Moonshot Research and Development Program                   ●Japanese / English

DAC-U (Direct Air Capture and Utilization) System in Urban Areas

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Greetings by Project Manager

In order to pass on the irreplaceable earth to the next generation, we must do everything we can to achieve carbon neutrality. The introduction of large amounts of solar and wind renewable electricity is the first milestone in carbon neutrality. Next, we need to work on decarbonization of fuels that are essential for our society. Along with the development of an energy system for local production and local consumption using biomass, etc., it is necessary to distribute a large amount of green hydrogen produced by renewable electricity as a decarbonized fuel that corresponds to Japan’s overall demand, and that of the whole world, at a reasonable cost. On the other hand, there are industries in our society where it is difficult to reduce CO2 emissions even if we make the best use of decarbonization methods such as energy conversion to renewable electricity and introduction of green hydrogen. The final technique to tackle this difficult problem is to capture and recycle CO2 using renewable energy.

Until now, science and technology have progressed by pursuing the current demands of humankind without being aware of the sustainability of the earth. In the 100 years since the Industrial Revolution, we have expanded our civilization by accelerating the use of fossil resources that have been accumulated over hundreds of millions of years in the history of the earth. As a result, we have identified danger signals with respect to the earth and humankind in the future,such as the manifestation of climate change. We, the inhabitants of the earth, must pursue research and development of new technologies to solve future problems as if fighting a war, and in this effort, we must transcend academic disciplines and industrial barriers. Our industry-academia collaboration team is fully engaged in the Moonshot R & D project, which captures CO2 from the air, both inside and outside of buildings, and converts it into useful chemical feedstocks, such as ethylene, using renewable energy.

Our team uses electrochemical weapons. Both photovoltaic power generation and water electrolysis that enable us to achieve carbon neutrality are based on electrochemistry. These can be implemented on various scales, from small and medium-sized to ultra-large. A large amount of renewable energy sources is essential to achieve carbon neutrality globally. By utilizing renewable energy that exists all over the earth, we can introduce an energy system for local production and local consumption in our immediate surroundings. So, can a carbon recycling system that captures and recycles CO2 be introduced into our daily lives? Our team’s answer is yes. Our proposed “Urban DAC-U (Direct Air Capture and Utilization)” system, which makes use of electrochemical characteristics very effectively, converts CO2 into valuable chemical feedstocks in the utility space within the buildings. The CO2 we emit in our cities is transformed into products that are indispensable to our daily lives, such as clothing, by using renewable energy. This is akin to artificial photosynthesis for cities in the future.

The realization of carbon neutrality must be approached as if humankind is waging war with all its might. We believe that the “Urban DAC-U” we are developing is just one of many efforts, but it will be a powerful weapon for achieving carbon neutrality. There are many challenges to overcome in achieving this. But we will not give up. We will steadily work toward achieving carbon neutrality in 2050.

Project Manager

Prof. Masakazu SUGIYAMA,
Director, Research Center
for Advanced Science and
The University of Tokyo


R&D-related and general inquiries: Research Center for Advanced Science and Technology, The University of Tokyo

Industrial / International Collaboration and Contract related inquiries: RIKEN Innovation Co., Ltd.


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