THE LATEST FUEL CELL NEWS IN JAPAN, AUGUST 2001

Arranged by T. HOMMA
1. National Policy
2. Policy of Municipal Community
3. Market Development of PAFC
4. Development of SOFC
5. Research Results of PEFC
6. Development and Business of PEFC
7. Development of DMFC

1. National Policy
(1) Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry
   The Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) and domestic and overseas automobile companies such as Toyota and GM decided to jointly conduct the proof driving test of FCV in fiscal 2002. Nissan, Honda, and Daimler- Chrysler will also join the test. It will be held in the suburbs of Tokyo. The collected data will be used for settling on a standard of safety and environment and for confirming the driving performance. The exclusive gas station will be installed for providing hydrogen needed for the driving test. METI estimates 3 to 4 billions yens of budget in three years from fiscal 2002.
(Nihon Keizai Shimbun, Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun, July 11, 2001)

   The whole picture of the research and development program, which is included in budget requests of fiscal 2002, was made clear by METI. Important subjects declared at the Council for Science and Technology Policy, Cabinet Office (chairman: Prime Minister Koizumi) are life science, information technology, environment, and nano-technology materials. In addition to these 4 subjects, energy and 'manufacturing' technologies are added; they expressed as "while strengthening the development of FC, they are aiming to raise the competition ability in 'manufacturing' industry such as robot." This program will be officially determined at the research and development sub-committee of the industrial technology section of the Industrial Construction Council held in the beginning of August. In the energy field, aiming to spread 50,000 FCV's by 2010 and 5 millions FCV's by 2020, they said to start the preparation of infrastructure such as hydrogen supplying station.
(The Japan Industrial Journal, July 13, 2001)

(2)Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport, Ministry of the Environment
   The Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport, and the Ministry of the Environment arranged the action plan aiming for the diffusion and the development of low polluting vehicles. They expect to spread more than 10 millions LEVs which are presently practical and 50,000 FCV's in early time by 2010.
(Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun, The Japan Industrial Journal, The Daily Automotive News, The Chemical Daily, July 12, 2001, and Denki Shimbun, July 19, 2001)
 

2. Policy of Municipal Community
   The consultative body of Tokyo Metropolitan called "Road Pricing Investigation Committee" which investigates the taxation, road pricing on the automobile traffic which enters the center of the city, opened the final report to public on June 27, 2001. The Tokyo metropolitan designated low-polluting vehicles subject to the discount on the road pricing. Those vehicles are methanol vehicles, electric vehicles, natural gas vehicles, liquidified petroleum vehicles and FCVs. They will collect the opinions from residents of Tokyo and some concerned industries through internet, and they intend to issue it as ordinance after fiscal 2003.
(Nihon Keizai Shimbun, June 28, 2001)
 
3. Market Development of PAFC
   Toho Gas CO., Ltd. has decided to start a large-scale business of PAFC from this summer of 2001 mainly targeting hotels, office buildings, and large-size apartments. There are 11 examples of installation in factories and sports facilities in the area of Toho Gas; however these are still at the level of proof test and have not succeeded yet as business. However, Fuji Electric Co., Ltd. announced to sell two types of PAFC system with the output of 50kW and 100kW whose price is 30% cheaper than the previous one. Using those systems, Toho Gas thinks they can realize the economical level that is not inferior to the usual co-generation system by taking account of the subsidy. These new systems made by Fuji Electric have been used at the Nagoya Washington Hotel Plaza for two years and no trouble is reported.
(Chunichi Shimbun, July 5, 2001)
 
4. Development of SOFC
(1) Electric Power Development Co., Ltd. and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Co., Ltd.
   Electric Power Development Co., Ltd. and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Co., Ltd. announced that they achieved the thermal efficiency of 45.5% by internal reforming type SOFC with the output power of 10kW using natural gas as its fuel. They will confirm the data after operating continuously for 700 hours at Wakamatsu Operation & General Management Office of Electric Power Development by August. The stack with the output of 10kW is constructed by bundling tubular cells with 720mm length that are made by the wet slurry coating method developed by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries by applying the printing technology. They said that this production method could reduce production cost to 1/10 compared to the usual prasma spray method. The reforming is conducted under 0.3Mpa, but by optimizing the reforming reaction temperature range, the problem with pressurizing is overcome. Aiming for the scale-up, the structure will be simplified and reduced its size, and the evaluation on economic and operation will be carried out. They are planning to materialize the development of 100kW class SOFC in few years. By combining the 100kW SOFC with gas turbine as the combined cycle systems, they expect the thermal efficiency will be 50% and the cost can be reduced to 300,000 yens per kW. Also, Electric Power Development is planning to materialize the large-scaled generating plant combined with the coal gasifiction plant of which proof operation will be started in March 2003.
(Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun, July 18, 2001)

(2)Central Research Institute of Electric Power Industry
   Central Research Institute of Electric Power Industry succeeded in analyzing the structure of SOFC electrode materials in atomic level. The material subjected to the observation is lanthanum manganite. It was heated up to 700, near the power generating state, using the heating system installed in the Spring-8, the large-scaled synchrotron radiation facility. Applying the high energetic X-ray, the detailed structure of the material was analyzed by the absorption of the light. The lanthanum manganite electrode is made of lantern, manganese, oxygen, and few amount of strontium. The distance between atoms of electrode is varied with respect to the amount of strontium. Also, they were able to observe the way that this distance expands by several % compared to that of at the normal temperature. The analysis of heavy atoms such as lanthanum requires high-energy light, thus this kind of observation is not used to be possible. However, the X-ray of Spring-8 is extremely strong that can penetrate the heating system, thus the detailed part of the material at the high temperature state was eble to be observed.
(Nikkei Sangyo Shimbun, July 18, 2001)
 

5. Research Results of PEFC
(1) Tohoku University and KAIST, South Korea
   Assistant Professor Terasaki of Tohoku University and Korea Institute of Science Technology developed a method that composes regularly aranged nano fine porous carbon that can carry the highly dispersed nano particles of platinum. This method is the universal strategy for composing the nano fine porous carbon in which the fine pores can be arranged regularly. Those pores have 6nm of internal diameter and 9nm of external diameter and are uniform and controllable. This method can carry the platinum nano-particles extremely highly dispersed that none of the general micro fine porous carbon materials could. This method uses meso-porous silica which has regular arrangement as the mold. Taking off that mold, a carbon lead framework with partly in order is formed. A diameter of the platinum cluster can be controlled to less than 3nm. By highly dispersing them, it is expected to activate the electrode catalyst that is effective for the reduction of oxygen.
(The Japan Industrial Journal, July 9, 2001)

(2)Clean Energy Center, Yamanashi University
   Professor Watanabe of the Clean Energy Center of Yamanashi University succeeded in developing a new catalyst that selectively removes CO. The principal of this catalyst is that CO is effectively converted into CO2 by reacting with oxygen inside the porous of zeolite carrying metal. When platinum-iron alloy is used as the carried metal, 100% of CO will be converted to CO2 even at the temperature of 100. Hence, because of the unique adsorption effect of zeolite, CO and oxygen are condensed inside the pores, and CO is selectively oxydized on the cluster of the carried metal. When using mordenite-type zeolite as the carrier, selectivity and activity of the oxydation were improved. Also, the activation of the oxydation reaction was improved more by using paltinum alloy with ruthenium and iron than pure platinum. There was not any catalyst known that converts 100% of CO to CO2 at the oxygen concentration of quantitative theory, thus it is thought to be very beneficial as the fuel pre-reforming catalyst for PEFC.
(The Chemical Daily, July 9, 2001)
 

6. Development and Business of PEFC
(1) Nisseki Mitsubishi Co., Ltd.
   Making the FC division of New Energy Headquarter started in July 2001 as the core, Nisseki Mitsubishi decided to accelerate the development of PEFC using petroleum and LPG as its fuel. They placed PEFC as their most important development issue. For the development of LPG, they will unify the development group of household PEFC of Nippon Ptroeleum Gas Co., and then they try to bring it into the field test. For the other petroleum fuels, other than the presently tested stationary type using naphtha as its fuel, they have started the development of the technology related to kerosene that is said to be difficult to develop. Also, this division is planning to work on the general technologies related to PEFC including the development of clean hydrocarbon fuel (CHF) and hydrogen storage aiming for the diffusion of the FCV.
(Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun, June 26, 2001)

   Nisseki Mitsubishi opened the PEFC system with the output power of 5kW using light naphtha as its fuel to the public on July 12, 2001. This system is installed at the Negishi service station operated by Nippon Mitsubishi Trading Corporation. They started the field test of it. The proof operation will be continued until fiscal 2002, and the operation state is remotely controlled from Yokohama Oil Refinery. The PEFC stack is made in U.S.A.; 36% of the thermal efficiency and 75% of the total energy efficiency are aimed. The size of the FC unit is 1.9m wide, 0.9m deep, and 1.85m high. On the other hand, the reformer is very compact in which desulfurizer, reformer, and CO remover are unified into one. The CO concentration achieved at the out let is less than 10ppm and the hydrogen concentration is 74%. This system is the final proof protomodel aiming for the practical use. The purpose of this system is to supply oil to cars at emergency. This system is expected to operate independently for two or three days at the serious disaster with the fuel stored in the tank located underground. It is assumed that the system can be operated for 1,000 hours with 2,000 litters of stored naphtha. Also, a 300 litter tank is equipped for hot water storage.
(Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun, July 13, 2001, The Chemical Daily, July 17, 2001)

(2)N.E. Chemcat Corporation
   N.E. Chemcat Corporation decided to start the development of reforming catalyst for PEFC. To avoid the duplicate of the development, they had decided not to relate to the reforming catalyst since Angelhard, U.S.A. that is in the same group with them, is developing the reforming catalyst using copper and nickel as the base metal. However, since there is much demand of development of the reforming catalyst using precious metals, from the customers such as automobile makers aiming for the materialization of FCV, they decided to join this field of the development of the reforming catalyst limited on the use of their favorite precious metals.
(The Daily Automotive News, July 21, 2001)

(3)Nisshinbo Industries, Inc.
   Nisshinbo Industries, Inc. decided to expand the supplying system of the separators for PEFC. Presently they are installing the trial size facility that can produce 1 million separators in the research and development center and supplying them to users mainly for the investigation. They will transfer the production to a cotton spinning factory by the spring of 2002, and will produce 2 millions of them per year. Their product is made of formed carbon, and has high hardness. The investment is about 1.3 billions yens. While preparing for the spread of demands of the separator, they also use the spinning factory, which is now forced to the reduction, as the base of the new material and to keep the employment.
(The Japan Industrial Journal, July 11, 2001, Nikkei Sangyo Shimbun, July 27, 2001)

(4)Japan Storage Battery Co., Ltd.
   Japan Storage Battery CO., Ltd. has been developing the technology that reduces the amount of platinum to 1/10 of the present amount. From the experiment using the diffusive electrodes with approximately 60W output, they obtained the result that the platinum is hardly deteriorated by CO. They will complete the 1kW PEFC in 2002, and they will carry out the test for endurance aiming for the practical use of PEFC for vehicle and stationary.
(Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun, July 5, 2001)

(5)Matsushita Electric Industrial Co. Ltd.
   On June 30, 2001, Matsushita Electric Industrial Co., Ltd. announced to enter the market of the household use PEFC co-generation system by the spring of 2004 by reducing its cost. They are planning to use methanol and town gas as its fuel.
(Sankei Shimbun, July 1, 2001)
 

7. Development of DMFC
   Yuasa Corporation, a major company of the car battery industry has been working on the development of DMFC cooperating with the International Center for Environmetnal Technology Transfer as the susiduary business of the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry. On July 25, 2001, they announced that they succeeded in the development of DMFC stack with the output power of 200W. The fuel was methanol solution of 3% concentration, air was used as the oxydizer, and the stack was eble to keep the output of 200W for a long time at 90. They describe that the output was kept steady by adopting their own flow structure on the separator plate and by applying high active catalyst effectively on the electrode. The specification of the trial product are; stack voltage of 12V, the maximum current of 17A, 34 cells per stack, and the size is 336mm wide, 120mm deep, and 132mm high. They will complete the system for the power source for the household by October 2001 and aim for the sales by 2003. In addition, they will try to spread it as the mobile power source and the dispersed power source for the area where the preparation of the electricity infrastructure is difficult.
(The Chemical Daily, Nihon Keizai Shimbun, Nikken Sangyo Shimbun, Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun, Denpa Shimbun, July 26, 2001)
 

-This edition is made up as of July 31, 2001.-