THE LATEST FUEL CELL NEWS IN JAPAN, OCTOBER 2001

Arranged by T. HOMMA
1. Fuel Cell Projects Subsidized by NEDO
2. Development of PEFC
3. Demonstration and Market Entry of PEFC
4. Development, Demonstration and Market Strategy for Domestic Application of Fuel Cell
5. The Front of FCV
6. Ultra Micro FC from Honda
7. Business Activity

1. Fuel Cell Projects Subsidized by NEDO
   NEDO decided 31 private companies to grant subsidies for commercializing industrial technologies, such as Toyota Motor Corp., Yokohama Rubber Co., Nippon -Mitsubishi Oil Corp. Subject of Toyota is to develop distributed co-generation system targeted for next generation which is efficient and environmentally-friendly, through hybrid system of MCFC and micro gas turbine and demonstrate it at Japan International Exhibition held at Nagoya in 2005. Nippon-Mitsubishi Oil plan to develop efficient PEFC system fueled kerosene after highly desulfurized. Maximum subsidizing rate is 1/2 or 2/3 and the limitation of budget per one subject is 30-100 million yen.
(The Daily Automotive News September 6, 2001)
 
2. Development of PEFC
(1)Development of New Electrolyte Membrane for PEFC
   Sekisui Chemicals Co., Ltd., National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology, Chiba Institute of Technology jointly developed electrolyte membrane for PEFC which has thermal durability 3 times higher than ever. This electrolyte membrane is made of mixed material based on resin of polyethylene oxide including silicon about a half of base material and the maximum operating temperature is 200-250 C. In case using Octane or Hexane, operating temperature up to 350 C was possible. In developing PEFC, CO issue can be resolved if high temperature operation of electrolyte membrane becomes possible and high temperature effluent heat from the plant would be more valuable and the heat recovery system becomes simple at the same time. Joint research group expect that this leads to extension of PEFC market. Remained subjects is to improve the material strength which results in decrease of thickness and increase of ion conductivity.
(Nikkei Sangyo Shimbun September 6, 2001)

(2)Discovery of New Electrolyte Material
   Professor Masayuki Nogami of Nagoya Institute of Technology discovered that Phosphoric Silicate Glass made by Sol-Gel Process has a stable proton conductivity under wide temperature range from -20 to 130 C. The value of ion conductivity under 130C and 100% relative humidity is 0.06 S/cm and does not occur freezing phenomenon and it indicates 0.01 S/cm even under -20 C as the result. This material is expected as candidate of membrane post Nafion.
(Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun September 7,2001)

(3)Development of Aluminum Separator
   NDC is to challenge development of metal separator using patented technology of casting pure aluminum into thin product, which is difficult material to cast by conventional technology. Mass production will be ready within this year after they organizes cooperative companies during this October, who have potential of surface treatment technologies strong for thermal electrolysis corrosion. In case using carbon material, separator thickness must be about 15 mm, however, it becomes 1/5 in case using metal and it results in cost reduction and compactness. NDC already succeeded a trial fabrication of separator which is 4 mm thickness and grooves for reaction gas supply is clearly formed on the plate. They also finished performance verification by trial product treated gold plating under cooperation with PEFC fabricator.
(Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun September 27,2001)
 

3. Demonstration and Market Entry of PEFC
(1) Ebara Corp.
   Ebara installed PEFC power generation system at Nishimachi Sewage Treatment Center of Tomakomai City in Hokkaido which uses digester gas as fuel generated at the center. The system is consisted of two units which are 250 kW class unit made by BGS (Ballard Generation System) shipped from Ebara-Ballard in Japan and digester gas treatment unit and makes use of effluent heat. Demonstration test is scheduled to continue until November 2002.
(Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun, Nikkei Sangyo Shimbun, Nihon Kogyo Shimbun September 27, 2001)

(2)Toshiba/ International Fuel Cells
   Toshiba and IFC jointly made and published a strategy for technology release. Venders taken part in development of their PEFC can release their technical fruits to other company by this strategy. PEFC is now under development and the cost is level of several million yen per kW and it must be decreased down to 1/100 in order to commercialize PEFC. Therefore, both companies thought that they sell their fruits to companies who did not participate the development and the technology improvements for PEFC to commercialize can be advanced by more participants through the deal and it leads to development of mass production and cost reduction technology as the result. Their target is to reduce plant cost down to 100000 \/kW. Toshiba and IFC jointly established TIFC(Toshiba-IFC) in spring 2001 and they have been developing PEFC of 1-150 kW. Employees of IFC are 800, of TIFC are 100 and of Hydrogen Sources which is joint venture company between Shell and IFC to develop reformer are 80. And total members are about 1000 and TIFC is in charge of development of 1 kW and IFC is in charge of 5-150 kW.
(Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun September 28, 2001)
 

4. Development, Demonstration and Market Strategy for Domestic Application of Fuel Cell
(1) Mitsui & Co., Osaka Gas Co.,Ltd. ,H-Power Co.
   Mitsui announced that they started development of fuel cell cogeneration system for home use in Japan on September 4, 2001, collaborating with H-Power in USA. H-Power Japan was established on August 29 by co-investment of the above 3 companies. Mitsui and H-Power Japan have been fabricating 500 W PEFC for home application, using reformer developed by Osaka Gas and they have a plan to make up new Japanese market through sales of the 500 W PEFC cogeneration system as strategic product. They will make strategic plan including market survey, maintenance and monitoring network and market strategy by May 2002.
(Nihon Keizai Shimbun September 4, 2001, Denki Shimbun September 5, 2001)

(2)Fuji Electric Co.,Ltd.
   Fuji succeeded 1000 hr continuous operation of the first 1 kW PEFC proto type unit fueled town gas. Long and stable operation have been attained after start up and shut down test of more than 10 times simulating actual operating conditions. The PEFC stack consists of 60 cells which electrode area is 100 cm2 and internal water supply method which self sustaining of water balance is possible and gross efficiency of DC base is 38%. Effluent heat is recovered and stored as hot water. Developing schedule from now on are confirmation of reliability of reformer, cost reduction and fuel diversification and then they commercialize it by 2005.
(Denki Shimbun September 7, 2001)
 

5. The Front of FCV
(1) Honda Motor Co.
   Honda published new compact 4 seats car of FCV "FCX-V4" on September 4, 2001. Which uses compressed hydrogen fuel (350 atm). They improved driving distance from 180 km by conventional to 300 km by this new one per one charge and maximum speed is 140 km/Hr, 10 km/Hr faster than ever. PEFC stack as power source is made by Ballard and the output power is 78 kW and they attained a compactness by new design. Their target is commercialization in 2003 through driving test.
(Yomiuri Shimbun, Nihon Keizai Shimbun, Tokyo Shimbun, Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun, Nihon Kogyo Shimbun, The Daily Automotive News, The Chemical Daily September 5, 2001)

(2)Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd.
   Mitsubishi fabricated 45 kW PEFC fueled through methanol reforming all by their own technologies without membrane and installed at under floor of one box car made by Mitsubishi. They confirmed 70 km/Hr through verification test at their test course. However, they judged that stationary power generation must be commercialized first and then FCV will be commercialized because subject of infrastructure must be resolved in advance in case of FCV. Therefore, they decided to develop several kW class PEFC for domestic application cooperating with Daimler Chrysler.
(Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun September 14, 2001)
 

6. Ultra Micro FC from Honda
   On September 4, 2001, Honda announced that they successfully developed the Ultra Micro FC utilizing the semiconductor manufacturing technology, cooperating with Stanford University of USA. Honda plans to apply this technology for robot and electrical appliance installed on vehicle. In this FC, the hydrogen and oxygen path are minutely grooved on 0.8 mm thick silicon-wafer, and hydrogen and oxygen flow through several mm thick cell and generate electricity. Utilizing ultra thin film manufacturing technology, it became possible to line up the cell basement on plane something like a semiconductor and this resulted in realization of ultra micro FC. Single cell is thin and 1 cm square, and 16 cells can be arranged in case of 10 cm diameter circular basement. With simpler construction comparing conventional stacking cell, higher power density and simpler manufacturing process can be realized, and Honda expects high possibility that this leads to " As well as stable quality, large scale mass-production will come true". And Honda will report at 200 ECS seminar which is being held now in San Francisco.
(Mainichi Shimbun, Sankei Shimbun, Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun, Nikkei Sangyo Shimbun, Nihon Kogyo Shimbun, The Daily Automotive News, September 5, 2001, Asahi Shimbun September 6, 2001)
 
7. Business Activity
(1) Toyota Motor Corp.
   On September 6, 2001, Toyota announced that, they developed FC co-generation system fueled hydrogen and CO derived from waste gasification under high temperature of above 1300 and will exhibit the demonstration plant at Aichi International Exposition in 2005. Named "Hybrid Co-Generation System" are developed by cooperative work with Professor Masanobu Hasatani and Professor Masaru Morishige of Nagoya University. Considering the Car Recycle Law to be effective from 04, Toyota has intent to utilize refused car dust for the fuel in future.
(Chunichi Shimbun, September 7, 2001)

(2)The Chugoku Electric Power Co., Inc.
   Chugoku Electric Power will newly establish R & D facility for energy utilizing technology at R & D oriented industrial district " Soft Business Park, Shimane" arranged by Shimane prefecture ,which will be opened from October 25, 2001. The facility will be prepared as R & D center for total energy service, including LNG and coal and R & D for high efficient dispersed generation system such as FC, bio-mass power generation, micro gas turbine and also how to recycle coal ash from thermal power station.
(Chugoku Shimbun, September 14, 2001, Nikkei Sangyo Shimbun September 18, 2001)

(3)Marubeni Corp.
   Marubeni decided to participate in FCV promotion committee jointly established by Methanex, the biggest methanol supplier in the world, Mitsubishi Corp. and Mitsui & Co., Ltd. Marubeni will contribute to establishment of methanol supply infrastructure, cooperating with motor companies, oil companies and public agencies.
(Nikkan Gogyo Shimbun, The Chemical Daily, September 20, 2001)
 


-This edition is made up as of SEPTEMBER, 2001.-