• Research led by Soka University Faculty of Science and Engineering was selected as one of the FY 2020 Science and Technology Research Partnership for Sustainable Development (SATREPS) Projects

2020/06/30 09:00

Research led by Soka University Faculty of Science and Engineering was selected as one of the FY 2020 Science and Technology Research Partnership for Sustainable Development (SATREPS) Projects

    Recently, an international joint research project with African countries promoted by Soka University has been selected by the Japan Science and Technology Agency (JST) and the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) as one of the Science and Technology Research Partnership for Sustainable Development (SATREPS) programs. The theme of the research development issue is " Eco-engineering for Agricultural Revitalization Towards Improvement of Human Nutrition (EARTH): Water Hyacinth to Energy and Agricultural Crops " and the research period is 5 years, from 2021 to 2025 including the preparation period this year. (Project representative: Professor Shinjiro Sato, Faculty of Science and Engineering).

    Since 2017, our university has been making efforts to promote the international joint research project “PLANE3T” (Project Manager: Koichi Kandachi, Executive Vice President) with three Ethiopian universities which was selected for the “Private University Branding Project” funded by the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science, and Technology. Many achievements such as the construction of the Spirulina Culture Pond at Bahir Dar University and the co-sponsorship of the International Environmental Education Symposium, contributed to the adoption of this SATREPS project. For Soka University, this is the second SATREPS project selected after “SATREPS-COSMOS” (Project representative: Professor Tatsuki Toda, Faculty of Science and Engineering). So far, no private university had two SATREPS projects selected from one faculty, and there are great expectations for the university and the Faculty of Science and Engineering toward its international activities.

    In Lake Tana, the largest lake in Ethiopia, which is the target country of this project, the exotic plant water hyacinth (picture 1) covers the surface of the lake, making it impossible for boats to travel, causing environmental and economic problems. Lake Tana, which is also the source of the Nile River, is originally known as a scenic place with a rich natural environment. In order to solve these problems, this project will work on the restoration of a healthy lake ecosystem and will research and develop methods for harvesting water hyacinth as well as the effective utilization of the harvested biomass. The obtained biomass will be converted into nutritious superfood "Spirulina" (picture 2), fertilizers and soil conditioners for producing local agricultural products to improve nutrition for children in Ethiopia, where "hidden hunger" is pervasive.

    The implementation team of the SATREPS project consists of Soka University, being the lead institution and three other Japanese institutions and corporations; Shiga Prefectural University, Shiga Prefecture Lake Biwa Environmental Science Research Center and Mitsubishi UFJ Research & Consulting, and three institutions and corporations from Ethiopia; Bahir Dar University, Injibara University, and Lake Tana Water Conservation and Development Organization. From Soka University, faculty members and graduate students of the Faculty of Science and Engineering Department of Science and Engineering for Sustainable Innovation and Department of Information Systems Engineering, Faculty of Economics, Faculty of Business Administration, Faculty of Education, Faculty of Nursing, and Plankton Engineering Research and Development Center will participate.

    The name of this joint project is “SATREPS-EARTH (Eco-engineering for Agricultural Revitalization Towards Improvement of Human Nutrition)” and will be divided into 4 research themes: 1) Estimating the amount of the water hyacinth biomass using remote sensing technology through artificial satellites and drones and establishing harvesting methods, 2) Development of a process to recover methane gas, biochar (biomass carbonization), and nutrients from harvested water hyacinth, 3) Implement soil improvement using harvested biochar and nutrients, improving crop productivity through hydroponic cultivation, and mass cultivation of spirulina and 4) Commercialization and sales network constructed by a team of academic institutions, faculty of science and technology, industry-academia collaboration to use the mass-cultivated superfood Spirulina. The project will aim to be economical so that it can continuously operate even after the program ends.

    This project aims to contribute to three goals of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs); 15) Life on land, 2) Zero Hunger, and 9) Industry, Innovation, Infrastructure.

    Research representative Professor Sato states, “It is our greatest joy to be able to contribute to help solve environmental, social and health problems in Ethiopia together with the local researchers, utilizing academic and humanistic exchanges made by Soka University and by further developing the effective biomass utilization method that we have been researching. Through this project, we aim to establish science and technology that is useful in the real world of Ethiopia and to foster promising human resources in academia and the industry for the future of both Ethiopia and Japan.
    ページ公開日:2020/06/30 09:00