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May 2007

Japan Ecolodge Association Casa Verde Takatsuji 901 329 Kotsuyacho Shimogyoku Kyoto 6008425 JAPAN

The Latest in Innovative Technologies Masaru Takayama Executive Director Japan Ecolodge Association Abstract: Technologies advance daily though we often overlook the important contributions made by scientists and researchers that are applicable to sustainable practices in ecotourism industry especially in eco-lodging sector. This paper describes Japan’s good examples of innovative high and low technologies including Hydrotect (utilizes super hydrophilic photocatalyst technology and/or photocatalytic organic decomposition technology), power-generating floor, non-electric automatic sliding door, fuel cell cogeneration system, Energy Management System (EMS) and geothermal air conditioning. The examples described in this paper are starting to catch attention and used in some industries with an exception of power-generating floor, a brand new technology in an experimental stage expected to improve its efficiency to be widely used in a sustainable manner. Applications of these technologies in eco-lodges and resorts can not only help differentiate among others, but also contribute to prevention of global warming and strengthen sustainable practices.

Introduction: A goal to introduce innovative environmentally-friendly technologies into eco-conscious lodging is to alleviate the global warming and to help protect the surrounding environment. The innovative technologies introduced in this paper are, however, better utilized with creative tweaks by eco-lodging industry to improve sustainability in their operations. The inventors and manufacturers are seeking for such practical applications in arenas including eco-conscious buildings and ecotourism grounds as they are introduced here. Benefits from these implementations include improvements in energy conservation, material longevity and streamlining of operation costs as well as inducing ecotourists to come and stay to enjoy sustainable practices. The challenge is not of how to prevent human-induced changes in environment, but rather finding ways and places first to utilize these technologies and yet be feasible economically. Hydrotect: This patent pending technology is invented by one of leading Japanese plumbing related manufacturers, TOTO. The world’s first super hydrophilic photocatalyst technology enables to form an ultra-thin water layer on a material surface which makes the surface of various materials super hydrophilic (non-water repelling). Any materials coated with this thin-film of super hydrophilicity offer various benefits such as anti-fogging and self-cleaning property (which makes cleaning easier with water/rain). Hydrotect uses the principle of photocatalysis similar to more familiar, photosynthesis. Upon exposure to sunlight, photocatalyst Titanium Oxide absorbs light and produces enzyme just like chlorophyll. This process is rather simple; the ultra violet light (sunlight) produces electrons (anion) and hydrogen ions (cation hole) within the thin layer of Titanium Oxide which react with oxygen and water in the air to produce O2-(super oxide ion) and OH(hydroxyl radical). In result, the layer has strong oxidizing property. The photocatalyst offers decomposition property of various organic substances preventing the growth of bacteria and germs, dirt retention and malodor without

discharging any harmful substances. This property alone leads to numerous practical applications such as in chlorine-free pools〠rain tanks, and toilet bowls. Simultaneously, another property of hydrophilicity is displayed within the layer by Titanium reacting with water/rain in the air to produce OH. Water spreads as a thin layer under the dirt or any other foreign substances that are easily washed away by the flow of water/rain. (illustration credits: TOTO Ltd.) This technology has wide-array of applications in glass windows, exterior walls, ceramic tiles, roofing and tenting and many more, utilizing anti-soiling and fogging property. Power-generating floor: This is a technology of the next generation. This has a promising future as it generates power by people walking on a pad that utilizes resonance mechanism. The performance is expected to be improved by Mr. Kohei Hayamizu, CEO of the Onryoku Hatsuden Co., exerting his utmost effort to make this dream technology come alive in a sustainable society. The mechanism of electricity generation is exactly the opposite of sounds coming out of an audio speaker; imagine people walking on the speaker cone, in this case a floor pad resonating to produce electricity. Experiment is being conducted in JR Tokyo station where these pads are installed at ticket gates. Single person produces one-tenth of a watt which amounts to a daily average generation of 70 kilowatts (Photo credits: Kohei Hayamizu and FujiSankei Business i). Future application may be seen in the board walk of protected areas to light up especially where there is a wiring complication with minimum interference with nocturnal animals’ habitat.

Non-electric automatic sliding door: This is a useful device rather than a technology; it makes us wonder why no one has marketed this great invention until now. No electricity means no motors, no sparks, quiet and smooth movement, no electromagnetic waves, no bungles from cell phones, no interference with precision instruments. Many are in use especially at hospitals where patients with pace makers come and go (Photo credit: Cosmotec). Only body weight is necessary to pull this sliding door open. The door stays open as long as the pressure is on, unlike the conventional elevator which seems to have a mind of its own. The only pitfall is a small child that does not meet the minimum weight to function this door entering or exiting. This can be avoided by accompanied adult and of course it can also be operated manually. Practical applications can be seen in all households and accommodations which has a door with enough space to install a sliding door case especially recommended where aged or disabled persons have difficulty entering or exiting. Energy Management System (EMS): This system comprises data collector, monitor, and control unit utilizing wireless information technology. The monitor (top) allows you to see and set the current and desired room temperature to a nearest degree Celsius with a 24hour timer. The temperature setting and on/off features can also be operated remotely with a cell phone. The accumulative daily, monthly and annual energy consumption can be viewed with a touch of a button (center). The users are also allowed to input targets in terms of energy price unit (yen) to verify and compare from past performances. (bottom) Each data collectors feed back to central operation unit which is remotely controlled and monitored for optimization. This minimizes human-induced wasteful energy such as when one turns on a heater while a window is still open for ventilation. The control center

picks up signal of unusual warming or cooling in excess. Then, customers are kindly asked to cooperate with management plan or setting can also be overridden without them noticing. This system is particularly popular among existing buildings because capital investments are paid back by energy savings in a few years time. Fuel cell cogeneration system: This is an epoch-making new energy source created at your own locality of residence. The first commercial fuel cell from Tokyo Gas Co., Ltd. was installed in Prime Minister's Official Residence in February, 2005. Japanese government plans to further subsidize this system until it goes to a mass production for installation in households by 2009 so that it will be kept under 8,000USD as an initial cost. This system will be readily available by 2015 according to the government plan. The reverse reaction of water electrolysis is a key to this system. Hydrogen moving towards anode and oxygen towards cathode produces electricity. Hydrogen combined with oxygen produces heat simultaneously (illustration credit: Panasonic). Electricity to heat (hot water) ratio produced by this system is 5 to 4, though typical household demands supply ratio of 4 to 5 thus energy conservation needs to further advance to fully appreciate this system. Japanese public caught attention due to its high performance; 33% electricity and 45% heat produced at 60 Celsius or higher makes 78% energy recovery from its source while drastically reducing carbon emission as no combustion takes place within the system. Since energy is produced on site, benefits includes minimum piping and wiring, low vibration and noise, various energy source compatibility such as gas, kerosene, methanol and naphtha. The next generation eco-lodging industry shall incorporate this system coupled with the current renewable energy system to strengthen sustainable operation, finally opening a door to the remote and independent locations especially where the sunlight and wind are of limited sources.

Geothermal air-conditioning: This air-conditioning is purely natural and simple utilizing thermal energy at 5m depth in the ground. In summer, a series of 5 meter holes feed cool air to the cobble layer under the floor for retention of heat. Air is constantly circulated within the building to maintain uniform temperature. Outside average temperature may reach upper 20s degrees Celsius in a case of Western Japan though the ground temperature stays at 15 degrees. This works even better where ground water is available for further cooling. During winter, the system maximizes usage of warm ground temperature at 18 degrees and solar-generated heat combined. The ground temperature is conveniently higher in winter than in summer due to the slow transfer of heat in the ground that makes 6 month time lag (illustration credits: Geopower Ltd.). Highly insulated building can enjoy this unique and reasonable air conditioning system either as a prime or auxiliary air conditioning method depending on the surrounding climate. Many similar models require deeper excavation with larger machinery that is believed to have more impacts on the environment. Conclusion: ‘Ecotourism’ may only be a single word, but it is also a wording that conveys multifaceted meanings that incorporates ecotour products, transportation and lodging. Multiple pertinent industries need to collaborate and interweave the knowledge with wisdom of our ancestors to help create win-win solutions. Introduction and application of innovative technologies may be a single step towards sustainable society though every steps counts to make a visible difference.

With my sincere appreciation for giving me an opportunity to present this topic in the Global Ecotourism Conference 2007 and a wish for a better world tomorrow, I would like to conclude by making this remark; Innovative Technologies‌ They are just the tools to help conserve the nature. The nature is an asset we borrow from our future generations. Return it as our ancestors have left us. Actually, this has been the only way we have this beautiful nature to appreciate today.

References: Hydrotect Technology Power-generating floor Non-electric automatic door Fuel cell cogeneration system Energy Management System Geothermal Air Conditioning

The Latest in Innovative Technologies - Manuscript  

GEC 2007: Masaru Takayama, Executive Director, Japan Ecolodge Association (ECOLA) / TIES Board member - The Latest in Innovative Technologie...

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