Developing Environmental Technologies

Aspects Determined as Materiality
  • Emissions

    305-5

Principle and Outline

Technology forms the foundations for the corporate competitiveness of the Daigas Group, and R&D is therefore considered one of the most important corporate strategies for differentiation. With its environmental friendliness and secured procurement and supply, natural gas is expected to play an important role in creating a low-carbon society. To encourage greater use of natural gas and the utilization of renewable energies, the Daigas Group has been actively engaged in R&D on smart energy networks and household fuel cells as well as R&D and practical application efforts for a variety of new technologies that will lead to greater customer convenience and energy-saving behavior.

Efforts to Popularize Independent Dispersed Energy

Smart Energy House

Osaka Gas is working on the development of the Smart Energy House, which is designed to offer comfortable and environmentally friendly living to people by achieving “smart” management of electricity and heat when they are created, stored and consumed. The Smart Energy House runs on three battery — and a residential fuel cell, a solar power system and a storage batteries — a residential and uses IT to achieve the goal. Osaka Gas and Sekisui House Ltd. conducted a living experiment of the Smart Energy House for three years from February 2011. The results of the experiment break down into three main points, which were released after technological studies were conducted to put them to practical use in the future.

  • 1. The experiment conducted under actual living conditions at a 3-cell house (an electric vehicle is used as one of storage batteries) achieved a 103% reduction in CO2 emissions*, an 82% cut in energy consumption and savings of 310,000 yen in utility expenses and fuel costs for the vehicle.
  • 2. The experiment confirmed the functionality of our Home Energy Management System (HEMS), which is said to be effective in ensuring both comfort for residents and long-term energy savings.
  • 3. The experiment also demonstrated that automatic control systems set up in housing facilities, such as electrically-operated shutters and electric curtains, are effective in increasing convenience and comfort for residents.

Osaka Gas developed “a Smart Energy House Storage System,” a small-size and lightweight storage system with a storage capacity of 3.2 kWh. The product, capable of charging electricity generated by Ene-Farm type S, a home-use fuel cell developed by Osaka Gas, was developed based on the utility's know-how on enabling optimal control of the three batteries and a storage system developed by KYOCERA Corp. Osaka Gas began selling the new storage system in April 2017.

  • * Calculation of CO2 emission reduction
    In addition to CO2 emission reduction to net zero, CO2 emissions are expected to be further decreased by another 3% through the use of the three batteries and by exporting electricity generated by the solar cell back to the grid.
■ Smart Energy House Conceptual Diagram
Smart Energy House Conceptual Diagram

Smart Energy Network

A smart energy network forms an energy community by combining a gas cogeneration system, renewable energy, and ICT, and it brings a low-carbon energy system into reality by providing three types of new value: further promotion of energy saving and CO2 emission reduction, enhancement of energy security, and acceleration of the introduction of renewable energy.

In FY2011 to 2013, Osaka Gas participated jointly with Tokyo Gas Co., Ltd. in the “Dispersed Energy Compound Optimization Demonstration Project” of the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI). Osaka Gas successfully completed the demonstration, with cooperation from nine customers.

Also, in the Daigas Group-owned redevelopment area in the Iwasaki district in Nishi-ku, Osaka City, we have built a “disaster-resistant town” and a smart energy network by combining heat supply facilities with a shopping mall, the hu + g MUSEUM (Osaka Gas's facility to disseminate information on food and housing), Kyocera Dome Osaka (a stadium adjacent to the museum), the Osaka Municipal Fire Department, and a general hospital. This network has been in operation since July 2013.

■ Smart Energy Network Conceptual Diagram
Smart Energy Network Conceptual Diagram

TOPIC: Osaka Gas and Sekisui House to Start New Living Experiment at 3-battery House

In anticipation of a society where renewable energy is the main power source, Osaka Gas started a living experiment, working jointly with Sekisui House, Ltd., at a house equipped with three types of batteries (fuel cell, storage battery, and solar cells) (hereinafter, “3-battery house”) for about one year from April 1, 2020, in order to verify to what extent the 3-battery house can contribute to power gird stabilization.

Verification of 3-battery house’s potential contribution to power grid stabilization

We will confirm to what extent the 3-battery house can contribute to power grid stabilization in the following aspects.

  • 1) Operation of the fuel cell and storage battery is controlled in accordance with fluctuations in the power generated by the solar cells of the 3-battery house in order to suppress fluctuations in electricity to be sent to the power grid and thereby minimize effects on the power grid.
  • 2) When power supplied from renewable energy sources, such as solar cells, is excessive in the power grid, the amount of power generated by the fuel cell is reduced and excess power is stored in the storage battery to contribute to maintaining a supply-demand balance in the power grid.
  • 3) With the assumption that the 3-battery house is a resource of a virtual power plant (VPP),* we will check if the 3-battery house can provide adjustability required to maintain the supply-demand balance in the power grid in response to simulated instructions from electric utility companies. We will also assess consequent effects on residents to detect any issues.
Verification of 3-battery house’s contribution to power grid stabilization
  • * Virtual power plant. It is realized by business operators called “aggregators” using, in a bundle, the adjustment power supplied by distributed power sources

Demonstration of peer-to-peer power transactions among residents in NEXT21 begins

Osaka Gas Co., Ltd. began a peer-to-peer power transaction demonstration among residents at the Osaka Gas experimental residential complex “NEXT21”*1 in March 2019. Currently, surplus power generated by distributed energy systems is supposed to be sold to electricity retailers. In the future, customers who own distributed energy systems centered on renewable energy power generation may be allowed to sell and buy generated power without restriction. For the effective management of these transactions, blockchain technology*2 is expected to be used.

In this demonstration, in order to confirm the effectiveness of blockchain technology in peer-to-peer power transactions, we have used the actual living environment of NEXT21 residents and conducted electric power interchange between the dwelling units with residential fuel cells and photovoltaic power generation. If peer-to-peer power transactions become a reality, we can provide new value that meets customer needs, such as directly connecting sellers of electricity of high environmental performance with buyers who want to choose it. Moreover, in case of a power grid outage, we have established an area (microgrid) where power supply continues with a compact distributed power generation system that uses the VSG function.*3 We have also verified whether records of electric power interchange between customers is manageable with blockchain technology in the event of an outage as smoothly as in normal times.

  • *1 “NEXT 21”
    “NEXT 21” was constructed in October 1993 by Osaka Gas to propose an ideal neo-futuristic urban multiple-unit housing under the concept of “Achieving both comfortable and convenient life and energy-saving / environmental preservation. With Osaka Gas’s employees and their families actually living there, NEXT21 has had demonstrative experiments based on themes that fitted with the times. Demonstrative experiments were conducted on a variety of themes, including energy saving for the entire building, its CO2 reductions, greenery restoration and environmental symbiosis in urban areas, ideal forms of residence that reflect diverse lifestyles, and product development. Also, many proposals and presentations that may lead to ideal multiple-unit housing in the future have been made at a time when the liberalization of the energy market has advanced. Some of the proposals have been commercialized.
  • *2 Blockchain technology
    A technology that allows the management of transaction records on distributed servers. It is highly resistant to falsifications and failures, and also holds promise for achieving automated transactions.
  • *3 VSG control
    VSG stands for Virtual Synchronous Generator. In this demonstration, this virtual technology is used to simultaneously operate multiple distributed power generation systems in the microgrid. With VSGs, there is no need to assign a power generator as the control tower for the entire microgrid. The risk of the entire microgrid losing power is therefore lower when a single “control tower” power generator goes down.

Contributing to a Hydrogen Society

Development of hydrogen generators and the establishment of hydrogen filling stations

  • Osaka Gas has developed a compact on-site hydrogen generator, “HYSERVE-300”, which produces hydrogen from natural gas with an output capacity of 300 m³ N/h. The move has been in response to increasing demand in recent years for hydrogen-generating devices for use at filling stations, amid the anticipated spread of fuel cell automobiles, considered to be the ultimate clean car. We have also developed an LPG model, HYSERVE-300P, which went on sale in January 2015.

    In April 2019, Osaka Gas Liquid Co., Ltd., a member of the Daigas Group, began selling HYSERVE-5, a small hydrogen generator with a capacity of 5 m3 N/h per hour. For customers with modest energy needs, hydrogen can be supplied in gas tanks or cylinders known as curdles. However, for those customers located a distance away from a hydrogen manufacturing center or delivery station, the price of hydrogen has tended to be higher, as the delivery cost is higher and systems require tanks to be replaced before the hydrogen is fully depleted. HYSERVE-5 enables hydrogen to be produced efficiently on a customer’s premises in accordance with the volume required. As a result, hydrogen can be supplied at a reasonable price. In addition, a lot of trouble is saved by eliminating tank delivery and hookup. It is expected that the demand for smaller-sized hydrogen generators will increase with the spread of fuel cell forklifts and other hydrogen-powered equipment. Hydrogen can be supplied for such new usages at reasonable prices by introducing the HYSERVE-5 hydrogen generator. The HYSERVE on-site hydrogen production system series offers a wide range of products that meet various customer needs, from small to large sizes and for both city gas and LPG.

    In step with the development of hydrogen-generating devices, Osaka Gas has been conducting empirical research on hydrogen filling stations for their diffusion since FY2002. In April 2015, the company opened Kita-Osaka Hydrogen Station, which is equipped with “a HYSERVE-300” hydrogen generator, in Ibaraki City, Osaka Prefecture. In March 2016, we also opened Kamitoba Hydrogen Station, a movable filling station in Kyoto City. At each filling station, hydrogen generated from city gas is provided to fuel cell vehicles. Osaka Gas will continue to support the creation of a low-carbon society through the establishment of hydrogen-supplying infrastructure and the development and sales of hydrogen generators.
  • ”HYSERVE-300”

    ”HYSERVE-300”

    ”HYSERVE-5”

    ”HYSERVE-5”

    Kamitoba Hydrogen Station

    Kamitoba Hydrogen Station

Utilization of Unused Energy

Biogas purification project in Thailand to supply fuel to natural-gas-powered vehicles

  • Osaka Gas has developed an original biogas purification technology that removes carbon dioxide and other impurities from biogas, aiming to make effective use of biomass resources and contribute to the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. Agriculture of Basin Co., Ltd. (ABC), a Thai company, uses this technology to purify biogas generated in the process of palm oil production, thereby producing high-purity methane gas and supplying it to natural-gas-powered vehicles. Osaka Gas (Thailand) Co., Ltd. is entrusted with the operation of the purification process.

    Since agriculture is one of Thailand's most prominent industries, there is an abundance of biomass resources. These include palm residue, the remnants of sugarcane crushed to extract juice, and food factory wastewater. Natural gas-powered vehicles are also becoming increasingly prevalent in Thailand. Meanwhile, Osaka Gas has been engaged in developing biogas-refining technology since 2012 in the pursuit of effective utilization of unused biogas. The Company is capable of producing high-purity methane gas with the world's highest efficiency in methane recovery at a rate* of more than 99%. It has achieved this through its proprietary hybrid biogas refining system, which combines a CO2 separation membrane with pressure swing adsorption (PSA), a technology that selectively adsorbs and removes CO2.

    We will actively offer services that use these original technologies and contribute to reducing greenhouse gas emissions in Thailand and other countries that have biomass resources.
  • Commercial plant in Thailand

    Commercial plant in Thailand

  • * Methane recovery rate of 99% or higher
    Percentage of methane in high-purity methane gas product relative to methane in biogas from raw material
■ Unique Hybrid Biogas-Refining System Developed by Osaka Gas
Unique Hybrid Biogas-Refining System Developed by Osaka Gas

Development of a high-efficiency methane fermentation system to help resolve waste and resource depletion issues

To contribute to solving the issues of waste reduction and fossil resource depletion, Osaka Gas has developed Methasolution, a high-efficiency methane fermentation system that makes full use of biotechnology. This system uses technology (solubilization) that dissolves raw garbage and other organic waste (biomass) at high temperature (80℃), thereby increasing the methane gas generated by 20% over biomass dissolution by conventional fermentation processes. This technology also works for organic waste with a high content of oil and biodegradable plastics, from which methane fermentation is difficult. This technology can be used to solubilize them, enabling stable methane fermentation.

In 2009, we participated in the Kyoto Biocycle Project, a project for developing technology to combat global warming organized by the Ministry of the Environment and supervised by local governments and universities, which verified the effectiveness of ultra-high-temperature solubilization technology using school lunch garbage and other waste. We will consider the application of this technology to methane fermentation from materials from which methane fermentation is difficult and to methane fermentation from garbage bags and trays made of biodegradable plastics.

Verification test for a small-scale biogasification system

  • Osaka Gas has been working with Daiki Axis Co., Ltd., to jointly develop small-scale biogas devices that biogasify small volumes of food waste economically.

    From the viewpoints of installation space and costs, conventional biogasification systems have been considered impractical to be introduced into food factories and commercial facilities that generate a small amount of food waste of up to about one ton per day. The small-scale biogasification device under development is inexpensive and compact because it uses a general-purpose septic tank as a biogasification tank. Moreover, high-temperature fermentation at 55°C enables the device to process a large amount of food waste, downsizing the device and improving its economic efficiency.

    During the period from FY2018 to FY2019, we conducted the first demonstration test at a food factory and identified technical issues. In FY2020, we started the final demonstration test with a device that had overcome the technical issues, and we are planning to bring it to commercialization by the end of FY2021.
  • Small-scale biogasification device under demonstration test

    Small-scale biogasification device under demonstration test

Commercialization of energy-creating wastewater treatment process

  • Wastewater containing aromatics, which comes from facilities such as semiconductor and chemical plants, has been difficult to process under conventional methods. Combustion treatment is used, but this generates significant CO2 emissions and results in high costs.

    Osaka Gas has developed a method that can break down organic substances in wastewater easily and rapidly by passing high-temperature, high-pressure wastewater through a catalyst specially processed using nickel. In this treatment process, a flammable gas is generated and effectively used to power the boilers and other equipment on-site. Compared to combustion treatment, this method reduces CO2 emissions approximately 110%* and results in wastewater treatment costs that are approximately 40% lower.* The system won the Environmental Minister's Award for Global Warming Prevention Activities in FY2015.
  • Energy-creating wastewater treatment process in commercial operation

    Energy-creating wastewater treatment process in commercial operation

  • * Calculation of CO2 emissions and wastewater treatment cost
    It is the case when processing wastewater amount is 200 m³ per day.
■ Energy-creating Wastewater Treatment Process
Energy-creating Wastewater Treatment Process

Osaka Gas to develop a radiative cooling material that cools in the daytime with zero energy consumption

Efforts in the Life & Business Solutions Business

Method proposed by Osaka Gas to test activated carbon fibers recognized as being harmonious with ISO International Standards

The Association of Fibrous Activated Carbon, of which Osaka Gas is the representative secretary, has drafted test methods for fibrous activated carbon. They have been approved by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) and were published in November 2017 as international standards.

Activated carbon fiber, developed in Japan and now under production by companies including Ad'all Co., Ltd., a Daigas Group company, is a product with excellent removal performance of harmful substances. The method was proposed to the ISO based on the Japanese Industrial Standards we have already acquired, using a fast-track proposal method. As a result, the method was recognized two years after the submission of the proposal, much faster than the period of at least three years required under the normal procedure.

With the diffusion of this method around the world, the function of activated carbon fibers of being able to remove harmful substances is likely to be recognized widely, possibly enhancing trust in products containing such fibers that are marketed in Japan. Consequently, environmental preservation will be promoted with safety and security expected to increase regarding people's lives.

Technology to mitigate air pollution

  • NNC panel installed alongside Route 23

    "NNC panel" installed alongside Route 23

  • Osaka Gas developed the NNC Panel (NOx & Noise Cut Panel), the first of its kind in the world designed to reduce NOx, an air pollutant, and street noise at the same time. The panel, made of carbon materials, has already been installed on soundproof walls erected alongside a section of Route 23 in Nagoya City, marking its first practical use.

    In recent years, health concerns from inhaling PM2.5 (fine particles with a diameter of 2.5 micrometers or less) has grown worldwide. NOx is considered one of the main sources of PM2.5 and effective ways of reducing the chemical compound are being explored. The NNC Panel uses activated carbon fiber (ACF*), which is said to be capable of removing more than 70% of the NOx in the atmosphere and is also durable. ACF used in the panel also functions to reduce noise. ACF is a fine textile with a miniscule diameter of 15 micrometers, a characteristic that enables the fiber to absorb sound. The ability of ACF used in the panel to absorb sound is equal to conventional sound-absorbing materials such as fiberglass.
    The ACF is shaped like pleats because that shape can increase the fiber's contact with the atmosphere. In addition, the structure of the sound-absorbing panel used in the NNC Panel has been upgraded to enable the effective intake of air. As a result, the noise reduction level reached 33.3 dB, far topping the benchmark 25 dB set by NEXCO, while significant air purification was achieved. (A test to measure the sound transmission loss showed that noise was cut by 33.3 dB for sound sources with a center frequency of 400 Hz.)

    Osaka Gas will continue to step up marketing of the NNC Panel through its subsidiary Daigas Gas and Power Solution Co., Ltd., targeting places where atmospheric purification and noise reduction are necessary, such as soundproofing walls on expressways and trunk roads.
  • * Activated Carbon Fiber
    Osaka Gas previously produced gas from coal. ACF is one of the technologies developed by the company to effectively use coal tar, a by-product of producing gas from coal.

Pilot Project for ACF Air Purification Units in the Republic of Indonesia Launched

  • ACF units installed in Jakarta

    ACF units installed in Jakarta

  • Daigas Gas and Power Solution Co., Ltd. (DGPS), a subsidiary of the Daigas Group, started a demonstration project in September 2018 to reduce a roadside air pollutant, nitrogen oxide (NOx), by using an air purification system with activated carbon fiber (ACF) in Indonesia. The project, intended to demonstrate the effectiveness of the system and promote its widespread installation, has been adopted by the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) as one of its Collaboration Programs with the Private Sector for Disseminating Japanese Technologies for the Social and Economic Development of Developing Countries.

    Amid intensified traffic congestion due to rapid economic growth and associated changes in the living environment recently, Jakarta, the capital city of Indonesia, has been facing severe air pollution on roadways. In central Jakarta, for instance, the concentration of NOx, a substance that causes respiratory disease, is nearly twice the level set by World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines.*1 The incidence rate of asthma among children aged 13 to 14 is several times higher than in Japan.*2

    To improve the environment in Indonesia with the ACF air purification technology owned by the Daigas Group, DGPS has applied for the above JICA project, and, after much consultation with the Indonesian Ministry of Public Works and Housing, it has installed ACF units in front of a general hospital on the main national highway*3 in southern Jakarta.

    The system features (1) air purification by using natural wind without using electric power and (2) refreshable NOx removing capacity by hosing with water or naturally by rain, thus providing easy maintenance and long-term benefits and effectively mitigating air pollution in developing countries. With support from JICA, DGPS verified the system’s effectiveness in Indonesia’s tropical environment for one year. Osaka Gas will continue to step up marketing of the system, targeting other places.
  • *1 Jakarta Polices Traffic Directorate, BPLHD Jakarta, 2014
  • *2 International Study Asthma and Allergies in Childhood, 2012
  • *3 Jalan TB Simatupang, South Jakarta, DKI Jakarta Province

Simulation technology developed by Osaka Gas

Development of highly efficient, compact industrial burner required few prototypes

Osaka Gas applies simulation technology in the development of industrial burners in order to enable customers to achieve higher levels of energy efficiency at their own sites. Among the various types of industrial burner, it used to take a lot of time and effort to determine the optimal operating conditions for large industrial burners and to design such burners. Simulation has enabled the prediction of combustion state under various conditions, including burner shapes, making it possible to obtain the optimum solution in a short period of time.

  • Temperature increasing as an item is heated

    Temperature increasing as an item is heated

  • Impulse burner (Example of a recuperative burner)

    Impulse burner
    (Example of a recuperative burner)

Use of predicated power generation at wind farms for the assessment of project feasibility
  • To assess the viability of wind power, you must be able to predict how much power will be generated with a high degree of accuracy and certainty. And since many wind farms in Japan are in mountainous areas, you must be able to predict how the wind will react to the terrain. Osaka Gas has experience in simulations involving predicting how exhaust gas is dispersed from cogeneration systems around buildings and in urban areas. We applied this expertise to predicting the generating amount of a wind farm, a big help in our development of highly efficient, natural energy system.
  • Hirogawa Myojinyama Wind Farm in Wakayama Prefecture

    Hirogawa Myojinyama Wind Farm in Wakayama Prefecture

■ Amount of Electricity Predicted through Simulations and Actual Amount of Electricity
Amount of Electricity Predicted through Simulations and Actual Amount of Electricity
Use of a weather simulation model to forecast energy demand and support operations of renewable energy systems

The consumption of energy such as electricity and gas, and the amount of electricity generated through natural energy sources, such as solar power and wind power, are greatly influenced by weather conditions, prompting Osaka Gas to step up development and implementation of weather simulation technologies.

Osaka Gas uses Weather Research Forecasting (WRF), a weather simulation model developed by a U.S. research laboratory, while combining it with data from the Japan Meteorological Agency’ and weather stations outside of Japan. The Company limits the use of WRF to western Japan regions and forecasts their weather and solar radiation quantity within an area of 2 square kilometers, up to about three days ahead. By using WRF in such a manner, Osaka Gas can obtain more accurate and detailed weather data than that which could be expected from standard weather forecasts. The effectiveness of the system has been proven within the Daigas Group, and in September 2018 approval was obtained from the Japan Meteorological Agency for a system to supply customers with weather information.

  • Example of weather simulation (amount of sunlight)

    Example of weather simulation (amount of sunlight)

  • Example of weather simulation (wind velocity)

    Example of weather simulation (wind velocity)

Development of biodegradable plastic film composed mainly of plant-derived polylactide plastic

  • Osaka Gas has developed biodegradable plastic film by improving polylactide (PLA) to render it soft and extensible.

    PLA is a biodegradable plant-derived plastic, which is traditionally difficult to form (by inflation molding) into a film bag because of its hardness and brittleness. Making use of its long-cultivated resin modification technologies, the Daigas Group has succeeded in producing PLA from which flexible and high-strength plastic films that maintain biodegradability can be manufactured.
    Because of the biodegradable characteristics, the developed PLA plastic has various other applications, including bags for throwing garbage into compost bins, and agricultural multi-purpose film that need not be removed from farming land or incinerated. The PLS plastic film is expected to contribute to resource recovery from waste and reductions in both CO2 emissions and fossil fuel use.
  • Polylactide plastic bag

    Polylactide plastic bag

Development of a 3HB (ketogenesis) biogas process for organic materials that employs bioprocesses

  • Halomonas
  • In a joint project with the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology, Osaka Gas has employed a bioprocess (fermentation) to develop a method of producing (R)-3-hydroxybutyric acid (3HB). 3HB is a bioprocess-specific compound that is difficult to obtain at high purity and low cost in chemical synthesis processes.

    3HB has drawn public attention as a process of ketogenesis. It is synthesized within the human body and has various bioactive functions, so it is hoped that it will eventually be possible to use it for new biological functions. And due to its chemical structure, 3HB is also expected to have potential as a material capable of reducing the environmental impact of medicines, food products, and biodegradable plastics by being used as a new raw material for biodegradable polymers or as a polymer additive.

    The bioprocess we developed employs a unique type of Halomonadaceae bacteria identified by the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology. Aerobic fermentation is used to cause biopolyester (PHB) to accumulate in the cells, after which a switch is made to anaerobic fermentation (culturing the microorganism in the absence of oxygen). This causes the PHB accumulated in the cells to hydrolyze and be released from the bacteria as 3HB.

    By separating, concentrating, and purifying the 3HB released from the cells using conventional methods, we succeeded in producing 3HB with a purity of 95% or more at low cost. Although there have been many reports of bioprocesses being used to accumulate 3HB, it is the first time in the world that 3HB has been efficiently generated and isolated.

Development of fluorene cellulose with potential for use as a heat-resistant plastic filler material

  • Fluorene Cellulose

    Fluorene Cellulose

  • Osaka Gas has developed fluorene cellulose obtained by causing a chemical reaction between a fluorene derivative and the surface of cellulose fibers.

    Cellulose is the most abundant biomass material on the planet, and is the main component of wood and paper. Fiber comprised of cellulose (cellulose fiber) one-fifth the weight of steel yet is five times stronger. In addition, because its linear thermal expansion coefficient* is 1/50 that of glass, it is expected to be usable as a plastic filler material (fiber for strengthening plastic). It would be an alternative to fillers such as glass fiber, and offer superior heat resistance. However, because cellulose fiber is extremely hydrophilic (have a strong affinity with water), it is difficult to combine it with plastic, which is hydrophobic (has a weak affinity with water), which has made it hard to use it as a plastic filler.

    However, by causing a reaction between our own fluorene derivative and the cellulose fiber surface, we have succeeded in developing a fluorene cellulose that is hydrophobic. This fluorene cellulose is easily mixed with plastics such as polylactic acid, and as plastic filler derived from biomass, it offers potential for use as an eco-friendly structural material for home appliances and automobiles.

    This development project is underway jointly with Osaka Gas Chemicals Co., Ltd., which is in charge of commercialization.
  • * Linear thermal expansion coefficient
    This coefficient shows the ratio of the increased length when temperature is raised by 1 degree Celsius compared to the original length.

Development of an environment-friendly material geopolymer concrete

  • Geopolymer concrete being formed at an engineering site from a revolving drum-type mixer

    Geopolymer concrete being formed at an engineering site from a revolving drum-type mixer

  • Osaka Gas is working on the development of geopolymer concrete, which has drawn public interest as a new environment-friendly material.

    Geopolymer concrete, made from fly ash, an industrial byproduct, is known as next-generation concrete. It has stronger acid and heat resistance than conventional concrete materials. Geopolymer concrete is said to be suitable for use in facilities where strong acids are generated, such as sewage plants, and where temperatures are high, such as steel mills. Since it does not use cement, the concrete emits about 80% less CO2 in its manufacturing process. In view of this environmental friendliness, the industry hopes that geopolymer will become significantly disseminated.

    Geopolymer concrete starts hardening faster than other concrete materials, while solidification at high temperatures is necessary for its strength to reach the required level. In light of these characteristics, the concrete has mainly been produced at factories for secondary use at construction sites. However, Osaka Gas has established a method to produce the concrete for on-site use at construction and engineering sites. This achievement, the first in Japan, was made in collaboration with Nishimatsu Construction Co., Ltd. and Obayashi Corp.

Experimental Residential Complex “NEXT 21”

  • From April 2020, Osaka Gas will conduct a new living experiment at NEXT 21*1 experimental multi-unit housing (located in Tennoji-ku, Osaka City, and consisting of 18 dwelling units, one basement floor and six floors above ground, with a total floor area of 4,577 m²). With an eye on multi-unit housing at around 2030, this experiment will demonstrate living with the theme of "Comfortable residential space and housing for use in emergencies.” Specifically, the following will be evaluated and improved through actual habitation: (1) Wellness ZEH*2 dwelling units that are designed as net-zero energy houses (ZEH) based on double power generation through the combination of the latest model of Ene-Farm and photovoltaic power generation while giving consideration to health; (2) multi-unit housing that is self-sustaining for 72 hours in the event of a disaster, etc.; and (3) IoT housing that supports health management in residents’ daily lives.

    Going forward, we will ascertain future social issues and needs and develop comprehensive lifestyle proposals from the perspectives of housing and energy.
  • The NEXT 21 Phase-4 Habitation Experiment Launched

    The NEXT 21

  • *1 Experimental residential complex “NEXT 21”
    The “NEXT 21” was constructed in October 1993 by Osaka Gas to propose an ideal neo-futuristic urban multiple-unit housing under the concept of “Achieving both comfortable and convenient life and energy-saving / environmental preservation. ”With Osaka Gas’s employees and their families actually living there, NEXT21 has had demonstrative experiments based on themes that fitted with the times. Each phase was designed to meet the theme suited to the times. Demonstration experiments were conducted on a variety of themes, including energy saving for the entire building, reducing its CO2 emissions, greenery restoration and environmental symbiosis in urban areas, ideal forms of residence that reflect diverse lifestyles, and product development. Also, many proposals and presentations that may lead to ideal multiple-unit housing in the future have been made at a time when the liberalization of the energy market is advancing. Some of the proposals have been commercialized.
  • *2 Refers to a ZEH that maintains a room temperature of 18°C or higher even in the coldest season and limits temperature differences between rooms within 3℃.

“Eco Purge” Vehicle Developed to Lower Gas Pressure in Medium-Pressure Gas Holders

  • Osaka Gas introduced its first “Eco Purge” vehicle in 2004. The vehicle is designed to return town gas remaining in medium-pressure gas holders or medium-pressure pipes through a medium-pressure pipe network when the gas pressure is reduced from medium pressure to low pressure, by sucking out the gas and compressing it using a gas engine-driven compressor. The fourth model, developed and introduced in 2013, incorporates improved noise reduction. In 2016, we developed and introduced a small noise-reduction vehicle that can be used even on narrow roadways. In 2017, a new vehicle No. 5 with the same performance level as the No. 4 was introduced.

    Before the “Eco Purge” was developed, gas pressure was reduced by burning the remaining gas in a gas holder or pipe using a burner. The environmentally friendly “Eco Purge” was developed to reduce the load on the environment. At present, six “Eco Purge” vehicles are in use, contributing to an annual cut of about 100,000 m3 in unnecessary gas consumption and an annual reduction of about 1,670 ton of CO2 emissions.
  • On-site decompression

    On-site decompression

■ Principle of Decompression
Principle of Decompression

Collaboration with Various Corporate Partners and Startups Both in Japan and Abroad

As part of our efforts to strengthen open innovation, in July 2017 we participated in a program sponsored by Plug and Play, LLC, a leading accelerator for Silicon Valley in the Untied States, in the field of energy sustainability. We are gaining ground with our search for the latest technologies and services, with the aim of accelerating our own technological development and creation of new services.

In April 2018, Osaka Gas invested in WiL Fund II, L.P., a US-based venture capital fund. Through investment in and collaboration with startups based mainly in Japan and the U.S. and the use of WiL, LLC’s expertise in new-business creation, Osaka Gas will accelerate its activities for innovation, including the realization of more convenient daily-life services and business solutions that use digital technologies, such as IoT and AI (artificial intelligence), and the advanced operation of infrastructure that uses cutting-edge technologies.

Osaka Gas and OGCTS Conducted LNG Bunkering Trial for the LNG-fueled Tugboat Ishin at the Port of Kobe

In September 2019, at Kobe Port, Osaka Gas and OGCTS Co., Ltd., a Daigas Group company, conducted an LNG fuel bunkering trial for ishin, an LNG-fueled tugboat* owned by Mitsui O.S.K. Lines, Ltd. and operated by Nihon Tug-Boat Co., Ltd. This marked the first LNG bunkering for a ship at the Port of Kobe.

LNG fuel was hauled by a tanker truck from the Himeji LNG Terminal of Osaka Gas and was bunkered to the Ishin berthed at Shinko Pier No. 4 of the Port of Kobe. This bunkering trial was the second the Daigas Group conducted after the one it did at the Port of Sakai Senboku.

In October 2016, the International Maritime Organization decided to introduce tighter regulations on sulfur oxide (SOx) emissions in sea areas including Japan from 2020. Under the leadership of the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism, Japan has been actively promoting LNG bunkering — the supply of liquefied natural gas to ships — increasing the possibility of expanded consumption of LNG, an environmentally friendly fuel in marine transportation in coming years.

The Daigas Group will conduct further study to expand the LNG bunkering business for ships by taking full advantage of the experience of this LNG bunkering trial at the Port of Kobe and the track record at the Port of Sakai Senboku.
  • * Tugboat
    A tugboat is a small vessel used to assist large vessels and marine structures when they reach or leave the wharf or pier.
LNG bunkering

LNG bunkering

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