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2018.12.04

【Awards and Commendations】Director/Professor Yasuhiro Kato, Frontier Research Center for Energy and Resources (FRCER), received the top prize at the 2018 Nikkei Global Environmental Technology Award.

On 31st October 2018, Director/Professor Yasuhiro Kato, Frontier Research Center for Energy and Resources (FRCER)/Department of Systems Innovation, received the top prize at the 2018 Nikkei Global Environmental Technology Award, which is presented by Nikkei Inc., on October 31, 2018.
This award is provided to excellent research achievements that will establish the sustainability of global environment by technologies targeting climate changes, renewable energies and energy conservation, material recycle, environment and ecosystem conservation, etc., from the perspectives of uniqueness, future prospects, and feasibility.

● Reasons for winning the Award 
“REY-rich mud around Minamitorishima Island – an innovative resource development system –”
Director/Professor Yasuhiro Kato and his research group discovered deep-sea mud with very high concentrations of rare-earth elements and yttrium (REY) in the Japanese exclusive economic zone around Minamitorishima Island, the easternmost island of Japan, in 2013. The REY are indispensable for various high-tech products, and the “REY-rich mud” has been expected as a novel and promising mineral resource. They demonstrated that the most promising area of 2,500 km2 contains more than 16 million tons of REY resource (as oxides), which accounts for several hundreds of years of global annual demand for REY. Moreover, they established a mineral separation technique to collect REY-concentrating minerals effectively. They aim to realize a commercial development of the mud in 2020’s.
In striking contrast to on-land REY deposits, the REY-rich mud does not almost contain radioactive elements and thus constitutes a new and clean resource for REY. By utilizing the critical elements such as heavy rare-earth elements and scandium that are contained in the REY-rich mud at high concentrations, the REY-rich mud as a domestic mineral resource will strongly encourage Japanese industries through new developments of environment-friendly technologies and highly advanced materials. The achievements of Prof. Kato and his team are expected to contribute to solving global environmental issues.