEWS REPORT

Research which contributes to world peace and the human happiness

Reporting advanced results from the Waseda of Research

Creating an engine with ultimate efficiency
Discovery of combustion principle

Prototype automotive engine used in the experiment for confirming the new principle

A group of researchers led by Professor Ken Naitoh (Faculty of Science and Engineering) has discovered a revolutionary energy conversion principle (new pressure combustion principle) for creating an engine which possesses more than two times the conventional thermal efficiency potential. This potential is realized as a single unit regardless of size. The new principle was devised through a thought experiment utilizing a new thermal hydraulic theory constructed by Professor Naitoh, through a super-computer simulation, and through a high-speed airstream experiment. Once the effectiveness of the new principle is confirmed, it can be applied to creating new light-weight, high-performance aerospace aircraft, as well as next-generation, high-performance automotive engines.

The maximum thermal efficiency of current automotive engines is about 30%. An automobile with a “reasonably-priced, ultimate-efficiency engine” that possesses a thermal efficiency of 60% or higher for a single unit would enable fuel efficiency which surpasses that of current hybrid vehicles. Additionally, if each household generates power using vehicles that are equipped with the new high-efficiency engine, there is the possibility of improving overall energy efficiency for all of society. As such, the engine would be an innovative solution to current environmental energy issues.

Development of an autonomous mobile environment monitoring robot

6 elliptical wheels enable the robot to easily negotiate surfaces with a maximum height difference of about 18 centimeters, which is half the length of the robot.

The Atsuo Takanishi Laboratory (Faculty of Science and Engineering) and Japan Robotech Ltd. have jointly developed an inexpensive environment monitoring robot which is equipped with a smartphone and is capable of remote operation and autonomous movement. Capable of traversing uneven terrain such as mountains and forests, the robot uses a smartphone and various sensors to gather environmental information such as photographs and data. The robot can perform environmental monitoring while automatically repeating movement and measurement. Also, remote operation is performed using mobile phone circuits, making it possible to operate the robot overseas from Japan.

Large-scale environment monitoring poses the risk of destroying the environment due to the installation and introduction of equipment. On the other hand, small-scale monitoring makes it difficult to conduct a sufficient survey. Use of the newly-developed robot will make it possible to gather a variety of environmental information while keeping environmental load to an absolute minimum. The robot is intended for use in surveys of hazardous materials such as airborne radiation doses and PM2.5. The Takanishi Laboratory is now working to reduce the cost of the robot, conduct demonstration experiment, and realize practical application.

Commercialization of a camera to increase the efficiency of radioactive substance decontamination

Compton camera (including tripod and computer)

A research group led by Associate Professor Jun Kataoka (Faculty of Science and Engineering) succeeded in the practical application of a lightweight and inexpensive “Compton camera” for imaging of gamma rays. The camera combines high sensitivity and practical angle resolution. Development was conducted in cooperation with Shinji Osuka, the Acting Head Researcher at Laboratory No. 1, Central Research Laboratory, Hamamatsu Photonics K.K. The development was part of the Development of Advanced Measurement and Analysis Systems, which is run by the Japan Science and Technology Agency (JST).

Developed to assist in the decontamination of radioactive substances, the camera performs imaging of gamma ray distribution by measuring Compton scattering in which gamma rays collide with electrons inside the scintillators*, lose a portion of their energy, and change their flight path. In an environment of about 3.8 to 9.5 microsievert per hour (equivalent to the uninhabitable areas around Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant), the camera is capable of imaging the accumulation of radioactive substances (hotspots) in just a few minutes. For the time being, the camera will be loaned for monitoring only to municipalities in Fukushima Prefecture which require decontamination. Sales of the camera will start from next year.

*Material which emits fluorescent light when excited by radiation