THE LATEST FUEL CELL NEWS IN JAPAN, SEPTEMBER 2001

Arranged by T. HOMMA
1. National Policy
2. Market Development of PAFC
3. Development and Business of SOFC
4. Development of PEFC for Residence
5. Micro-FC
6. Frontline of FCV
7. Hydrogen Production and Storage Technology
8. Business Activities

1. National Policy
(1) Study Meeting of Strategy Investigation of Fuel Cell; Agency of Natural Resources and Energy
   The private study meeting of the director general of the Agency of Natural Resources and Energy, "Study Meeting of Strategy Investigation of Fuel Cell (Chairman: Professor Kaya of Keio University)" held the meeting on August 8, 2001 and reported the strategies on technological development of FCV and stationary FC. By the concentrated research and development with the cooperation of industries, government, and universities, they expressed that they will complete the proof tests of FCVs and the power sources for the household using and FC by 2005 and will transfer to the large-scale diffusion phase from 2010. The developments of common elemental technologies such as MEA, hydrogen storing technology, on-vehicle reforming technology of liquid carbonated hydrogen fuel, and GTL production technology are the most important issues. For the FCV of which private enterprises are promoting the research and development, they are aiming for the diffusion of 50,000 of FCVs by 2010, and 5 millions of FCVs by 2020. Also, they aim for the diffusion of household and business use FC of 2.1 millions kW by 2010 and 10 milions kW by 2020.
(Mainichi Shimbun, Nihon Keizai Shimbun, Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun, The Japan Industrial Journal, Denki Shimbun, and The Daily Automotive News, August 9, 2001)

(2)PEFC/Hydrogen Utilization Program; The Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry
   The Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry decided the budget requests for the next fiscal year (2002) by putting the point on the "PEFC/Hydrogen Utilization Program" as the technological development related to FC. According to the report of evaluation WG of each field of energy technology evaluation, industrial technology comittee, Industry Structure Council, the hydrogen production using coal gas was thought to be important in the fuel cell development of MCFC and SOFC and took a large part of the budget, however, since the development of PEFC recently has been accelerated, the important point is being transferred to the hydrogen production and utilization technological development. In the pre-final report of MCFC technological development reported in March 1999, there was a suggestion that the use of hydrogen from the coal gas is not realistic, thus it should be established with natural gas first. As the results of them, WG pointed out ; it is necessary to clarify the scenario for the technological development related to FC and fuel supply and also the application of the results, and then to select and decide the technological subjects and resource distribution along with the scenario. Also, it is proper to work on the program-method unifying with the introduction promoting policy.
(The Chemical Daily, August 9, 2001)

(3)Hydrogen Station for FCV; Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry
   On August 4, 2001, the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry clarified the budget requests of 1.4 billions yens for the fiscal 2002 for the preparation of infrastructures for FCV. By installing the hydrogen supplying stations in the metropolitan, they will support the FCV public road driving tests. By 2005, they are expecting to prove the most suitable supplying method in the point of cost and safety and to start making the international standards related to the safety of FCV by exchanging the information with U.S. and Europe.
(Sankei Shimbun, August 5, 2001, The Daily Automotive News, August 15, 2001)

(4)Establishment of FCV Center; Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry
   Considering that the core organization is necessary for the development of FCV, the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry decided to establish "FCV Center" in the Japan Electric Vehicle Association to promote the practical use including the proof driving tests.
(The Daily Automotive News, August 10, 2001)

(5)Budget Requests for FY2002; Agency of Natural Resources and Energy
   According to the Agency of Natural Resource and Energy, the budget requests for fiscal 2002 are 153.2 billions yens which is 38.6% of increase compared to the previous fiscal year. It showed a high rate of increase along with the energy-saving measures. Based on the report from the New Energy section of the Total Energy Investigating Comittee, the amount of new energy supply in fiscal 2010 is decided to be increased to 3% from the present state of 1%; thus budgets for the measures for the support of introduction of solar power generation, solar heat use, and clean energy vehicles and FC are newly established or expanded. For the FC, technological development takes 25 billions yens; especially the technological development of PEFC system will increase to 13.4 billions yens that is 5.2 billions yen increase. Other requests are; 2.9 billions yens for technological development of hydrogen energy utilization, 5.8 billions yens for the clean fuel that is the technological development of environmental measures for the next generation including reduction of sulfurization of light oil, 1.4 billions yens for GTL, and 5.6 billions yens for the DME research.
(The Chemical Daily, The Daily Automotive News, August 31, 2001)
 

2. Market Development of PAFC
(1) Tokyo Gas
   Taking the food recycle law enforced since May 2001 into consideration, Tokyo Gas will start to sell the recycle type PAFC system using garbage as fuel in September. The output power of FC is 50 to 200kW, the garbage from food factories and restaurants are fermented inside the tank, in which methane gas is produced as the fuel for the FC. The cost of the FC itself is 0.5 million yens /kW, and the cost of the equipment fermenting garbage is 30 to 40 millions yens. There is a subsidy for the maximum of 1/3 of the FC cost from the government for the company that installs the system. There are about 2,000 to 3,000 companies which despose of garbage more than 100 tons/year that is the limit of recycle law. Tokyo Gas is aiming to receive orders of more than 10 systems in the first year.
(Nikkei Sangyo Shimbun, August 3, 2001)

(2) Nippon Petroileum Gas Co.
   Nippon Petroleum Gas, a company of the Nisseki Mitsubishi group, received orders of the PAFC system of LPG using type from Nishijima hospital, Medical Corporation, in Shizuoka Prefecture and installed it in a new hospital. The PAFC has the output power of 200kW, made by TIFC, and provides 26% of the total electric demands of the hospital. The thermal efficiency is 39%, and the total efficiency with the hot water supply of 60 to 70 is 80%; thus the energy-saving rate is 31.5%. Even under the disaster such as a severe earthquake, the system can be continuously supplying electricity for 100 hours with LPG tank of 2.9 ton capacity. The cost of the FC system is just below 450,000 yens/kW, and that for the total system is 150 millions yens; however, by covering half of it by the subsidy, it is calculated that the investing cost can be collected in 11 years.
(Nikkan Kogyou Shimbun, August 16, 2001)
 

3. Developments and Business of SOFC
(1) Electric Power Development Co., Ltd.
   Electric Power Development Co., Ltd. decided to develop SOFC as the private electric generator and to start selling them to office buildings, hotels, and hospitals. Within five years, they will establish a new company. The output power of the system is 100kW, and it uses natural gas as its fuel for the moment. The thermal efficiency is more than 50%, and the cost target will be about 300,000 yens / kW. They are planning to sell them combining several systems to one place whose demands of the electricity is 500 to 1,000 kW. Also, they are considering operating SOFC systems in the industrial areas near the seashore using gasified coal gas as its fuel.
(Aasahi Shimbun, August 5, 2001)

(2)TOTO Ltd.
   TOTO Ltd. applies their production technology of ceramic sanitary equipments to the production and materialization of the low cost tubular type SOFC by 2004. They are planning to make the dispersed power generating system as business in a broad field for the housing omplexes and industries. They develop the module with the output power of 10kW class under the contract from NEDO within four years from FY2001. The SOFC production method is the wet method soaking the base material into the liquid raw materials and forms. This method is well suited to the mass production thus can reduce the production cost to 1/10 of the usual vapor deposit method. They have been developing with Kyushu Electric Power Co., Inc.
(Nikkei Sangyo Shimbun, August 2, 2001)
 

4. Development of PEFC for Residence
(1) Fuji Electric Co., Ltd.
   Fuji Electric Co., Ltd., developed the stationary PEFC co-generation system with the output power of 1kW using town gas as its fuel and succeeded in the proof test of continuous 1,000 hours. The reformer, the CO converter, and the CO remover are unified as one compact system. The CO concentration at the out let is less than 10ppm and the reforming efficiency was recorded as 73%. By adapting the direct contact heat exchanger, it makes possible to operate independently without the water supply from the outside even in summer. The PEFC stack and the reformer are put in the container of 1,100mm wide and high and 400mm deep. Also, 60 hot water is stored in the hot water storage. They will start producing the PEFC system with the output of from several kW to 10 kW by fiscal 2002; they will add propane as the fuel for investigation. For the commercialization, they will also target for business use and expect to materialize it in 2005.
(Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun, August 27, 2001)

(2)Osaka Gas Co., Ltd. and Sanyo Electric Co., Ltd.
   On August 27, 2001, Osaka Gas Co., Ltd. and Sanyo Electric Co., Ltd. agreed on the joint research and development of PEFC for the residential co-generation. Osaka Gas supplies detailed information of the fuel reforming technology of natural gas to Sanyo, and they conduct the operation research together. Also, they will improve the 1kW class PEFC for the household that has been developed by Sanyo. The developed 1kW PEFC system achieved the thermal efficiency of 28%. The research period is until fiscal 2003, and they expect to bring it to the market in fiscal 2005. According to Sanyo, the cost at the beginning is expected of 0.6 million yens and will be reduced to 0.4 million yens by the mass production. By using hot water supply, the utility cost of the household whose annual utility cost will be about 150,000 yens, and can be saved by about 15,000 to 30,000 yens per year. Thus the cost for the system installation can be collected within as early as 13 years.
(Nihon Keizai Shimbun, Sankei Shimbun, Nikkei Sangyo Shimbun, Tokyo Shimbun, Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun, Denki Shimbun, The Japan Industrial Journal, Asahi Shimbun, Mainichi Shimbun, Yomiuri Shimbun, and The Chemical Daily, August 28, 2001)
 

5. Micro-FC
(1) Sony Corporation
   On August 10, 2001, Sony Corporation announced that they are entering the FC field by developing the technology that materializes the small sized FC. The electrolyte membrene of this FC uses the compound of carbon molecules 'fullerene' attached with oxygen and hydrogen atoms; the hydrogen ion can move in the electrolyte without water, thus it is not necessary to feed water. This is one of the unique characteristics of the FC that does not require a large and complicated system. Hydrogen, which is the fuel of the FC, is supplied from hydrogen adsoption alloy. Sony has not yet decided what product to make using this developed technology, but if the small-sized FC is materialized, they said that it is possible to apply it to the power source of electric appliances for household use and cellular phones.
(Asahi Shimbun, August 10, 2001, Denki Shimbun, and The Chemical Daily, August 13, 2001)

(2)NEC and others
   On August 30, 2001, NEC, Japan Science Foundation, and Institute of Research and Innovation announced that they developed a super small FC using carbon nano-tube as the electrode. This FC can be used as a power source of mobile devices such as cellular phones. They confirmed that the output power of this FC is improved by about 20% compared with the traditional PEFC using activated carbon. This success was achieved by using very fine and unique characteristic of "carbon nano-horn (horn-shaped protruding with closed end), a kind of the carbon nano-tube, as the electrode material. When methanol touches electrode, hydrogen is produced and reacts with oxygen to make electricity. While making carbon nano-horn with the CO2 laser evaporating method, the platinum catalyst also evaporates. Then the fine platinum particles deposit naturally on the surface of the carbon nano-horn; thus the significant cost reduction is expected compared to the traditional process. Since this process can make the diameter of the platinum particles to 2 to 3 nm, the performance of electrode can be more improved. The energy density is about 10 times of the lithium ion battery. Continuous use for more than 1 month for a cellular phone and several days for a laptop computer is expected.
(Mainichi Shimbun, Yomiuri Shimbun, Nihon Keizai Shimbun, Nikkei Sangyo Shimbun, Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun, The Japan Industrial Journak, Denki Shimbun,k Dnepa Shimbun, and The Chemical Daily, August 31, 2001)
 

6. Frontline of FCV
(1) Toyota Motor Corporation
   On August 23, 2001, Toyota Motor Corporation announced that they gathered persons ralating to Government, mass communications, and environmental opinion leaders to the Toyata Technical Center in California, U.S.A., and showed a FC test car "FCHV-4", and conducted the demonstration drive. Toyota have joined in CFCP, and started the public road test since the end of July. FCHV-4 has a 90kW PEFC and high performance secondary batteries on it and realized the driving range of more than 250 km and speed of 150kW/h.
(Mainichi Shimbun, Nikkan Shimbun, The Daily Automotive News, August 24, 2001)

(2)Honda Motor Co., Ltd.
   Honda Motor Co., Ltd. decided to make the first commercial FCV expected in 2003 by using the pure hydrogen method by considering the superiority of vehicle performance. The sales of the first commercial FCV will be the test sales that the targets and numbers of sales are limited. By realizing the early marketing, Honda intends to improve the corporate image concerning environments and to expand the total line-up of their products.
(The Daily Automotive News, August 28, 2001)
 

7. Hydrogen Production and Storage Technology
(1) Densei, Inc.
   Densei, Inc. in Sapporo-City developed the technology that produces hydrogen by decomposing garbage with the bacteria obtained from termite. This method uses termite bacteria found by Professor Fumiaki Taguchi of Kitazato University and can produce hydrogen in 12 to 24 hours. By the experiment, 658 litters of hydrogen were produced from 250g of apple. Since the decomposition is progressed in the time of 1/2 to 1/3 of the general methane fermentation, the plant can be reduced in size and the operation cost will also be reduced. From now on, they will cooperate with the government and the environmental system makers and plan to construct a test plant within 1 to 2 years. Densei also has been developing the technology for storing hydrogen as liquid by reacting with the organic compounds.
(Nihon Keizai Shimbun, August 7, 2001)

(2)Toyota Motor Corporationf
   Toyota Motor Corporation is said that they have had good prospects for the technology that can extend the driving range of FCV to the level of gasoline vehicles. They may have obtained good prospects in the technology that can load the highly pressurized hydrogen gas container of 700 atm, much higher than the present 250 atm, with securing the safety measure at the car crash and the safety at the filling fuel.
(The Daily Automotive News, August 1, 2001)
 

8. Business Activities
(1) Osaka Gas Co., Ltd.
   Osaka Gas Co., Ltd. constructed a mini-plant producing carbon nano-tubes (CNT) for a kg per day and started the sample shipment to the electronic and automobile makers. Their CNT possesses high purity of 70% and the hydrogen adsorbing ability of 3 wt% that are higher than the top data of the hydrogen adsorbing alloy, thus it is satisfying the utilization conditions as the hydrogen absorbing material for FCV. They will continuously research the new carbon material aiming for the low cost mass production of CNT. Within 3 years, they aim for the production of high hydrogen absorbing CNT of 10 wt%, and expect to accelerate the diffusion of hydrogen absorbing materials and realization of the CNT electrode materials.
(Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun, August 3, 2001)

(2)Eabara Corporation
   Cooperating with electric and gas companies, Eabara Corporation decided to expand the market of the independent generating systems of low environmental loads for factories and stores. Ebara invests to "Energia Solution and Service", the LNG sales company established by Chugoku Electric Power Co., Ltd., Idemitsu Kosan Co., Ltd., Mitsubishi Electric Corporation, and other companies in October 2001. They contracted for the sales and maintenance of small gas turbine and FC that uses LNG.
(Nikkei Sangyo Shimbun, August 20, 2001)

(3)Toyota Tsusho Corporation
   On August 30, 2001, Toyota Tsusho Corporation announced that they made the whole sales agent contract of the FC evaluating system in Japan with Hydrogenics in Ontario, Canada. In September, they will start the sales to automobile makers. The evaluating system of Hydrogenics for FC stack and cells, can analyze the operation conditions of the system such as power generating amount, fuel gas composition, temperature, and humidity. The cost is 12 to 18 millions yens for the cell evaluation and 70 to 200 millions yens for the stack evaluation. They have started to receive the order and expect 350 millions yens of sales in the first year.
(Chunichi Shimbun, August 31, 2001)
 


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