AIST Stories No1
13/36

Impact in the following fields! Community life◦Households◦Eco products◦Building & construction◦MaterialsIndustryLeading the way AIST!11at a glanceTerminology2011 Great East Japan Earthquake. Having said so, it is quite difficult to forgo comfort once it has been obtained.There are probably many individuals who use air-conditioners while struggling to come to terms with a compromise between comfort and energy conservation.“Well, what if we could maintain a room at a comfortable humidity without using electricity?”AIST Chubu Center’s Masaki Maeda asked that very question. A 15% drop in indoor humidity is said to result in a 1°C decline in sensible temperature. If humidity can be regulated without consuming electricity, the period for which air-conditioner use is not required can be extended and comfort can be preserved. Even when the air-conditioner is being used, it can be set at a higher temperature.“Since 1994, I have been engaged in R&D on humidity-controlling materials with porous ceramics*1. These are highly functional and can maintain a room at a comfortable humidity without using electricity. The assumption is that they are applied in the form of construction materials such as humidity-controlling tiles and walls. With the intense heat experienced of late in Japan, there was no end to the number of people who succumbed to heat stroke, but if humidity-controlling construction materials were to come into widespread usage and maintaining appropriate room humidity was to become common, I believe that we could reduce such tragedies.”Leading sanitary ware and construction tile manufacturer INAX (currently LIXIL) commercialized humidity-controlling construction materials based on the research of Maeda and his team in 1998. Backed by energy conservation- and health-oriented consumers, sales of these products have continued to increase.Further, among the numerous technologies possessed by AIST, patents related to these humidity-controlling construction materials have held the number one position in terms of patent revenue for the past seven years. Targeting a “storehouse with earthen walls”Traditional wisdom matching the climateResearch on humidity-controlling construction materials employing porous ceramics commenced in 1992. This resulted from a request from INAX, which was engaged in the development of new functional construction materials. At the time, ecological awareness was starting to permeate through the general public on account of a rising sense of crisis regarding climate change and an era was emerging with new senses of value. Maeda thought that construction materials and humidity-controlling tiles that could maintain comfort without using electricity would be an attractive proposition as new products for such an era.Historically speaking, awareness of energy conservation in Japan did not start from this time. The oil shock of the 1970s resulted in efforts being made throughout the country directed at energy conservation and a switch was made from wooden houses that readily let in drafts to houses made from concrete and aluminum sashes that boasted excellent airtightness and thermal insulation properties. While the energy conservation effect was raised greatly by modern houses, another problem gradually started to emerge.“The higher the airtightness, the fewer routes for steam from cooking and baths, for example, to escape and this meant that condensation readily occurred on windows and Comfortable humidityA relative humidity of 50–60% is a level at which people can live comfortably. At a temperature of 20–30°C, mites tend to emerge at a humidity of higher than 60% while mold readily occurs at a humidity exceeding 80%. Furthermore, a humidity of less than 40% results in dry skin and mucous membranes. This not only affects beauty, but dry mucous membranes are weakened and become susceptible to infection by viruses, among other health-related effects that are more likely to occur. n型材料◀In 1952, the Nagoya Branch of the Mechanical Laboratory, the Nagoya Branch of the Tokyo Industrial Research Institute, and the Kyoto-based Research Institute for Ceramics were merged to form the Nagoya Industrial Research Institute. The Research Institute for Ceramics formed the basis of the current Sustainable Materials Research Division.AIST Chubu CenterTemperature (°C) 4030201004060708090100Relative humidity (%)HighMite propagationLowHumidity rangewhere humansfeel comfortableMoldgrowth rangeMite propagation*1 Porous ceramic: Ceramic that possesses numerous pores in its interior (materials such as pottery and porcelain that are made by sintering clay). They boast excellent electrical resistance and thermal resistance, and are used in applications such as adsorbents and thermal insulation materials. The extent of adsorption and thermal insulation is dependent on the sizes and shapes of the pores.●Mold/mite propagation and humidity Source: LIXILImpact in the following fields! Community life◦Households◦Eco products◦Building & construction◦MaterialsIndustryLeading the way AIST!11at a glanceTerminology2011 Great East Japan Earthquake. Having said so, it is quite difficult to forgo comfort once it has been obtained.There are probably many individuals who use air-conditioners while struggling to come to terms with a compromise between comfort and energy conservation.“Well, what if we could maintain a room at a comfortable humidity without using electricity?”AIST Chubu Center’s Masaki Maeda asked that very question. A 15% drop in indoor humidity is said to result in a 1°C decline in sensible temperature. If humidity can be regulated without consuming electricity, the period for which air-conditioner use is not required can be extended and comfort can be preserved. Even when the air-conditioner is being used, it can be set at a higher temperature.“Since 1994, I have been engaged in R&D on humidity-controlling materials with porous ceramics*1. These are highly functional and can maintain a room at a comfortable humidity without using electricity. The assumption is that they are applied in the form of construction materials such as humidity-controlling tiles and walls. With the intense heat experienced of late in Japan, there was no end to the number of people who succumbed to heat stroke, but if humidity-controlling construction materials were to come into widespread usage and maintaining appropriate room humidity was to become common, I believe that we could reduce such tragedies.”Leading sanitary ware and construction tile manufacturer INAX (currently LIXIL) commercialized humidity-controlling construction materials based on the research of Maeda and his team in 1998. Backed by energy conservation- and health-oriented consumers, sales of these products have continued to increase.Further, among the numerous technologies possessed by AIST, patents related to these humidity-controlling construction materials have held the number one position in terms of patent revenue for the past seven years. Targeting a “storehouse with earthen walls”Traditional wisdom matching the climateResearch on humidity-controlling construction materials employing porous ceramics commenced in 1992. This resulted from a request from INAX, which was engaged in the development of new functional construction materials. At the time, ecological awareness was starting to permeate through the general public on account of a rising sense of crisis regarding climate change and an era was emerging with new senses of value. Maeda thought that construction materials and humidity-controlling tiles that could maintain comfort without using electricity would be an attractive proposition as new products for such an era.Historically speaking, awareness of energy conservation in Japan did not start from this time. The oil shock of the 1970s resulted in efforts being made throughout the country directed at energy conservation and a switch was made from wooden houses that readily let in drafts to houses made from concrete and aluminum sashes that boasted excellent airtightness and thermal insulation properties. While the energy conservation effect was raised greatly by modern houses, another problem gradually started to emerge.“The higher the airtightness, the fewer routes for steam from cooking and baths, for example, to escape and this meant that condensation readily occurred on windows and Comfortable humidityA relative humidity of 50–60% is a level at which people can live comfortably. At a temperature of 20–30°C, mites tend to emerge at a humidity of higher than 60% while mold readily occurs at a humidity exceeding 80%. Furthermore, a humidity of less than 40% results in dry skin and mucous membranes. This not only affects beauty, but dry mucous membranes are weakened and become susceptible to infection by viruses, among other health-related effects that are more likely to occur. n型材料◀In 1952, the Nagoya Branch of the Mechanical Laboratory, the Nagoya Branch of the Tokyo Industrial Research Institute, and the Kyoto-based Research Institute for Ceramics were merged to form the Nagoya Industrial Research Institute. The Research Institute for Ceramics formed the basis of the current Sustainable Materials Research Division.AIST Chubu CenterTemperature (°C) 4030201004060708090100Relative humidity (%)HighMite propagationLowHumidity rangewhere humansfeel comfortableMoldgrowth rangeMite propagation*1 Porous ceramic: Ceramic that possesses numerous pores in its interior (materials such as pottery and porcelain that are made by sintering clay). They boast excellent electrical resistance and thermal resistance, and are used in applications such as adsorbents and thermal insulation materials. The extent of adsorption and thermal insulation is dependent on the sizes and shapes of the pores.●Mold/mite propagation and humidity Source: LIXIL

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