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Examples of Major Studies and Research and Development Implemented in the Past

International Straits Cooperation Framework for Coastal and User States

A Ship Navigating the Straits of Malacca
A Ship Navigating the Straits of Malacca

In recent years, along with progress in the world economy and its globalization, there has been an increase in maritime transport and this, unfortunately, has led to piracy incidents that frequently jeopardize the safe navigation of ships. Thus, seeking to ensure the security of international straits has become an urgent challenge. Therefore, for the safety of ships navigating the Straits of Malacca and Singapore, which are vital sea transport routes for East Asian countries including Japan, China and the Republic of Korea, research has been carried out on formulating an international framework for cooperation between coastal and user states. Research and study on the Marine Electronic Highway (MEH) under development by the International Maritime Organization (IMO) has also been conducted.
In September 2007, a Cooperative Mechanism for Safety of Navigation in the Straits of Malacca and Singapore, which OPRF participated in, was agreed upon and in April 2008 an Aid to Navigation Fund was also established. Through the initiatives of The Nippon Foundation, these will provide financial support based on the concept of corporate social responsibility (CSR) from user states and the maritime industry. The fund will provide maintenance and upgrade of aids to navigation in the Straits and is the world's first realization of cooperation between user states and user industries based on the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea.

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Tokyo Declaration on Securing the Ocean—Geo-agenda for the Future: Securing the Oceans

The spreading, drifting, and weathering of crude oil on the open seas.Maintenance of peace and protection of the ocean's environment and resources are major challenges for the 21st century. With this in mind, OPRF reviewed the traditional concept of security centered on the military and began advocating "Securing the Oceans," a comprehensive concept of ocean security that embraces the maintenance of peace on the ocean and the health of the marine environment. In order to promote this new concept, we held international conferences to which we invited prominent experts from Asia-Pacific countries and international organizations in a three-year project starting from 2002. This resulted in making clear the principle, "Securing the Oceans," with active discussions on its implementation and adoption of the "Tokyo Declaration."
In order to realize the concept of Securing the Oceans, the declaration recommends concrete measures based on 10 provisions, including information sharing and a legal enforcement system, and expresses an agreement for establishing a Securing the Oceans Advocacy Group (SOAG) to put it into practice. As this information was disseminated at home and abroad, it received considerable international attention.
Geo-Agenda for the future: Securing the Oceans pdf (84KB)

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Research and Study on the Debris Problem in the Oceans and Coastal Zones

Trash Scattered on the Beach
Trash Scattered on the Beach
An "Ocean Classroom" after a Beach Clean-Up
An "Ocean Classroom" after a Beach Clean-up

Ocean debris drifting on the seas and ashore is not only unsightly and affects the ecology, but is expanding into a global problem. To solve this problem, it is necessary to have not only a unified management system for land and sea areas but also a social activity system to solve the local debris problems in cooperation with the public and private sectors.
OPRF has carried forward popularization of a "local action system contributing to conservation of the marine environment" by introducing environment tickets for seashore cleaning and debris craft workshops. This has been done in cooperation with citizen groups nationwide. In February 2005, those from nine areas of the country who had engaged in community activities gathered in Tokyo for an exchange conference, where they presented case studies and exchanged opinions. It is anticipated that the action system, which OPRF presented as a model, will be expanded into other areas.

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Guidelines for Navigation and Overflight in the Exclusive Economic Zone

Guidelines for Navigation and Overflight in the Exclusive Economic Zone

International disputes over activities by States in the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), such as the tension between Japan and China concerning seabed resource development in the vicinity of the East China Sea EEZ boundary and unreported marine research activities conducted by China within Japan's EEZ, are emerging across the globe today. Many still remember the collision between a U.S. EP3 surveillance plane dispatched for surveillance activity and a Chinese jet fighter over China's EEZ off the coast of Hainan in 2001, the Japanese Coast Guard firing at and sinking a North Korean spy vessel in the East China Sea in December of the same year, and, since this occurred within China's EEZ, the protest from China. Many are uneasy over these unexpected incidents and fear the armed conflicts into which they might escalate.
Guidelines for navigation and overflight in the Exclusive Economic Zone are thus needed to avoid such scenarios.
OPRF held a series of meetings entitled "The Regime of the Exclusive Economic Zone: Issues and Responses" during the period 2003 and 2005. With consensus among the participants, OPRF compiled and published the "Guidelines for Navigation and Overflight in the Exclusive Economic Zone."

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Research on Exhaust Gas from Ships

Simulated Impacts of NOx Emissions from Ships
Simulated Impacts of NOx Emissions from Ships

In the early 1990's, the environmental impacts of exhaust gas from ships (e.g., acid rain) began to draw attention. At OPRF, we estimated emissions of nitrogen oxides (NOx) and sulfur oxides (SOx) from ships and also researched measures to reduce them. Moreover, we have surveyed and analyzed the environmental impacts of VOC (volatile organic compounds) and PM (particulate matter) emitted from ships, in terms of both field measurements and numerical simulations, thereby making significant contributions in the establishment of international regulations for these air pollutants.
Also, since the adoption of the Kyoto Protocol of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in 1997, there has been discussion in the International Maritime Organization (IMO) on regulating emissions of greenhouse gases (GHG) from the international operation of ships. At OPRF, while continuing independent activities (such as our pioneering announcement of estimations for GHG emissions from ocean-going vessels in 2000), we have also participated in joint research with overseas research institutions and are playing a leading role at the international level.

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Research and Study on Dissemination of Marine Education

As opportunities to learn about the sea through actual school education are scarce, calls for dissemination and extension of marine education have increased. While it is true that many groups, research institutes, enterprises and NPOs have separately implemented learning support activities, the situation cannot be said to have made sufficient progress.
OPRF is carrying out research on how learning about the sea could more easily be adopted into school education, and clarifying "coordination between the actual classrooms and external institutions, and the modality of a support system" in the existing educational system. Moreover, we are conducting research to develop pedagogical methods and optimal learning conditions, toward the creation of an integrated support structure for the dissemination of marine education at the elementary school level.
We have summarized some of the results of this project and published them in "Introduction to Ocean Management," designed for courses at the university and post-graduate levels, and "Marine Trivia" and "More Marine Trivia," which have already been used in elementary school lessons. We were also involved in the planning of the "BE-PAL Introduction to Marine Recreation," a book that will serve as an aid to marine education at the university and post-graduate level.

"Marine Trivia"   "More Marine Trivia"   "BE-PAL Introduction to Marine Recreation"   "Introduction to Ocean Management"
"Marine Trivia"   "More Marine Trivia"   "BE-PAL Introduction to Marine Recreation"   "Introduction to Ocean Management"

 

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Northern Sea Route International Project

An Icebreaker Navigating the Northern Sea Route
An Icebreaker Navigating the Northern Sea Route

The "International Northern Sea Route Programme (INSROP)," which started in 1993 is the representative project regarding the northern sea route (NSR). The NSR has the merit of being the shortest traveling distance between Europe and the Far East, at a length of only 60% of the "southern route." This three-nation project has been carried out by OPRF with the Fridtjof Nansen Institute in Norway and Central Marine Research & Design Institute in Russia. Parallel with INSROP, a domestic project, the "Japan Northern Sea Route Programme (JANSROP)" was also begun by OPRF. This project entered a new phase in 2002, adding Canada and other countries as partners and was called "JANSROP-II." Under this project, OPRF carried out various studies on a transportation system to bring natural resources from the Russian Far East to Japan via the NSR and on the safety of navigation and conservation of the marine environment in the Sea of Okhotsk. As a result of the studies, JANSROP-GIS (geographic information system) was compiled. GIS is the world's first such system containing data on the abundant resources in the Russian Far East, such as energy, mineral, and forest and marine resources, along with geographical data. In addition, we developed a concept for an ocean regime on marine environmental protection in the Sea of Okhotsk.
In recent years, with the decrease in ice in the Arctic Ocean due to global warming, the area has received new attention as a commercial sea route. This led the Arctic Council, composed of eight Arctic Ocean coastal countries, to highly evaluate INSROP and JANSROP-GIS in its Arctic Marine Shipping Assessment 2009 Report (AMSA), released in April 2009.

JANSROP-GIS



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Innovations in Production Systems — "Shipbuilding CIM (Computer Integrated Manufacturing)" and "ZoHaku Web"

In order for Japan's shipbuilding industry to reinforce its international competitiveness, OPRF, along with leading companies, began development of CIM for the shipbuilding industry. This system can express on the computer the full range of ship-building information, from design of ships to their construction, enabling information sharing and thus dramatically enhancing production efficiency.
We carried out the research and development over a ten-year period from 1989 and successfully constructed a product model. The fruits of this innovation are now used in the automatization of shipyards and in the systematization of production sites.
Subsequently, OPRF began to develop a tool which supports information exchange over the internet between shipyards and marine equipment suppliers. The outcome of this R&D was the establishment of the ZoHaku Web company in 2001, with the participation of 20 shipbuilding companies and about 70 ship machinery companies.

A Conceptual Diagram of an Advanced Shipbuilding CIM
A Conceptual Diagram of an Advanced Shipbuilding CIM

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Development of a Super-conducting Propulsion Ship

The World's First Super-conducting Propulsion Ship Yamato-1
The World's First Super-conducting Propulsion Ship Yamato-1

Amidst the long-protracted recession in the maritime shipping sector, Japan was able to maintain a nearly 50% share of the world's shipbuilding volume in the 1980s. However, Japan trailed behind overseas rivals in engine development. In response, OPRF had the vision of inspiring young engineers in the recession-bound shipbuilding sector to new hopes and dreams with the development of a screw propeller-less ship of the future, aided by leading-edge superconductivity technology.
The project that arose from this was the Yamato-1, a ship using super-conducting magnets to generate propulsion. The greatest challenge in the ship's development was to make a propulsion system incorporating super-conducting magnets of sufficient size and yet light in weight. The efforts of researchers and scientists in their pursuit of high performance super-conducting magnets came to fruition when the Yamato-1 was launched for her first test voyage in 1992. This world-first development of a super-conducting propulsion ship opened up new avenues for the application of super-conducting magnet technology and yielded a rich harvest of technical results.

Published Report
YAMATO-1 World's First Super-conducting Magneto-Hydrodynamic Propulsion Ship (March, 1997)

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Development of Advanced CIM on the Basis of Information-sharing (1989-1999)

In an effort to strengthen Japan's international competitiveness in the shipbuilding sector and improve its productivity, OPRF has achieved progress in the development of Computer Integrated Manufacturing (CIM) for the shipbuilding sector with the cooperation of all the major shipbuilding companies. The introduction of CIM in shipbuilding is designed to boost productivity at the shipbuilding yard where a variety of work goes on concurrently. This is achieved by developing a product model capable of displaying a comprehensive range of information on computer design and production and sharing such information for effective use. Work is currently in progress to develop an even more advanced shipbuilding CIM system for the future.

Development of Advanced CIM on the Basis of Information-Sharing (1989-1999)

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Research and Study on the Matters Relative to Measures against Marine Oil Spills

Prestige Oil Tanker Sinks off the Spanish Coast in 2002 (Photo: Kyodo News)
Prestige Oil Tanker Sinks off the Spanish Coast in 2002 (Photo: Kyodo News)

In the aftermath of worldwide marine pollutions caused by maritime accidents involving tankers, OPRF has actively played a great role to prevent pollution through experimentation at OPRF's Tsukuba Institute by installing a test water tank uniquely capable of using oil. In the 1980s many models of new oil fence and oil recovery equipment were tested and developed. Moreover, OPRF went far in experimentation concerning the preventive structures against tankers' oil spill like the double hull and mid deck. Besides these contributions, valuable data related to dispersion, drift and weathering of spilled oil in the wind and waves and in the current were highly evaluated not only at home but also internationally. Those data are utilized for actual oil spill response.

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Research into Marine Pollution Prevention to Address Oil Spills at Sea (1994-1999)

The Spreading, Drifting, and Weathering of Crude Oil on the Open Seas.
The Spreading, Drifting, and Weathering of Crude Oil on the Open Seas.

The fuel oil spill accident of 1997 caused by the Russian tanker Nakhodka in the Sea of Japan resulted in a major marine pollution disaster. OPRF had long expected that such accidents might happen and began to implement, in 1991, a research project on the "Development of Technology and Materials for the Early Prevention of Large-scale Marine Oil Spillage Accidents." It developed methods for predicting the spread, drift and weathering of oil spills as well as techniques for controlling, collecting and recovering the oil spilt at sea. OPRF built a special "Circulating Water Tank" at its Tsukuba Institute for experimental studies on the weathering behavior of crude oils (evaporation, emulsification and changes in properties), in view of the critical importance of making some findings for the initial measures to combat oil spills. The results of these studies were analyzed and made public in a paper titled "Weathering of Crude Oil Spilled on Water."
After this, the Petroleum Association of Japan carried out similar weathering experiments on a total of 27 types of crude and fuel oils. The results were made available on CD-ROM. OPRF analyzed the results in the same manner as before to enhance their usefulness. The findings have been published under the title of "Analysis of Weathering Test Results of Crude Oils Using a Two-Component Model."
Furthermore, OPRF also held an international symposium titled the "Marine Oil Spill Response," bringing together both domestic and international technical experts who were involved in the large-scale oil spills of ships such as the Nakhodka and the Exxon Valdez.

Published Report
  1. WEATHERING OF CRUDE OIL SPILLED ON WATER (Evaporation emulsification and oil properties) - Theoretical analysis of weathering test results of crude oil and its application - (August, 1995)
  2. Proceedings of International Symposium on Marine Oil Spill Response (December, 1997)
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Research into the Reduction of Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Ocean-going Vessels (2000-2001)

At the "Third Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change" (COP3) held in Kyoto in December of 1997, while a general agreement was reached between countries on target reductions of CO2 emissions, the investigation of the special conditions involved in the reduction of CO2 incidence from ocean-going vessels (the difficulty of regulating vessels at sea, specific vessel operation systems such as flag of convenience etc.) were requested of the International Maritime Organization (IMO).
For this reason, this research project is designed to comprehensively investigate the emission volume of greenhouse gases such as CO2, methane (CH4) and nitrogen monoxide (NO) from ocean-going ships and the options available for the reduction of such emissions from a technical, socio-economical and policy forming viewpoint.
The results of this research are being gathered as fundamental data to be utilized in the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions such as CO2 on a global scale. They are used in the formation of policy proposals presented to IMO and are dispersed amongst the related organizations and individuals worldwide.

Published Report
  1. Proposal to the 47th Session of the Marine Environmental Protection Committee (MEPC 47) titled "Prevention of Air Pollution from Ships: Study on Estimation and Reduction of GHG Emissions from Ocean-Going Vessels"
  2. Proposal to the 46th Session of the Marine Environmental Protection Committee (MEPC 46) titled "Prevention of Air Pollution from Ships: A Preliminary Study on Estimation of GHG Emissions other than CO2 from Ocean-Going Vessels" (April, 2001)
  3. Proposal to the 6th Session of the Sub-Committee on Bulk Liquids and Gases (BLG 6) titled "Evaluation Of The IMO Greenhouse Gas Emission Study - Comments on the Report on the Outcome of the IMO Study on Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Ships -" (February, 2001)
  4. Proposal to the 45th Session of the Marine Environmental Protection Committee (MEPC 45) titled "Prevention Of Air Pollution From Ships - A Point of View Toward GHG Emission Reduction: Preliminary Study on Estimation and Future Trends of GHG Emissions from All Marine Vessels" (October, 2000) (38KB)
  5. Prediction of CO2 Emissions from Ships (2000) (28KB)
  6. A Report on Research Concerning the Reduction of CO2 Emission from Vessels (August, 2000) (593KB)
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Development of a Ceramic Marine Engine Using Reformed Natural Gas (1998-2001)

Carbon dioxide is the most prominent greenhouse gas responsible for global warming, and nitrogen and sulfur oxides (NOx and SOx) are known to cause acid rain and photochemical smog. To reduce these combustion-related pollutants and suspended particulate matter, work is in progress to develop a ceramic engine system using natural gas (NG). This research project is unique in the world and promises clean combustion at high efficiency. Using a catalytic NG reforming unit and a CO2 separator, this revolutionary engine system boasts a thermal efficiency better than 70% and a dramatic emission reduction, with CO2 emissions reduced to less than a third of their present level, and NOx and SOx cut to almost zero.

Published Report

Development of a Ceramic Marine Engine Using Reformed Natural Gas

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Research on an Exhaust Gas Cleaning System for Use in Coastal Vessels (1997-2001)

The International Maritime Organization (IMO) has adopted a resolution to reduce the pollution-causing NOx emissions from ships to less than 70% of their present level. The impact of exhaust gases is particularly serious in coastal areas, where they are responsible for direct environmental pollution. Confronting this issue, research is underway to develop a new high-performance denitrification catalyst for cleaning exhaust gases from diesel engines in small-sized coastal vessels, while the development of a new catalytic nitrogen removing system that will operate efficiently at low gas temperatures when leaving ports is also being implemented.

Exhaust gas denitrification catalyst system
Exhaust gas denitrification catalyst system

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Modernization of Coastal Ships

Modernization of Coastal Ships

Moving toward the achievement of a modern coastal ship where work on board the ship is dramatically reduced and ideal working conditions can be realized, OPRF made a life-size model of a coastal ship with a one-man-operated wheelhouse and crew space and put it on display to the interest of all from around Japan concerned in maritime activities. In addition, a coastal steel products carrier with a gross tonnage of 497 tons fitted with revolutionary equipment such as a one-man-operated integrated ship-operation system, comfortable housing accommodations, a modular engine room, auxiliary propulsion functions such as a bow thruster (a propulsion device built into the ship’s bow) was set sail. This led to the assessment of the benefits of the modernization of coastal ships.

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Development of Revolutionary and Highly Efficient Natural Gas Engine System

A Natural Gas Engine System
A Natural Gas Engine System

As a solution to global warming and also a measure to reduce harmful exhaust gases, fuel conversion to natural gas from petroleum is expected. Since fiscal year 1998, OPRF has been engaged in the research and development of a highly efficient and totally new natural gas engine system, as a counter measure to exhaust emission. In this development, which is a world first, the engine uses reformed gas and hydrogen and carbon monoxide generated by reforming raw natural gas through high temperature exhaust gas and a catalyst. Edging closer to practical use, OPRF hopes this epoch-making engine system will be one way of solving global environmental problems.

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