The 21st century is said to be the century of the environment. A shift from the conventional mass-production, mass-consumption society to a sustainable society in harmony with the environment is desired. In the energy field as well, it is essential to develop technologies for the generation, transportation, conversion, and use of electric energy with even higher efficiency while considering people, society, and the environment. The foundation of this technological development is energy conversion and control equipment such as motors, generators, transformers, reactors, inverters, and converters.
For example, since Japan is a maritime nation surrounded by the sea, there are high expectations for the practical use of offshore wind and wave power, among other natural energy sources. However, to extract electricity from these sources, generators are needed. In addition, the electricity generated from these natural energies cannot be used as it is because both the voltage and frequency fluctuate. Therefore, it is necessary to use inverters and converters to convert it to the same voltage and frequency that you usually use. Of the electricity delivered to your homes and factories in this way, more than 50% is consumed by motors. Although you may not be aware of it, many electrical appliances in your house use motors, such as vacuum cleaners, washing machines, refrigerators, ventilation fans, hairdryers, and air conditioners. According to one estimate, if we could improve the efficiency of all these motors in Japan by just 1%, we could save enough electricity to power one nuclear power plant. In other words, it can be said that one of the most effective ways to realize a sustainable society in the future is to improve the performance and efficiency of energy conversion and control equipment.
In our laboratory, we are researching on improving the performance and efficiency of energy conversion and control devices that support a series of systems from the generation of electric energy to its use, and on constructing electric energy application systems, such as offshore wind power generation systems and electric vehicles, that combine these devices in an advanced manner.