THE LATEST FUEL CELL NEWS IN JAPAN, DECEMBER 2001

Arranged by T. HOMMA
1. Government Policy
2. Movement in PAFC Market
3. Development of PEFC
4. Development and Demonstration of Fuel Cell for Domestic Application
5. The Front of FCV
6. Hydrogen Related Technology
7. Development and Verification of Fuel Technology
8. Development of Measurement Technology
9. Others

1. Government Policy
(1) Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry
    METI intends to apply three basic policies in large scale demonstration test project of FCV to be held from Japanese fiscal year 2002, such as " no distinction" which foreign company can participate, "data sharing" through information exchange and the compilation and "objective review" by the third party including a man of learning and experience and establish international standard and regulation Mr. Tateoka, Director, Automobile of METI said at International Forum of Electric Car sponsored by JEVA held on November 28,29.
    This large scale demonstration test would be held on public road around the capital and the metropolitan area and the infrastructure such as hydrogen service station and garage necessary for the test will be prepared.
    ( The Daily Automotive News November 30, 2001)

(2) NEDO Business
    NEDO decided to adopt 16 research and development items from 39 proposals as elemental technologies for PEFC, proposed by Electric Power Development Co., Ltd., Nippon Steel Corporation, Matsushita Electric Industrial Co., Ltd., Asahi Chemical Industry Co., Ltd and others. LPG Promotion Center is entrusted for development of LPG fueled PEFC.
    (Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun, Nikkan Kensetsu Kogyo Shimbun November 27, 2001, Denki Shimbun, Tekko Shimbun November 28, 2001, The daily Automotive News November 29, 2001)
   
 
2. Movement in PAFC Market
(1) Kawasaki Steel Corporation
    Kawasaki completed 200 kW PAFC test facility and started the demonstration test under cooperation with Toshiba in a link of improving the function of gasifier, Kawasaki Thermoselect (Maximum capacity : 300 T/D) into higher level, installed and operated at Chiba Works.
    Reformed gas from the gasifier is desulfurized by complex reactor through activated carbon and then shift converted and led to PAFC and it results in electricity and hot water supply. Kawasaki concluded license agreement on the technology of slagging type gasification, with Thermoselect in Switzerland in November 1997 and Kawasaki has improved the technology as waste treatment system by combining with iron making technology.
    Kawasaki started waste treatment business as local recycle of resources, based on this technology through their subsidiary of JRC(Japan Recycle Corporation) co-invested with Mitsubishi Material Corporation. The capacity is 250 T/D (80,000 T/Y) as industrial waste treatment. The feature of their gasifier is not only to burn waste but to target recycle and reuse of waste as resources. Combustible gas from the waste is recovered through clean up system and the remained is recovered as harmless resources to reuse.
    ( Tekko Shimbun November 15, 2001)
   
(2) Fuji Electric Co., Ltd.
    Fuji received an order for two 100 kW PAFC unit from Yamagata City. Total amount of the order is 200 million yen and the fuel is digester gas by anaerobic process from sewage treatment center of the city. And operation of the plant will be started from March 2002.
    ( Nihon Kogyo Shimbun November 21, 2001)
   
 
3. Development of PEFC
(1) NOK Corporation
    NOK succeeded to develop separator integrated with seal for PEFC, cooperated with car company. This separator is made of carbon and resin and seal material such as silicon rubber, low dissolving butyl rubber, fluorine rubber is adhered to separator and finally formed through heat treatment. There was a problem that assembling process was multi stage and took much man hour for the assembling so far because separator and seal were separate parts though separator and ion exchange membrane must be sealed tightly in case of PEFC. It is possible to reduce the man hour and the cost by this development in integration of the two parts. NOK has developed sealing material for fuel cell, making use of their sealing technology such as O-ring or gasket. They realized this time original sealing technology for fuel cell using their specialty. This technology can be applied to end plate of stack and piping and it is expected to reduce stack cost.
    ( The Chemical Daily November 1, 2001)
   
 
4. Development and Demonstration of Fuel Cell for Domestic Application
(1) Alliance of Osaka Gas Co., Ltd., Ebara Corporation, BGS
    Osaka Gas, Ebara Ballard, Ebara Corporation and BGS (Ballard Generation Systems) agreed to cooperate in promotion of research for PEFC cogeneration system for domestic application. Osaka Gas developed efficient and compact reformer and started to license it to several companies. Ebara- Ballard fabricated the first 1 kW proto-type unit of cogeneration system for home use and attained the highest efficiency in the world (gross efficiency of DC/LHV base : 42 % ) in February 2001. Ebara-Ballard and BGS finished test operation of town gas reformer developed by Osaka Gas and confirmed the performance. Under these circumstances, Ebara-Ballard is to start design of PEFC cogeneration system for domestic application, being able to operate 24 Hr continuously, which fuel cell stack fabricated by BPS(Ballard Power Systems) and reformer developed by Osaka Gas are integrated, under cooperation with Ebara Corporation and BGS.
    Promotion for the same kind fuel cell systems would be expected by the above cooperation activity.
    ( Denpa Shimbun October 29, 2001)

(2) Idemitsu Kosan Co., Ltd.
    Idemitsu published on October 31, 2001 that they verified 10,000 Hr durability of kerosene reforming for PEFC through continuous operation test. Reforming catalyst developed by Idemitsu is Ruthenium catalyst called ISR-7G for steam reforming. Kerosene on the market has been used for this continuous evaluation test after desulfurization down to 0.1 ppm and performance decay has not been confirmed for more than 10,000 Hr reforming test. Catalyst performance has been kept by improvement of high temperature stability through improvement of carrier and carbon formation has been able to avoid by optimization of catalyst composition. They also confirmed life of desulfurization catalyst for one year for kerosene including sulfur from 50 to 0.1 ppm. They intend to continue the evaluation test targeting for 40,000 Hr life to commercialize( 10 years system life assumed stopping at night) and fabricate 1 kW class reformer using the catalyst under cooperation with specialized maker in the area and confirm practical capability applicable for domestic in total system operation.
    ( Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun, Nihon Kogyo Shimbun, The Chemical Daily November 1, 2001)
   
 
5. The Front of FCV

(1) Toyota Motor Corporation
    Toyota starts R & D for multi-type FCV reformer which can reform various type offuel. Though reforming process which is easy for infrastructure arrangement is deemed as promising, but it is seen through that various type of fuel, such as gasoline and methanol, will be utilized for depending on the region. Considering easy procurement of fuel and efficiency of development and manufacturing, Toyota concluded that the multi-type has big advantage and started R & D toward realization of this technology. Multi-type will be developed based on the gasoline reformer which has many difficulty to realize technology of high temperature reforming and to make compact.
    (The Daily Automotive News Nov. 15, 2001)
   
(2) Nissan Motor Co., Ltd. and Renault
    Nissan and Renault decided the details of cooperative development on FCV. The basic technology of FC stack will be developed jointly by engineers from both companies, and associated components, such as reformer for gasoline and methanol, fuel storage tank, air compressor, battery and capacitor, will be developed by each company independently. To pursuit the synergy effect, both companies intend to adopt common vehicle platform and power train, but on the other hand, to keep individual marketing flexibility they limited the scope of cooperative work to the development of stack, as the FCV technology is not yet established.
    (The Daily Automotive News Nov. 22, 2001)
   
(3) Nippon Chemi-Con Corporation
    Nippon Chemi-Con delivered newly developed large scale aluminum electrolysis condenser to Ecostar which is established jointly by Ballard Energy, Ford, Daimler Chrysler, etc. This is combined with inverter and large scale condenser developed to suit for 42 volt electric system of vehicle as a FCV energy device. It is used for instantaneous discharging large current and charging regenerated energy. It is quite different high value added product although one piece costs order of several thousands yen, comparing with cost of conventional product, some order of yen to ten yen.
    (The Chemical Daily Nov. 26, 2001)
 
6. Hydrogen Related Technology
(1) International Center for Material
    A venture enterprise International Center for Material (Kawasaki City) developed special type fullerene which has a nest structure. This fullerene constitutes double structure, large fullerene consist of 240 carbon atom contains small fullerene consist of 60 carbon atom being bonded like a ball. Carbon vaporized from carbon rod heated up to 3000 C by laser beam forms 20nm diameter fullerene of nest structure in the cooling process. The company states that the yield rate can be improved to 80 to 90% and production cost will be equivalent to conventional fullerene. It is reported that fullerene of nest structure has a hydrogen storage capacity from 6 to 8 wt%.
    (Nihon Keizai Shimbun, Nov. 9, 2001)
   
(2) Maruhachi Mawata Co., Ltd. and Fukui Textile
    To develop high pressure hydrogen gas tank for FCV, the textile industries of Maruhachi (Fukui City) and Fukui Textile (Fukui City) made a trial manufacture of a aluminum cylinder wound with carbon fiber and the weight is a half of conventional steel tank.
   
(3) Linde
    Linde in Germany, developing liquefied hydrogen storage tank, announced the prospect that the technology development for flat type liquefied hydrogen storage tank will be feasible within one year. When the flat type tank is realized, the tank can be loaded under the floor of vehicle and an effect on total cost reduction and others are expected. Linde loaded the mock-up flat type tank on small hydrogen vehicle which was introduced to public by BMW this year. Flat type is difficult to construct, to be used at extremely low temperature, and current liquefied hydrogen tank for hydrogen vehicle which are now under the road test are oval cylinder and loaded on behind aft seat. The flat type tank now developing is laminated with aluminum and other material and the material have higher heat insulation performance than existing one. The lighter weight than conventional is achieved with thinner tank wall structure. Linde intends to complete the development and starts test within one year and plans to load the tank on hydrogen vehicle which will be commercialized by BMW after 2005. They also plans to license the technology to other company. In case of current tank structure, liquid hydrogen does not lose for 5 days, but after that boil off with rate of 1% per day. This loss will be eliminated by utilizing the boil off hydrogen for auxiliary power FC (5kW).
    (Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun, Nov.13, 2001)
   
(4) NKK Corporation
    NKK announced that they will strengthen their cooperative relation with Dynetech (Canada), vessel manufacturer for high pressure gas, in fuel tank for NGV and FCV. Kokan Drum, subsidiary of NKK, will invest into Dynetech by buying 3% stock and jointly study the business development including vessel manufacturing in Japan. It is reported that Dynetech's FRP vessel is made of thin wall aluminum liner reinforced with carbon fiber, which is light weight with sufficient strength. Dynetech is operating factory in Calgary and constructing other factory in Germany.
    (Nihon Keizai Shimbun, Nov.20,2001, Nikkei Sangyo Shimbun, Nihon Kogyo Shimbun, Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun, Tekko Shimbun, The Daily Automotive News, The Chemical Daily Nov. 21,2001)
   
(5) Nippon Steel Corporation (NSC)
    NSC will enter an alliance with several companies including foreign company and starts new business to separate hydrogen from by-products in iron and steel production, which contains 20% of hydrogen, and to liquefy and supply hydrogen. If the hydrogen is produced by this process from all iron and steel works in Japan, sufficient fuel for 4 million FCV could be supplied. Though, to separate hydrogen is the key technology, the separation technology owned by NSC as conventional technologies such as oxygen production plant(PSA), cryogenics technology and membrane technology can be applied. NSC announced that they will develop hydrogen liquefaction and supply system for 3 years from 2002 by installing model plant. And NSC aims to establish and realize the technology for hydrogen production with low cost. The final target is to develop total system to supply liquefied hydrogen to FCV at service station.
    (Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun, Nov.26, 2001)
   
   
7. Development and Verification of Fuel Technology
    Venture business company, Nihon Shokuryo will begin to study and test on the house with private power generating system from next spring, based on the utilization of complex natural energy and fuel cell. The company intends to develop a new type of ecological house by around 2005, under the co-operation with a venture company which is engaged in the development of the fuel cell power system, applied the solar cell and original ethanol production system which produce ethanol efficiently from biomass, such as newspaper disposed from home. The process consist of the followings ; first, cellulose and hemi-cellulose are hydrolyzed using specified ferment and extract glucose with high efficiency of 65 ~ 70 %. Glucose is fermented with yeast and matured, then distilled and changed into ethanol. The ethanol is reformed and supplied to the fuel cell for electric power generation. The company will install this system by April 2002 in company's cafeteria and laboratory in the Factory Park MEGA and verify its performance. The company intends to develop this system not only for residence use but also for office buildings and workshops, too.
    ( Nihon Kogyo Shimbun: November 7, 2001 )
   
 
8. Development of Measurement Technology
(1) Measurement Device for Cell Performance
    Marubun Corporation, trading company dealing in semiconductors and industrial machinery, has developed total evaluation device for fuel cell under cooperation with NF Corporation, instrument manufacturer, and will put it on sale from December. The device is developed to study electrolyte membranes, catalysts and electrodes. The device has the functions measuring automatically changes of resistance in membrane and current-voltage characteristics concurrently with measurements of temperature, humidity and flow rate of hydrogen or hydrogen mixed gas. Measurement conditions can be set on the personnel computer. And the gas supply system and measurement devices are contained on a rack. Price will be over 8 million yen. The company will develop the evaluation device for fuel cell stack and also intends to add the function of the gas chromatography for gas analysis.
    ( Nikkei Sangyo Shimbun: November 30, 2001 )

i2) Sulfur Measuring System
    Rigaku Industrial Corporation ( Takatsuki City ) has developed the technology measuring precisely sulfur contents contained in petroleum products such as gasoline and kerosene. The new technology is simpler than conventional in its handling and it can measure several ten ppb of sulfur. New technology adopts the following process to measure sulfur contents; first, A sample is added with liquid catalyst then apply X ray in order to decompose organic sulfur compounds such as hydrogen sulfide and mercaptan. Obtained sulfur reacts with catalyst and settles down. Sulfur contents can be measured from fluorescence X ray released when the sediment of sulfur is exposed to X ray. Sulfur and catalyst combine so tight that they would not be dissolved under the measuring conditions. The performance of the device has been verified with isopropyl alcohol and naphtha. The same sample has been tested repeatedly 10 times changing containers and found that the deviation of the measured values was within 10% on the sample including sulfur of 50 ppb. This showed the device had high accuracy in sulfur measurement. As a conventional method applied on measurement of sulfur contents is to burn a sample and make sulfur oxide, then measure the contents of sulfur oxide. This method is very complicated and moreover measured results have fairly big deviations because the changing ratio from sulfur to sulfur dioxide and sulfur trioxide is not stable,. The company hopes that the device can be utilized in the developments of the high quality liquid fuels used for fuel cell.
    (Nikkei Sangyo Shimbun November 30, 2001)
   
 
9. Others
    Boeing America announced on November 27, 2001 that they will develop airplane loading fuel cell. Fuel cell will be applied for engines of propeller airplane and auxiliary power system on jet airplane in order to reduce the total quantity of injurious gas exhausted from the airplane. The engines on propeller airplanes will be replaced with electric motor and the motor will be driven by fuel cell system and the auxiliary power device at the aft-end on jet airplane will also be replaced with fuel cell system. Test flight with newly developed fuel cell system will start from the beginning of year 2004. The company wants to establish its mass production system and the way of cost reduction.
    ( Nihon Keizai Shimbun November 28, 2001, Nihon Kogyo Shimbun November 30, 2001)
 

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