THE LATEST FUEL CELL NEWS IN JAPAN, FEBRUARY 2001

Arranged by T. HOMMA
1. National Policy
2. Market Development of PAFC
3. MCF and SOFC
4. The Proof Operation Examination of PEFC
5. The Development and Commercialize Project of PEFC

1.National Policy
(1) Liberal-Democratic Party
The Liberal-Democratic Party (LDP) inaugurated the "league of Diet members to promote the FC (FC Promotion League"). This league was established with Governor Takami Etoh, a member of the House of Representative, as a representative initiator. The object of the league is to support the technological innovation, diffusion, and development of the FC and to promote the drastic revolution of FC utilization to the social system. It is planned to develop the FC policy under the cooperation with the government offices concerned. Governor Mitsuhiro Uesugi, a member of the House of Council said, "FC should be placed as the national strategy of Japan; however, a large amount of metal hydrate is deposited near the Sea of Japan, thus those metal hydrate should be used as the fuel resource. It is important to set the development of the mining technology in earnest." Governor Yoshio Nakagawa, a member of the House of Council said, "The present system of an electric power supply which the electric power is sold only through the electric power company must be broken down. There is a limit with the present law," thus he showed the development of the policy including a revision of the law.
(January 17, 2001 Kagaku Kogyo Nippo)

(2)Agency of Natural Resources and Energy/Report of FC practicality strategy meeting
The FC Practicality Strategy Meeting (chairman: Professor Yoichi Kaya, Keio University), a private meeting of the Chief of the Agency of Natural Resources and Energy, put reports together. The report is divided into three time periods from the present time to after 2010, the year, which an earnest diffusion of FC is expected, and scenarios for each time period were drawn. Also, in the report, they proposed the technological development and measures should be done during each time period and stated the expectation on the selection of the fuel cell.
The issue on the practicality and the diffusion of the FC are 1) improvement of the basic performance of FC, 2) improvement of economic, 3) preparation of infrastructure and development of fuel cell, 4) preparation of regulation and standard, etc. In the three-step scenario, they placed years 2000`2005 as "technological proof stage", 2005`2010 as "introduction stage" of products, and after 2010 as "diffusion stage."
The expectation on the selection of fuel for the FCV, the initial introduction is possible with pressurized hydrogen or methanol at this point of time, but even with that, it is limited to the vehicle under the fleet drive mode between the specified points. In near future, there are possibilities on the use of "clean gasoline" in which impurities such as sulfur are removed and the use of liquid combined fuel (GTL) produced from natural gas. In the long period of time in the future, hydrogen is most likely to be used, thus the report stated that the establishment of a storage technology on the vehicle and the construction of the hydrogen supply infrastructure are expected.
With these developments of the technologies, it suggested that 50,000 of FCV and 2.1 million kW of stationary fuel cell will be introduced by 2010, and 5 million of FCV and 10 million kW of stationary fuel cell will be introduced by 2020.
(January 23, 2001 Asahi Shimbun, Yomiuri Shimbun, Mainichi Shimbun, Sankei Shimbun, Tokyo Shimbun, Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun, and Nikkei Sangyo Shimbun; January 24, 2001 Kagaku Kogyo Nippo, Denki Shimbun, and Nikkan Jidosha Shimbun)

(3)Agency of Natural Resources and Energy/Development of FC combined electric generation using gasified coal
Aiming for a high efficiency on generation method using coal, the Agency of Natural Resources and Energy decided to work on the technological development on FC combined electric generation system using the gasified coal in earnest. In Wakamatsu Total Laboratory (Kitakyushu) of Dengen Kaihatsu Co. Ltd., the construction of the proof plant will be completed by July 2001, that is 1 year earlier than it was originally scheduled, and the plant will be operated by 2002. The thermal efficient will be improved to 55%, which is 15 points higher than the former coal thermal plant, and the exhaustion of CO2 will be reduced about 40%. The output power of the plant is 30,000 kW and use 150 tons of coal per day. In the practicality stage, 1 million kW class plant is expected. The present condition of coal thermal plant in Japan requires the use of a high quality coal by selecting it. However, by using this technology, the coal is gasified, thus quality of the coal is regardless. Also, 1% improvement of the thermal efficiency reduced 2.5% of CO2 exhaustion, thus the Agency of Natural resources and Energy calculated that 40$ of CO2 can be reduced by this technological development.
(January 18, 2001 Japan Industrial Journal)

(4)NEDO/LP gas PEFC for households
Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry will start a project on the development of LP gas PEFC system for households in the next year. As a contracted project to NEDO, they aim the realization of the system as a 5-year plan starting from FY 2001. The budget of the first year is about 0.27 billion yens and is 1.42 billion yens as a whole project. Since FY 1992, NEDO has carried out the research and development of PEFC for both transportation and public welfare, and "Phase III" will be started from the next fiscal year as 4-year plan. Along with that, they will also work on the development project of LP gas PEFC system for household use only. The target of this development is to achieve 35% of the thermal efficiency and to reduce the size of the hydrogen-producing device to less than 80% compared to the present device. LP gas occupies 54% of household gas demand and is supplied broadly in Japan. Because the supply network has been already well developed, and LP gas has a good environmental property as LNG, the LP gas is superior as the fuel for the small, dispersed power source on FC, and the utilization is expected.
(January 26, 2001 Denki Shimbun)
 

2.Market Development of PAFC
On January 17, 2001, Toshiba commercialized "UPS Integration System" which is an electric unfailure power source with PAFC as its power source, and Toshiba started the sales on the same day. Compared to the former UPS, the running cost can be reduced 15% to 25%. Also, the conversion loss of the electric power is reduced to half. In addition, the power generated by FC at the normal condition is supplied to the unconnected device to UPS, thus the receiving power can be reduced, and the exhaust heat produced at the generation by the FC can be used as co-generation. Set of the reserved fuel enables the continuous operation of FC when the gas supply stopped at the disaster, thus electricity can be supplied continuously to important devices and some general devices. The cost including the construction and a trial operation will be 0.14 million yens. They expected to sell more than 100 thousands to data centers and hospitals in the first year.
Output power of 200 kW PAFC is used in this system. By supplying electricity simultaneously to both general loads and important loads for emergency, FC can always be operated with a high efficient rated load. The electricity can be supplied from FC at the electricity failure, thus battery is unnecessary. Also, at the disaster such as an earthquake, the electricity can be supplied for about three days with 2.9 tons LPG tank reserved fuel.
This UPS system was developed jointly with Tokyo Gas, Osaka Gas, and Toho Gas started from October 1999. In June 2000, the system was installed in Toho Gas and conducted the basic performance confirming test and the proof test. Since the inspection has been completed, it is commercialized as the first one in the industry. Although the introduction cost will be higher than the former UPS, the subsidy can be received by NEDO at the introduction of this system. The ratio of the subsidy is 1/3 for the public welfare and 1/2 for self-governing body. If 1/3 of subsidy is received by the public welfare, initial cost will be collected within 4 to 5 years.
(January 18, 2001 Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun, Denpa Shimbun, Japan Industrial Journal, Nikkei Sangyo Shimbun, Denki Shimbun)
 
3.MCF and SOFC
From a standpoint of valid application of the preservation and the resources on the earth environment, The Central Electrical Power is proceeding aggressively on the technology development of FC and on the research development, which aimed for proof introduction. About SOFC, they put an attention to the MOLB method, which is expected to make things compact. On the year of 1989, they started the basic research. In 1990, they proceeded the development by cooperating with Mitsubishi Heavy Industry, and by 1996, they materialized to make an electrical out put to 5.1 kW. After that, to strive for improvement on the durability and the reliability, they developed new type SOFC, T-MOLB, and by 1998, they materialized the out put density 0.35 W/cm2. In last August, they achieved the world highest out put of 15 kW with the monotonous method, and they succeeded on a long time electric power generation over 3000 hours.
About the other MCFC, they put the operation research result of 1000 kW class of MCFC electric power generation plant as a base, which is proceeding in the same group of Kawagoe Electric Power Station with received commission from NEDO. With that result in mind, they are planning to develop the highly efficient module (750 kW class) in 5 years in between 2000 to 2004. Therefore, they are making the research development activity very aggressively.
(January 9, 2001 Denki Shimbun)
 
4.The Proof Operation Examination of PEFC
The Tokyo Electrical Power will purchase two of 3 kW PEFC. From the end of March, at the Technology Development Center, they will start the evaluation examination on assumed system of application to small and medium-sized buildings and to household. So far, electric power companies have done the elemental research, but this is the first time to construct the system and do the actual evaluation examination. "If excellent PEFC systems are materialized, we will strive for the business introduction," stated by the head of the same group, and they are putting in the field of vision of dispersion power source business followed by the Micro-Gas Turbine. Out of the two 3 kW PEFC, one of them will start the examination from March with the LPG as a fuel, and the other one will be purchased in the year and planning to do the examination with the city gas as a fuel.
(January 25, 2001 Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun)
 
5. The Development and Commercialize Project of PEFC
(1) Nisseki Mitsubishis
Nisseki Mitsubishi made clear the project that they will earnestly invest the household PEFC at market in the year of 2004. By the end of January, they will start up the proof plant in the building of the Yokohama Oil Factory, and they are proceeding the development, which is aiming for the commercialization. This system will be expected to have overall efficiency between 70% to 80% with the co-generation method. The examination inside the laboratory has been already tested, and by 3 years from now, they will make the standard type of 1kW power generation system and will invest at the market at the price around 1 million yens. At the end, they are thinking of lower the price to around 200,000 yens.
(January 4, 2001 Yomiuri Shimbun)

(2) Tokyo Gas
The Tokyo Gas is promoting the development activity aggressively to aim the practicability of residential co-generation system with PEFC by year of 2004. However, they also participate in the resource circulation type residential development, which is proceeded from the Economic Industrial Department. Their developmental concept is "the hot water providing system by gas which can also produce electricity." They can cut down on yearly heating and lighting expenses about 20%, and if they can keep the initial investment around 500,000 yens, and then, they can think of estimation about possibility of spreading. In the testing calculation, in case of introduction of PEFC household co-generation system, they can cut down 24% of exhausting amount of CO2 compare to the present circumstances of rely on the city gas and electrical power purchase. They are thinking that the key to improve the overall energy efficiency is the effective use of the heat produced by the floor heating system.
(January 9, 2001 Nikkei Sangyo Shimbun)

(2)Toshiba, IFC, Shell
Toshiba is going to establish the combined company "TIFC" with American IFC for FC development on April of 2001. Toshiba will transfer the entire staff of the FC Development Department to the new company, and they will promote the development of PEFC stack to proceed the mass production. The Financing ratio is that Toshiba have 51% and IFC have 49%. IFC is also planning to start the combined business with English Shell for the stack development of vehicle PEFC. With this plan, they will compose the Japan-America-Europe Union with the IFC as an axis. IFC is developing the 50kW vehicle PEFC with applying the gasoline reformer. The purpose of the combining both Toshiba and IFC is to accelerate the specialized development on PEFC. On the other hand, the target of combining with Shell will be the development of the reformer for all sorts of fuel, for example, methanol, natural gas, and etc.
Toshiba is in the middle of developing 1 kW PEFC 4 Unit, which will be completed in FY 2000. Also they are in the middle of developing 10 kW PEFC 4 Unit with IFC. In addition, they are undertaking 30 kW type, which is commissioned by NEDO. These developments of the fixed type PEFC will be taken over by TIFC here after. With the three companies together, they are aiming for an early stage market introduction of the fixed type and the vehicle type, and for the price, which is the biggest task of all, they are thinking of lower to 150,000 yens/kW as a target. For the partial charge of a role, TIFC will introduce the inverter and the reformer, which use the fuel as the LPG and the city gas, and IFC will arrange the whole. On the scale of the system, TIFC will take charge in under the 10kW system, and IFC will take charge in over 10 kW system. Three companies as a Union, they are planning the mass production of 10 kW machine from year of 2003 and 1 kW machine from year of 2005 to sell them.
Furthermore, the Korean Modern Times Vehicle's FCV, who is participating in the FCV Traveling Endurance Proof Test in California which started in November of 2000, has the fuel battery by IFC is loaded.
(January 18, 2001 Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun)
 


-This edition is made up as of January 26, 2001.-