AIST Stories No1

From AIST to the Innovative World14Development historyand joint patent applications were made with INAX. Several years later in 1998, Ecocarat humidity-controlling tile employing nanoporous ceramics debuted on the market.“Fundamental research on intelligent humidity-controlling materials” was selected under the Private Cooperative Joint Research Program from 1996 to 2000. Furthermore, a ceramic construction material technology research consortium was formed. This organization studied manufacturing methods and as a result, humidity control using materials other than allophane became possible.Ecocarat humidity-controlling tilesTargeting further market penetrationAmid a social tide of energy conservation awareness and pursuit of comfort and health, sales of Ecocarat are steadily growing and at present, the product varieties have been significantly broadened. Ecocarat has been used in the lobby of the AIST Chubu Center, construction of which started in 2001, as well as the AIST Tsukuba Central Cafeteria, where they are contributing to creating comfortable spaces. And needless to say, they are also used in Maeda’s residence. “In my residence, I feel that the effect of the air-conditioners is better than before. While Nagoya’s summer is very hot and humid, the humidity is held at an appropriate level and the rooms often feel dry and pleasant.”However, no matter how high the functionality of the humidity-controlling construction materials, it’s hard to overcome the intense heat of recent summers without using air-conditioners. “However, if one can set the air-conditioner temperature even 1°C higher through use of humidity-controlling construction materials, this can contribute to energy conservation without losing any degree of comfort. If more households use humidity-controlling construction materials, the energy conservation effect will become even larger. It is a humidity-controlling construction material highly suited to the humid climate of Japan and for this reason, from the perspective of energy conservation, I expect that the product will make further inroads.” The new challenge continues: pursuing energy conserving, comfortable householdsTo this day, Maeda continues his research with the Humidity variation suppression of humidity-controlling construction materials※Based on LIXIL tests.Differs depending on parameters such as other constructionmaterials, furniture layout, climate, and ventilation.1009080706050403020012243648Relative humidity (%)Time (h) OverdryCondensationPlastic clothEcocarat2000Development of volatileorganic compound (VOC) adsorbent.In the Nagoya Industrial Technology Institute era, allophane was discovered to be a suitable material for adsorbing VOCs. It was subsequently commercialized.1975Ca. 1975A storehouse earthenwall from the Edo erawas analyzed.An earthen wall sample was obtained upon dismantling of a storehouse built in the Edo period and its moisture adsorption and release properties were investigated and analyzed. The earthen wall was found to possess a multi-layer structure. Development of a humidity-controlling construction material commenced.1992-93Focus onallophane.The moisture adsorption and release properties of various natural clay materials were investigated and allophane was selected as a material.1994-95Humidity-controllingconstruction materialcommercialization.INAX commenced marketing of humidity-controlling construction material Ecocarat utilizing allophane.1998Development of new humidity-controlling materials.Promoting development of new high functionality ceramics such as HASClay (hydroxyl aluminum silicate). CurrentTechnology guidance for aleading residential fittingmanufacturer.INAX (as it was known at the time) enquired about improving the performance of porous ceramics, and technology guidance was subsequently given.1988Inauguration ofresearch associationfor synthetic claymanufacturingtechnology.1988-1992Public-private sectorjoint research starts.“Fundamental research of intelligent humidity-controlling materials” was conducted jointly with a private sector company. Synthesis of materials that could autonomously adsorb and release moisture over the range where humans feel comfortable and natural materials that could be used as humidity-controlling materials were investigated.1996-2000Inauguration of a researchconsortium for ceramicconstruction material technology.2000-2004HASClay: a new humidity-controllingconstruction materialSource: LIXILPhotograph: LIXIL