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Prof. Toshiyuki Kohno,
Chair of Department
of Energy Sciences
Quest for understanding nature has been the driving force of human beings to develop science and technologies. We invented methods converting heat to mechanical force, developed devices transforming mechanical energy to electricity, and found even a way to derive nuclear energy for our usage. The science-based technologies protected us from menaces of nature and provided us convenient and comfortable lifestyles. However, such a civilized society has been supported by limited, unevenly distributed, and rapidly depleting energy resources. World energy demand will continue to grow as populations increase and countries undergo economic expansion. We are uncertain whether the Earth’s atmosphere and climate can be stable against the human related activities. Accordingly, the future society must be achieved in a sustainable way that has the lowest environmental impact. The advanced and sustainable energy sources should be abundant and evenly distributed. They should have potential for reducing environmental impacts and improving socioeconomic acceptability. In addition, we may need to make a paradigm shift from the society based on the finite energy resources to the one supported by continuous energy supply.
Energy science provides the wisdom and the solution for the issues that threaten our existence. For the benefit of all the people on this planet, energy sustainability is of great importance and “energy science” is the essential word for opening up a new vista of our future.
Mission of the Department of Energy Sciences
The recent rapid increase in energy consumption due to human activities is thought to be causing abrupt changes in the environment. No human activity involving the transfer, conversion and utilization of energy would be possible without the stresses on our planet. However, learning from our disorderly massive consumption of energy in the past, we must develop a rational portfolio of technologies for secure energy future, including the exploration of diverse and clean energy sources, as well as energy systems that minimize the environmental load, as the essential parts.
In order to address energy challenges, such as diversification of energy sources, high efficiency of energy utilization, energy consumption with sustainable environmental effects, and international contributions in energy technologies, we need interdisciplinary studies across many different fields as well as research that cover areas from the basics through to application and development. The mission of the Department of Energy Sciences is to cultivate creative researchers and engineers with advanced knowledge and wide-ranging insight, who can survey the global environmental and social systems from the viewpoint of energy and tackle various energy issues.
Characteristics and Organization
Energy related problems are closely intertwined with environment and resource issues, food and population issues, and political and economic issues. Therefore, the examination of energy issues from a very broad perspective is an absolute necessity. It needs hardly be said that we cannot cope with these issues solely through existing compartmentalized fields of study. The Department of Energy Sciences is comprised of such interdisciplinary fields as physics, chemistry, mechanics, electricity, and material engineering, and aims to create a leading-edge field of study, which can address these issues from many directions.
The Department of Energy Sciences has Fundamental Chairs, which consist of full-time teaching staff of the department and collaborative teaching staff who belong to external collaborative research laboratories, and Cooperative Chairs and other Chairs that consist of teaching staff from other departments of Tokyo Institute of Technology. The Department of Energy Sciences also works, in order to advance education and research, with other organizations of the Tokyo Institute of Technology such as the Research Laboratory for Nuclear Reactors and the Interdisciplinary Graduate School, and external research organizations, such as the Central Research Institute of Electric Power Industry, National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology, National Institute of Radiological Sciences, Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, and Toshiba Corporation’s Power and Industrial Systems Research and Development Center. The curriculum is designed in such a way that talented teaching staff and students from a wide range of fields in physical science and engineering gather at the department so that students can acquire abilities for examining energy-related challenges from the viewpoint of physical science and solving problems using the knowledge of the engineer. Moreover, students can get study guidance from more than one member of the teaching staff, and can receive either a science or engineering degree according to their choice.