We’ll actively work to create new technologies and educational activities.

Director of the Research Center for Environmentally Friendly Materials Engineering

Shinji Hirai

We’ve been blessed with the opportunity, since 2011, to work on a priority project of the university: Renewable Energy Materials Science and Sustainable Materials Development Using Rare Earth Elements.

Doctoral research fellows including 14 teachers and foreigners were gathered together from different special study subjects for this project, taking an interdisciplinary approach. They have carried out a task- force-based research project selected by the external committee and unraveled how rare earth elements are related to the properties and characteristics of renewable energy materials and sustainable materials. In addition, they have proposed a way of efficiently using rare earth elements and recycling them, and they have promoted their research with the aim of developing technologies to replace rare earth elements with other elements and of searching for undiscovered properties of rare earth elements.

As indications of their progress, many research papers have been published and lectures on energy have been held for the general public in Sapporo. This eventually led us to conclude an academic exchange agreement with the Ioffe Physical-Technical Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences, which deserves special consideration.

The “Muroran Materia” Creative Educational Program, which this project has been engaged in from its drafting stage, was adopted as a program to receive a subsidy from the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology and was launched in 2012. The program is designed to foster advanced professionals and to enrich specialized educational functions; 23 graduate students from various majors are currently participating in it. Finally, the project made a fresh start with the establishment of the Research Center for Environmentally Friendly Materials Engineering, with the aim of further developing and enriching research and educational activities.

The center provides an environment where researchers of different specializations can share a common purpose and have ample opportunity to understand each others’ research, which is expected to give researchers a multidimensional perspective and a sense of unity, thereby accelerating progress toward their goals. Additionally, we’re going to expand targeted research areas, toward contributing to the realization of an environmentally conscious society while bringing organic polymeric materials as well as inorganic materials into view.

As well as trying to create new technologies and new industries, we’re determined to raise awareness of materials study and to pursue educational activities, and we’re actively creating a cooperative framework with both domestic and international business enterprises and research institutes. We appreciate your continuing generous support of our activities.