THE LATEST FUEL CELL NEWS IN JAPAN, JUNE 2001

Arranged by T. HOMMA
1. National Policy
2. The Establishment of Tokyo Food Recycling Project Joint Force
3. The Development of FC Power Source for Ships
4. Reforming Process
5. Business Activity
6. New Fuel Technology

1. National Policy
(1) Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry
   The Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry made the policy, which is the enforcement on evaluation study of product, to aim for the introducing the GTL. GTL is the most powerful fuel for the FCV. They will start the evaluation study of produced GTL by establishing the small examination plant in Japan during the fiscal year of 2001. Production technology made the policy that they will advertise to the Oil Major and ex-Oil Seller as targets.
   The promoting introduction of GTL is thought to be pushes the early practicability of FCV. Therefore, the correspondence, after the evaluation research will attract a great deal. The Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry received the research result of "the Fuel Cell Practicability Strategy Investigation Meeting", and they concluded by saying, "At this moment, gasoline is the most suitable." On the other hand, the Department has been promoting the research of GTL gasoline by domestic technology from few years ago, through the Oil Public Corporation. From this fiscal year, at Hokkaido, Cosmo Oil, New Japanese Iron, and Osaka Gas joined, and they accelerate the research development by establishing the Test plant, which is 7 barrels per day. However, the technology level of international GTL is very high, and other than this project, they made the policy that they will advertise to the Oil Major and ex-Oil Seller as targets from world wide range. For Oil Major, Exxon Mobile and Royal Dutch Shell are both developing the technology that can produce the GTL from natural gas at marketing scale. Shell is producing at Malaysia, and Exxon Mobile decided to establish the large scaled facility, which can produce 300,000 barrel per day, at State of Qatar. In addition, Sasol of Africa, who is the only country that has the technology to produce GTL from coal gas, made a technology license contract with State of Qatar from this year.
(The Chemical Daily, May 15, 2001)

(2) Ministry of the Environment
   At the Port Island in Kobe city, Ministry of the Environment was promoting to establish the generating plant, which is made out of combination of kitchen refuse management system and FC, and will be build by July of 2001. From same month, they will start the examination operation. This is part of Ministry of the Environment's "Earth Globalization Planning Project", and they are looking for the processes which will be describe below. At first, the kitchen refuse, which will be out break from hotels in Kobe city, will be collected about 6 tons per day, and they will make the Methanol Gas to out break. The methanol gas will be once stored in the gas holder, and the Hydrogen will be discharged. Then it will be introduced to the FC generating plant. The electrical power, which is gained by FC, will be supply to the recharging stand for electrical vehicle. Also the left over gas will be compressed and will be send to the fuel base for buses. Three years from the first day, that they started the examination operation, will be count as proof examination period. By proofing the amount of methanol gas out breaks and the amount of generation by FC, they will aim for its efficient use in way to use.
   On the other hand, "Food recycling method" and "Livestock excretions recycling method" is being enforced, and they are guessing that the cost of FC technology development will go down. The participants are thinking that the social environments, for this type of projects, are going to be ready for the diffusion.
(The Denki Shimbun, May 24, 2001))
 

2. The Establishment of Tokyo Food Recycling Project Joint Force
   The approaches from "Excee", the environmental venture which are the food recycling method target enterprise inside of Tokyo city, the center of the project this time is Bio-Mass Generating Project. They decided to establish "The Tokyo Food Recycling Project Joint Force". They are already building the system, which will generate with the hydrogen from food wastes' Methanol Gas and FC introduction, at Edogawa-Ku. It is planned to complete on October 2001. The Joint Force is trying to much up with this project, and they will advertise targeting hotels, small seller, and restaurant industry to get about 30 factories to take a part of this. Their plan is to arrange "Collecting Box which will make into liquid the kitchen refuse inside the storage unit", which will be called Satellite developed by Excee, to every enterprise, and the tank truck will collect them. If they collect about 20 tons of kitchen refuses per day and do the full operation, they are thinking that the generation amount will reach 200kWh per day, which is the amount of more than 50 residential use.
   The reason that this type of system is being paid attention is because of the enforcement of food recycling method from May 2001. Until now, the kitchen refuses were burnt and buried, but with this method, the enterprise which will waste more than 100 tons in a year will be penalize with fine.
(Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun and Sankei Shimbun, May 22, 2001)
 
3. The Development of FC Power Source for Ships
   Japan Marine Science and Technology Center (JAMSTEC) loaded the original developed PEFC as a power source on "Urashima", which is the uninhabited abyssal cruising investigation machine, and they announced that they are planning to start the operation on the fiscal year of 2002. This PEFC has out put of 4kW(2kW.2 unit), voltage is 120V, and they are fit inside the water resisted pressure container. The fuels, which are Hydrogen Gas and Oxygen Gas, are stored in different containers, and it is possible to cruise in 300km. The water, which will out break in process of generating, will keep the hermetically. Therefore, they chose the structure of not letting the water to come out from the container. From now on, they are going to work on the development of technology, which will make hydrogen and oxygen to out break from the seawater, and it will make the self supplying of fuel for FC. Urashima has measuring device, and it can measure the seawater's data and possible to collect the samples. It can also go down to 3,500m below the water level. Right now, lithium ion battery is being used for power source, but second battery can only cruise for 100km. Therefore, they decided to use the FC.
(The Chemical Daily, May 21, 2001)
 
4. Reforming Process
(1) Osaka Gas
   As a reformer of PEFC, Osaka Gas announced that they developed a high performance CO removal catalyst process which can remove CO concentration to less than 1ppm. In this process, the selective oxidation reaction of CO and methane reaction are carried out at simultaneously. The catalyst used in this process is a ceramics type oxides containing ruthenium. Since the CO selective oxidation reaction and the methane reaction by CO and hydrogen are occurred simultaneously using this catalyst, the total reaction heat can be kept low. As a result, the temperature rise inside the reactor will be smaller, and the temperature of the reactor can be controlled by one step. Thus the catalyst can be maintained well; the durability of 10,000 hours was proved. They are planning to provide as a test for PEFC makers starting in July 2001. They said that the cost and the size of the CO remover will be about half of the former remover. In the future, they will continue to promote the proof test aiming for the durability of 90,000 hours.
(The Japan Industrial Journal, Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun, May 14, 2001, Nikkei Sangyo Shimbun, May 15, 2001)

(2)Tokyo Gas
   Tokyo Gas announced that they developed a high performance desulfurizer, which can easily remove sulfur component included in the town gas and LPG, the raw fuel of PEFC, at room temperature. They developed high performance desulfurizer made of zeolite. Using it five times better desulfurizing performance can be obtained than the traditional desulfurizer. Therefore, the amount of desulfurizer needed will be reduced to 1/5, thus the kost can be reduced to less than 1/2. In addition, since it can be used at the normal temperature, they said that it is the most suitable for the PEFC co-generation system for the household, which requires the flexibility and controllability. They will provide a sample of the desulfurizer to the PRFC co-generation makers and aim for the early commercialization of it.
(Denki Shimbun, Nihon Kogyo Shimbun, Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun, May 15, 2001)
 

5. Business Activity
(1) Social Gathering by Kansai Center of AIST about Technology Basis of Fuel Cell and Hydrogen
   Companies around Kansai area, Kansai Center of National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST), Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI), and Osaka Science and Technology Center established the social gathering (President is Hiroyuki Ikeda: instructor of Saga University) related to the technology basis of FC and hydrogen. The gathering will be held once a month, and evaluations are carried out on a broad subjects related to FC by industry, government, and universities. Also, they will keep a cooperative relationship with fuel cell practicality promoting conference started previously. As permanent members, University of Tokyo, University of Kyoto, Kansai Center of AIST, Kansai Electric Power Company, Osaka Gas, and Iwatani Sangyo are participating the gathering. Sanyo Electronics, Daiwa House, Nihon Battery, Matsushita Electric Industrial, Matsushita Electric Works, Sekisui Chemical, and Takenaka Corporation are secretaries. Japan Gore-Tex, Takuma, and other five companies are joined as members of committee. This fiscal year's activities include the technological examination in the field of the stationary fuel cell and local activities in the Kansai area. In June 2002, they will suggest about life cycle of FC, recycle system, standardization, and LCA (Life Cycle Assessment) to the fuel cell practicality promoting conference.
(Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun, May 10, 2001)

(2)Nihon Sekiyu Gas
   Nihon Sekiyu Gas, the LPG related company of Nisseki Mitsubishi, work actively on the technologies of new energies such as co-generation, LPG vehicles, FC, micro-gas-turbine, natural gas, etc. They will takeover Koa Sekiyu Gas, also the company of Nisseki Mitsubishi group, in this October. By this, they will strengthen the business basis and start to sell natural gas which was thought as the competing energy. According to this takeover, the sales share of LPG will be 17.8%, which is number one in the industry. They already delivered 200kW PAFC to the hospital in Shizuoka as its first machine, and they will continuously deliver them.
(The Chemical Daily, May 11, 2001)
 

6. New Fuel Technology
(1) Kansai Electric Power Company and others
   Kansai Electric Power Company, Osaka Gas, Sekisui Chemical, the body maker of Toyota group, and other 30 companies started the study meeting on a new technology of FC fuel. A large amount of hydrogen is absorbed in the liquid which can be easily treated as gasoline or kerosene. The study meeting will evaluate the practicality of this fuel for the FC. This technology is thought as effective for the lightening of the device which take out hydrogen and supplying hydrogen safely to households. They will carry out the proof test in Aichi and seek for the possibility of diffusion. The new fuel is liquid organic material such as decaline which will be produced by hydrogen reacted with naphthalene and benzene produced from natural gas or exhaust gas. This new fuel contains 8% specific weight of hydrogen and can easily take out and absorb hydrogen. Therefore, the system on the vehicle will be lightened compared to the reforming system of hydrogen from gasoline or methanol. Also, this system does not exhaust any CO2.
(Nihon Keizai Shimbun, May 5, 2001)

(2)Japan Atomic Energy Research Institute
   Japan Atomic Energy Research Institute earnestly carry out the research and development on manufacturing hydrogen and oxygen from water using the thermal energy. They completed the continuous hydrogen producing test device for 50 litters per hour, and started the characteristic tests in each process. The tests will be carried out until fiscal year of 2002. Based on those results, they are planning to conduct continuous hydrogen manufacturing test for 2years starting in 2003. Also, along with that, they will promote research on the improvement of efficiency of hydrogen manufacturing by using separating film or corrosion-resistant materials.
This test device use high temperature heat exceeding 900 which will be provided from hot gas furnace. Raw material water is reacted with compounds of iodine or sulfur; those iodic acid or sulfuric acid are decomposed thermally and produce hydrogen and oxygen. This technology is called "thermal chemical method IS process." A unique part of this method is that it does not exhaust any toxic materials to the outside because the compounds of iodine and sulfur used in the manufacturing are used cyclically in inside the process. They already have produced hydrogen at 1 liter per hour for 48 hours in the laboratory level, and succeeded in the proof of its principle.
(The Chemical Daily, May 17, 2001)
 


-This edition is made up as of May 24, 2001.-