【Global  Environment Club of Kojunsha Japan  交詢社地球環境研究会 】


「 Challenge of whiskey from Shizuoka to the world 」

Record of 130th monthly meeting


Title:Speaker: Mr. Taiko Nakamura (GAIAFLOW group)

Recorder: Kazuki Morita


              Speaker Mr. Taiko Nakamura established a whiskey distillery under the goal of "making Shizuoka the world brand". In his talk, he described in details how he will develop his business.

What is whiskey?
              Alcohol, in the context of beverage, refers to drinks containing ethyl alcohol. One of the oldest known alcohol is mead (made of honey), which dates back to 9000 BC. Historically, alcoholic beverages were used in religious occasions. Records of alcohol being used in Gnostic ritual are present dating back to 5th century. The use as a medicine is also frequently recorded. In case of Japan, the oldest record is about 1000 BC, where they were used in temples in religious ceremonies.
              It is said that whiskeys were introduced to Japan in around 1918. Whiskey is a product made from cereals through fermenting for 2 to 5 days and distilling about three times. Fermentation days of whiskey are shorter compared with other alcohols such as Sake. Whiskey after distillation is transparent, but when it is kept in the barrel, the color of the barrel will change and become a familiar amber color.

              There is an alcohol called Aquaviate, which distilled wine drunk since the 1st century. From the viewpoint of distillation, whiskey can also be said to be Aquaviate for barley. The origin of the word of "whiskey" comes from the Gaelic word, "Uisce-beatha", meaning "the water of life". There are two types of notations in whiskeys, ones is "whiskey" including e and the other is "whisky" not including e. The difference between these two is that, "whiskey" is often used in the USA, so it often used in distillers of the American-style, and "whisky" is mainly used in the Irish-style distillers.

              GAIAFLOW group is composed of two companies. The first company is whiskey importing company. GAIAFLOW is importing whiskey not only from Scotland, but also from Netherland and India. Although Indian whiskey may not be familiar, India is the world's largest whiskey production and consuming country. GAIAFLOW also import bottles released by the bottlers. Bottlers are a dealers who buy whiskeys in barrels and bottle them to sell them in their own brands. These whiskeys are imported from Scotland, Belgium and Sweden. The second company is distillation which is the main subject of this talk.
              GAIAFLOW formerly was a renewable energy company. The name "GAIA" originates from the Gaia theory, which states that the earth and the living things are related to each other, and the flow in the sense of life stream. Mr. Nakamura thought about working on the whiskey business when he visited Scotland in 2012. He visited Islay Island and visited the Kilchoman's distillery. Kilchoman is new whiskey venture made in 2005. Although, Kilchoman's whiskeys are very popular all over the world, they were using very old equipment. Therefore, Mr. Nakamura was confident that technological difficulty is not the main issue for making whiskeys. After a while, he met distillery in Chichibu and got advice, and decided to set up a distillery. However, Mr. Nakamura was concerned that an amateur could not sell whiskey from the start, so he decided to start from importing whiskeys.

About whiskey distillery
              Currently there are only 20 distillers in Japan, which is less than other alcoholic beverages. Among them, Mr. Nakamura's distillery started as the tenth distillery in Japan on October 27, 2016. The distillery is located in the mountainous area about 40 minutes by car from Shizuoka city. Distillery requires, high quality water, clear air and large land. The place Mr. Nakamura chose met all of these conditions.

              The distiller and malt crusher were bought from Mercian Karuizawa Whiskey distillery. Eight fermenters are installed in the distillery, four of which uses cedars from Shizuoka. In fact this is the first time in the world to use Japanese cedars for fermenting the whiskeys. For Sake, Yoshino cedar is used as a fermenter, but those cedars are grown specifically to be used for fermenting. In contrast, the cedar used by Mr. Nakamura was not a special cedar, but was converted into a fermentation tank by the craftsman. Shizuoka's cedar fermentation tank is expected give different flavor compared to conventional tanks.

              The distillers are also unique. Distiller are usually heated with steam, but the distiller used in Mr. Nakamura's distillery is heated with wood. Using this distiller, total of over 600 barrels of whiskeys were produced in the past two years. Generally, the distiller is made of copper and the sulfur generated during the distillation is removed by reacting with copper. This removes the sulfur in the whiskey and improves the taste. At the same time, copper is consumed in this process, and the thickness of the wall gradually decreases. Some of the distillers had thicknesses of only about 1 mm. These cannot bear practical use, so Mr. Nakamura decided to exhibit them. Interestingly, it was found that one of these distiller was made in1951, which is very old.
              Mr. Nakamura have employed various aspects of Shizuoka in all of the processes, however only the barrels are not produced in Shizuoka. Actually, Mizunara, a wood that can be used for the barrel grows in Shizuoka. Because it is a unique species in Japan, it can be expected to give a whiskey a distinctive taste. However, in order to use this wood for barrels, it is necessary to age for about twenty years, making the actual use twenty years later from now.
              Scottish law states that whiskey needs to be matured for at least 3 years. Since 3 years have not passed since the first production in Mr. Nakamura's distillery, there is still no whiskey to sell, yet. However, in order to be established as a business, income is necessary. Therefore, there is a system called a "private cask", which is employed by distiller around the world. Private cask is a system to reserve whole barrels before whiskey is completed. The owner can taste the whiskey anytime, and also choose the timing of bottling. Private cask has been successful and were sold out last year.

Q & A
Q: Do bottlers blend into the taste of their company?
A: Yes. The taster buys a barrel of his choice and bottles them.
Q: When I ask for on-the-rock, I get one ice. Is it a standard to use one large ice?
A: To reduce the surface area and make it difficult to melt, one ice often used. In fact any number is okay.
Q: Did Mercian make whiskeys?
A: Although the factory has already closed, it used to manufacture whiskeys aged in sherry barrels.
Q: Is malt, germinated barley?
A: Strictly speaking, malt is a barley with little germination.
Q: (About the fermenter) Does the taste change when whiskeys are made from cedar barrels?
A: Probably, yes.
Q: Is the fire burned for distillation?
A: The same principle as the beaker in the science room. Usually distiller is heated with steam. In the past, coal and firewood was used. Firewood is still used for distillation of brandy even today, but not for whiskey. I adopted the firewood boiler because I wanted to make use of Shizuoka prefecture's forest resources.
Q: What is the time required for a single distillation?
A: 6 hours. I try to end one distillation within a shift of 8 hours a day.

Q: Does someone taste the taste at the distillery?
A: Workers and I do.
Q: When will the wiskeys be commercialized?
A: July 2020.
Q: Does yeast fly in the air?
A: Yes. However, there are many kinds of yeast, and they may not necessary ferment alcohol.
Q: Are you keeping the sold barrels?
A: Yes.
Q: Is production capacity decided by manufacturing machine?
A: The bottle neck is a fermentation tank. It will take 3-5 days.




「Raising environmental venture, venture from university - from woodchip-block to auto driving」

Record of 129th monthly meeting

5th, July, 2018.

Speaker: Hideyuki Itabashi, School of Science and Technology, Graduate School of Science and Engineering and Faculty of Science and Engineering, Gunma University

Recorder: Kazuki Morita



              Speaker Dr. Itabashi specializes in analytical chemistry, but launched a university venture. In his talk, he discussed his future image and prediction.


About research

              Dr. Itabashi currently belongs to the School of Science and Technology, Graduate School of Science and Engineering and Faculty of Science and Engineering, dealing with a wide range of studies from energy to civil engineering. Among them, Dr. Itabashi's laboratory is focused on chemistry and has a policy to freely advance different themes for each student. The laboratory studies heavy metals in the environment, which are the cause of pollution. Widely known examples include Minamata disease, Itai-Itai disease, and pollution at Watsrase River. Speaking of whether the concentration of heavy metals is directly linked to pollution is not that simple. As an easy-to-understand experiment, put heavy metal in both the water tank filled with natural water and the water tank filled with distilled water and put the fish in it, the fish in the distilled water tank dies, the fish of the natural water tank will keep on living. From this, it seems that natural water has a role of detoxifying heavy metals. From this point of view the influence of the Ashio Copper Mine in the Watarase River was investigated. The water from 21 different places in the Watarase River were collected and analyzed. Copper concentrations of about 10 times higher than those of ordinary rivers were detected in water collected in rivers near the copper mine. Examining its source, it turned out that it was oozing out from the waste ore field. However, copper in the river has been detoxified because the concentration of substances which detoxify it was higher. Detoxification was from humic acid, which originates from decomposed animals and plants. It was found that this humic acid bonds with heavy metal and detoxifies heavy metals. Therefore, humic acid was further investigated.


Woodchip block

              There was an inquiry asking about the usage of waste wood. As this kind of waste occurs in large quantities, the dealer was suffering from dealing with it. Therefore, an attempt was made to make this wood chips into an absorbent for lead. However, 400 g was needed to process 1 L of water. Wood chips have a small density, so 400 g will be as big as a large garbage bag. It was necessary to improve. Therefore, when an experiment to make wood alkaline was carried out, it was confirmed that heavy metal precipitated as hydroxide. Also, as a way to realize it cheaply, a method of mixing cement into wood and making it into a cement chip was suggested. The mixture of cement and chips at 8: 2 is blocked, easy to handle, and it can also be used as a filter to pass water well. Therefore, absorption rate of cadmium, which often causes pollution, were measured. As a result, it was possible to confirm the adsorption rate close to 100%. After filing a patent, they asked manufacturer to create the filters. However, the performance of the prototype filter was not good. Dr. Itabashi did not to give up, but changed the idea to use it as a tile. When used as a tile, unlike regular tiles, because it contains wood, the moisturizing performance was excellent.


Other applications of wood chip

              Dr. Itabashi thinks that heavy metals in food will become a problem from now on. Currently in Japan, there are standards for heavy metal concentration in rice, but there are no standards for other crops. If Japanese agricultural products are to be sold overseas in the future, the strict standards of overseas will become a problem when exporting. Therefore, it is necessary to prevent heavy metals from entering agricultural crops. Many of heavy metals entering agricultural crops derive from soil contamination of the field. Therefore, based on the same principle as a woodchip block, Dr. Itabashi thought that he should plant something that absorbs heavy metals in the field. As an examination, the influence was investigated by sowing the fermented bark in the rice field. The concentration of zinc and copper did not decrease, but the concentration of cadmium fell. This result was highly appreciated, and it was also listed in the newspaper. In addition, China was interested in its effect and allowed Dr. Itabashi's group to experiment with a vast rice field about 20,000 square meters. As a result, the experiment was successful and they were able to reduce the concentration of cadmium.


Automatic operation

              Gunma University was adopted as one of the 20 universities for the project established by the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology, and Gunma University decided to set up the Research & Industry Collaboration Strategy Headquarters. The theme of the project proposed by Gunma University was fully automatic operation. Fully automatic operation is automatic driving in a form in which a car moves without any human interference. Automatic operation is classified into levels for each stage, and this fully automatic operation corresponds to Level 4. Normally, development is done in steps, but Gunma University aims to realize level 4 from the start. If such technology is realized, the interior of the car can be used as a more free space. For example, the interior of a car can be made like a living room, or the car can pick up immediately after you leave the office and drink beer inside. Or you will be able to wake in front of your company as soon as you wake up in the morning.

              Currently, the biggest obstacle to realizing this level 4 is that it is difficult to develop software corresponding to every situation. In other words, it is difficult to develop algorithms that can handle both city and mountain roads in a unified way. Therefore, the different approach was adopted which is to limiting places and was realized.

              As a feature of the project, Dr. Itabashi aim to not only create technology partially but also to implement society. To realize this, Gunma University is cooperating with people outside , such as insurance company and communication companies, to develop the software.


Background of venture establishment

              Since venture founded by Dr. Itabashi is a venture originating from university, they aim to further activate Gunma University. There are three policies, which are: bring students from outside, teachers plays the central role, and gather money.

              As a venture strategy, there are four key words: earth, nature, human beings and life. The above woodchips are classified as "Earth" item. The target customers range from domestic and foreign individuals to organizations. For individuals, for example, products in a form that can be used for domestic cultivation can be sold. There are many areas contaminated with cadmium, not only in Japan but also in Southeast Asia and the venture is considering selling heavy metal absorbers to such an autonomy. Apart from the products introduced above, supplements to prevent dementia is currently under development, and currently under test.


Q & A

Q: Why are there so many cadmium contaminated areas in China?

A: Contained originally and some are from fertilizers

Q: Why is the driver on board although it is automatic driving?

A: Drivers are required by law. They are not required on campus.

Q: Soil conditioner is 1 kg 1,000 yen, this price is higher than paper. Why is it higher than paper though it is using things to be disposed?

A: The cost is cheap. We are doing the creation at the disabled facility and it is necessary to pay the money there. We also pay the money to the university.

Q: Huge money is required to decontaminate the soil in Fukushima. Can it be used for radioactive material such as cesium? Can it be used to treat coal ash?

A: We are also studying cesium. It is possible to take it from the water, but it is difficult to remove it from the soil. However, if it enters the soil, there is no worry that the pollution will spread, and the pollution will stay there. Coal ash contains a lot of lead, but it is the cheapest to process at the final treatment plant and that is realistic.

Q: The performance saturates when CO2 or cadmium is adsorbed on the wood chip. What do you do with saturated ones? If it saturates, the role as CO2 absorption may not be meaningful.

A: CO2 anchoring is established as the tree does not rot. Since it is isolated from the circulation of CO2, it is the idea that it contributes to CO2 adsorption in that sense.

Q: The idea that wood is CO2 itself?

A: Yes. While trees are alive, they absorb CO2 and, when they die, they rot and release them to the atmosphere. It can be isolated from its circulation. CO2 absorption is in such a meaning. When heavy metals are washed, the function resumes, but since the waste liquid comes out, it is necessary to throw it away or throw away the filter itself. The soil conditioner breaks down after a while and releases Cd. It is necessary to continue to sow in order to obtain continuous effects.

Q: Does the substance that incorporates Cu flow to the sea?

A: When Cu bonds to humic acid, it gets adsorbed to clay particles and precipitates. In the Watarase river, it is accumulated in the dam. It is strongly bound to humic acid, so the Cu cannot flow alone.

Q: Is it possible to take out and use Cu?

A: There are 500,000 tons accumulated in the dam of the Watarase River. Total is only 100 million yen. The cost of taking out is larger.

Q: How is the weather resistance of the wood chip block?

A: Although it is data if of about ten years since development, weather resistance is high. Almost same as concrete.

Q: Can it be used for roadway material?

A: The manufacturing method is difficult. Almost handmade. It cannot be poured in like asphalt.

Q: Are there restrictions on the size of the wood chip block?

A: Currently there are only 30 × 30 × 6 cm and 30 × 30 × 3 cm. It depends on the size of the frame, and if you use a larger frame you can also create larger ones.

Q: I heard that you can run only on the roads that you've already passed, will you be able to pass the road that is not going in the future?

A: In the distant future, the road which has never passed can also travel. That is Google's aims, not ours.

Q: What are the measures against malicious drivers?

A: Attach the camera and leave the evidence so that it can be determined.

Q: There is a competition as to where to take the standard of automatic driving. If we do not cooperate with large companies we will not be able to meet standards.

A: It is difficult to take the standard. We focus on the surroundings. In Internet, the side using it, such as facebook, google, is making largest profit.

Q: You would not sell a car?

A: No. Ultimately we will use a system such as google

Q: AI and automatic driving will be used for weapons. Will it not be misused there?

A: There is no way to prevent it if someone is abusing it. However, Gunma University is in a position not to undergo military research.

Q: I am interested in preventive dementia supplement. How far is the stage of development coming up?

A: The stage of evaluating the data. It is necessary to compare the group taking the dementia supplement and the group not taking it.

Q: Is it impossible to examine the effectiveness of supplement by MRI?

A: It cannot measure if a supplement is working or not. It can only know if the patient is demented or not.




「A soft earth that influences the change of the sea level」

Record of 128th monthly meeting


National Institute of Polar Research
Mr. Junichi Okuno
(Recorder: Kiyoshiro Okada)

▪Background and overview
The environment on this earth where we live has undergone many changes with climate change. It has been caught as a natural and natural phenomenon that changes with the formation of the Earth and transformation of the periodic position of the sun and the Earth. However, with the development of human beings, the change in the environment that affects the artificial influence has become so big that it can not be ignored year by year. The recent sea level fluctuation is one of them, and it has been on an increasing trend since 1900. The sea level increase is related to inundation and submergence of land, and the severity of sea level change research is widely recognized.
In this lecture, we focus on the trend of the sea level fluctuation up to now and its factors. In addition to the increase and decrease of the seawater quantity conventionally discussed, we will explain from another viewpoint, the crustal movement.


▪Sea level variation
The sea level represents the position where the altitude is 0 m. Since the sea surface is constantly shaking, it is determined from the average value obtained by long-term observation. It is confirmed that the change in the level is called sea level fluctuation and is still changing by about 1 to 3 mm a year. Since it is important in predicting the future fluctuation to clarify the cause of this fluctuation, observation and verification of its actual condition are carried out by various researchers.

▪Three causes of sea level fluctuation
Currently, there are three main factors that are thought to be powerful sources of sea level fluctuation: the first is an increase in seawater volume due to melting of ice such as glaciers and ice sheets. It has been confirmed that the melting of ice is greatly advanced due to global warming, and the second is the expansion of water accompanying the temperature rise of the sea water. Especially the rise in the surface temperature is remarkable, and the increase in quantity due to expansion can not be ignored. The third is due to the change in the shape of the earth's surface.This way of thinking is based on isostasy(The theory that the crust is formed by the equilibrium of the load of the crust and the buoyancy force acting on it, floating in the upper fluid mantle).


▪Actual condition of each cause
The sea level has risen by about 20 cm in the last 100 years, the main causes of which are the fact that the contraction of glaciers in Greenland, the Antarctic ice sheet and glaciers around the world is actually observed. Furthermore, it is said that about 30% of sea level rise is caused by thermal expansion of seawater accompanying global warming. When considering in a longer and longer time skeleton, there are cases in which explanation by these two causes alone can not be explained.
Based on the sea level of about 20,000 years ago, it is known that the current sea level melts ice that is enemy to rise by 100 m or more, seawater has increased. However, there are many places where it is not possible to observe a 100 m sea level rise so that sea level rise is measured in the same way around the world in the same way. If the shape of the Earth is unchanged, no matter where you measure it, a 100 m sea level rise should be observed. If this is jammed and can be thought of in a very long time schedule as 10000 years, it means that factors that will cause crustal movements must be taken into account.


Knowing the mechanism of crustal deformation is important for forecasting sea level fluctuations. Isostasy is a theory that we think that there is an earth crust under the soft mantle, the crust is sunk in Mantle based on the weight of the land according to that section, the altitude drops.
Actually, I'd like to see it on a scale of more than 1000 years, the surface of the earth is thought to change like a soft rubber ball.
The huge ice sheet formed during the ice ages pushed the crust deep into the mantle and submerged. When the earth becomes mild, massive mass transfer of water produced by melting of the ice sheet causes crustal deformation by isostasy and is currently observed as various sea level movements around the world.

▪Examples of crustal movements seen in Japan
There are also examples in Japan where the crustal deformation has a large impact. A stratum has been discovered by shell middles inside the current coastline, and we know this that people in the Jomon period routinely threw shells in that place. This means that even though there was only a small amount of sea water, the coastline had advanced to the inner site rather than now. When considering such a case, it is important to consider the influence of crustal deformation as well as increase and decrease of water volume.


▪Prediction of future sea level change
It is known that the concentration of carbon dioxide on Earth has already been measured in units over the past several years and it periodically changes between 190 and 270 ppm. However, the concentration has continued to increase since the 1900's, when the industry was released, and now reaches about 400 ppm. From the rate of increase of the carbon dioxide concentration afterwards, if we predict the three main factors, taking into consideration its warming effect, it is believed that the sea level will rise by about 40 cm in the next 100 years. Islands like Tuvalu and Maldives are submerged and even in Japan. It is estimated that 80% of sandy beaches in Tokyo will submerge.
It is important to understand the behavior of the Antarctic ice sheet in predicting future sea level rise, but there are many unknown and clear parts. Many researchers are currently working on this subject.

The apparent sea level change is not clear only for the amount of ice and water, and the ice sheet and seawater draws in. The earth's crustal deformation caused by isostasy greatly affects the sea level change.


▪Question-and-answer session
Q: When looking at the effect of carbon dioxide, what direction is the earth facing? Does the Earth headed for the Ice Age?
A: The concentration change of carbon dioxide can not be ignored. Periodically thinking now it is heading towards the Ice Age, the theory is that the carbon dioxide concentration has influenced the direction to the ice age
Q: Whether going to the Ice Age or not is the distance between the sun and the Earth?
A: That's right.
Q: The sun is expanding, does it influence?
A: No.
Q: Do the carbon dioxide concentrations become periodic in the age when there is no human being?
A: I do not know the detailed reason yet.
Q: Can you guess the past temperature?
A: Yes. It is required from astronomical point of view.
Q: How about the influence of plants or animal, etc.?
A: Biological knowledge is important for predicting global warming.