(1) Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry
METI held a rally for trial driving of FCV in a national diet on December 12, 2001 and Mr. Koizumi, Prime Minister, Mr. Hiranuma, Minister of METI, Mrs. Kawaguchi, Minister of the Environment, Mr. Hatoyama, the Leader of the Democratic Party in Japan and other members of the diet participated in the rally. Prime minister announced a positive policy to promote market entry for FCV in his speech which government has been studying subsidy to extend market. Mr. Cho, president of Toyota Motor Corporation, Mr. Carlos Ghosn, President and CEO of Nissan Motor Co., Ltd., Mr. Munekuni, Chairman of Honda Motor Co., Ltd. and Mr. Watanabe, Chairman of Mazda Motor Corporation participated from automotive industry.
(The Daily Automotive News, Yomiuri Shimbun, Mainichi Shimbun, Nihonkeizai Shimbun, Sankei Shimbun, Nihon Kogyo Shimbun, Tokyo Shimbun December 14, 2001)
(2) Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transportation
MLIT will start a research under cooperation with Hokkaido University to develop a new town which make use of power and heat generated by fuel cell. The ministry plans to establish a committee in the ministry at the beginning of Japanese fiscal year 2002, which is consisted of members from men of learning and experience, local governments and related people in Hokkaido and also private industries and verify technologies on storage and transportation for hydrogen within a year. Hokkaido is a suitable place to install fuel cell because Hokkaido has methane gas field around Tomakomai and stockbreeding is very popular which can produce hydrogen for fuel cell by reforming methane generated from excrements of the live-stock. The ministry intends to introduce an instruction manual on installation of fuel cell specified in deep snow and cold area in order to satisfy heat requirements as local characteristics especially in winter season, looking at the progress of technology development in private industries. Verification test in urban area will be carried out in this project, using 60,000,000 yen of governmental budget although Hokkaido University already started the research on storage and transportation of hydrogen. They said that they want to indicate direction of fuel cell integrated new town, evaluating the progress in development of hardware.
( Denki Shimbun December 26, 2001)
2. Policy in Local Government
Aichi prefectural government established a policy to develop fuel cell power generation using hydrogen from gasification of waste and regeneration technology to highly treat dirty water into potable water level, under cooperation research with Nagoya University and Toyota Motor Corporation and exhibit the fruits at pavilion in Aichi International Exhibition held in 2005. These two technologies would be integrated with total operation system of the Exhibition if realized in time. Fuel cell power generation with waste gasification make use of hydrogen and carbon monoxide produced from plastics or waste heated up to 1000 in less oxygen atmosphere. Water treatment process packs microorganism into treatment tank at high density and it can remove nitrogen or phosphorus by using filtration membrane made of ceramics as fast as 2 times than conventional technology. The water treatment system can produce methane at the same time if food waste treated by disposer is flown into the dirty water and treat them at the same time. Both technologies are reaching practical level the person concerned said because the demonstration tests have succeeded, which have been carried out at Allied Research Center for Advanced Technology operated by cooperation of members from private industry, government and scholarship.
(Chunichi Shimbun December 12, 2001)
3. Market and Diffusion of PAFC
Toshiba International Fuel Cells (TIFC) intends to increase sales target up to 10 units in JFY 2002 which are 5 times of sales experience in JFY 2001. TIFC targets sales amounts of 1 billion yen by digging up sales objectives for local government under stronger cooperation with Toshiba. Main product is 200 kW PAFC and the feature is what it can be exchanged the function into UPS (Uninteruptive Power Supply) at once when power supply from grid is stopped by disaster or other reason. PAFC has been sold for UPS for distributed power or advanced buildings or factories with IT(Information Technology) function. However, units sold in 2001 would be only 2 because the price is expensive of 100 million yen and also IT industry is in a depression. One more reason is severe competition with micro gas turbine. On the other hand, fuel cell operated by methane gas produced from swage or domestic food waste treatment is getting popular recently. Therefore, the company will have contacts with local government who want to adopt digester facility for swage treatment and also they want to cooperate with Utility- Infrastructure Division of Toshiba and promote sales by using proposal sales to customers. And they want to sell fuel cell to also hospital or other customers, making use of the UPS function as sales point.
(Nihon Kogyo Shimbun December 20, 2001)
4. Market Entry of MCFC
Kirin Brewery Co., Ltd. announced on December 26, 2001 that they intend to install the first MCFC in October 2002, fabricated by Fuel Cell Energy, Inc. via Marubeni Corporation. Marubeni will install the MCFC imported from FCE in Toride Factory of Kirin and supply power to Kirin, generated by the MCFC for 15 years and Marubeni is also in charge of operation and maintenance. The fuel is methane gas produced in a process to treat effluent water. Although Toride factory has bought electricity of 37,220,000 kWh/Y from The Tokyo Electric Power Co. And 5% of the power will be replaced by the in house power generation using MCFC. The cost of electricity is almost the same for the time being in comparison with bought from The Tokyo Electric, however, Kirin intends to install these fuel cell in all factories over the country and they expect lower electric cost at the stage when power supply from fuel cell will be increased. 3 units of the same MCFC plants have been operated at the current stage in the US and Germany and this unit for Kirin is the first in Japan.
(Yomiuri Shimbun, Nihonkeizai Shimbun, December 27, 2001, Denki Shimbun, Sankei Shimbun, Denpa Shimbun, Nikkan Kensetsu Kogyo Shimbun December 28, 2001)
5. Research, Development and Demonstration of SOFC
(1) National Institute for Materials Science
NIMS, Independent Administrative Institution (Tsukuba City) concluded agreement with Alfred University in USA and The University of Queensland in Australia on December 10, 2001, to cooperate research on nano-technology and material field. The subjects three parties tackle are to develop "nano-structure control-super ion conductivity material-element" and the purpose is to make hetero structure of nano-scale in electrolyte of SOFC, which has excellent ion conductivity. The duration of the research is 5 years for the time being, however, it can be extended depending on the fruits.
(The Chemical Daily December 10, 2001, Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun December 11, 2001)
(2) The Kansai Electric Power Co., Inc., Mitsubishi Material Corporation, JFCC and Oita University
Kansai Electric announced on December 17, 2001 that they attained the highest current density in the world, by low temperature SOFC operated at 600-800 , under cooperation with Mitsubishi Material and Japan Fine Ceramics Center (JFCC). The current density was 1.8 W/cm2 at 800 and 0.9 W/cm2 at 700 although conventional records were 1.22 W/cm2 and 0.72 W/cm2 each. This cell is applied porous complex material consisted of fine nickel and ceria added samarium for anode and condensed material of perovskite type oxide material consisted of 5 elements based on lanthanum compound for electrolyte and porous material of samarium- cobaltite added strontium for cathode. The cell size is reported that 1.6 cm in diameter, 0.02 mm in thickness of electrode and 0.1 mm in thickness of electrolyte. Mitsubishi Material and Oita University developed the electrolyte and the cathode and Kansai Electric and JFCC developed the anode. Kansai Electric and Mitsubishi Material intend to improve cell under cooperation with JFCC and Oita University and to fabricate several kW class power generation unit within 2-3 years and to realize SOFC power generation unit of the most efficient and the lowest cost in the near future because low operation temperature is effective to reduce cost and to extend life. The fruits of this research will be presented at the 5th SOFC Forum held on July 1-5, 2002 in Switzerland.
(Yomiuri Shimbun, Sankei Shimbun, Nihonkeizai Shimbun, Denki Shimbun, Nikkeisangyo Shimbun, Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun, Nihon Kogyo Shimbun, Chunichi Shimbun, Tekko Shimbun, Denpa Shimbun, The Chemical Daily December 18,2001)
NKK announced on December 19, 2001 that they concluded agreement with Fuel Cell Technologies (FCT) in Canada in order to commercialize SOFC system in smaller range than 50 kW. NKK will put 2 types of 5 and 50 kW units (power generation efficiency is 45% or higher) into market in 2003 under agreement with FCT for assemble and manufacture and the price will be 600,000 yen/kW. NKK can line up SOFC products from several kW to several thousands kW which the latter is made by Siemens Westinghouse Power Corporation under distribution right already concluded.
FCT have a plan to assemble 5 and 50 kW system for commercialization, procuring the cell from SWPC and they started to construct production factory in Canada. The feature of the SOFC is honeycomb type cell and the electric resistance is lower than tubular type which results in down sizing and cost reduction. Although FCT have a plan to complete demonstration unit in 2002 in order to put these small scale unit into market in 2003, NKK intends to improve specification of the 2 types made by FCT into package type fit to Japanese market and to put these units into market in the same 2003 in Asia-Pacific region. The units will be operated by natural gas and recovered heat can be used for wide application because exhaust gas temperature is high of 700 .
On the other hand, NKK will introduce 250 kW SOFC of SWPC in 2003 and 550 kW unit at the end of 2004 into market. SWPC will start to operate mass production factory in 2003 which capacity is 15,000 kW/Y of SOFC. NKK intends to sell these two types at price of 1,500,000 yen/kW level and to improve efficiency of 550 kW up to 60% to realize an efficient hybrid system with gas turbine. NKK expects to commercialize SOFC in extensive market such as building or office as distributed power in urban area.
(Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun Decenber 20, 2001, Nihonkeizai Shimbun, Nikkei Sangyo Shimbun, Tekko Shimbun, The Chemical Daily December 21, 2001)
6. Development and Demonstration for PEFC
(1) Kyushu Electric Power Co., Inc.
KEPCO announced on December 6, 2001 that they started PEFC demonstration test at their Research Institute. The fuel is town gas and the unit is co-generation system of 0.7kW home use PEFC delivered by Toshiba. The demonstration test will be carried out by the end of 2003 and KEPCO will evaluate the basic performance and assess the current development level of PEFC technology. Fuel treatment for town gas is steam reforming system and the unit provided with 370 litre hot water tank can supply hot water at 60 . Electricity generating efficiency is a little less than 30% and total efficiency is 70%.
(Denki Shimbun, Nikkei Sangyo Shimbun, The Chemical Daily December 7, 01)
(2) Mitsubishi Electric Corporation
In order to reduce the cost of PEFC separator, MELCO will accelerate the development for "carbon resin molded separator" consisted of graphite and resin. As for manufacturing of separator, there are generally three methods. The first is precise machining for pressed lump of graphite one by one, using NC (Numerical Control) machine. The second is molding separator which material is mixture of graphite and resin. The third is metal separator chemically treated the surface. To aim at the method suitable for mass-production, MELCO will proceed with development of mold type adopting thermo plastic resin which becomes elastic with heat and the method capable of injection molding to be applied for manufacturing of plastic parts and needs not fine NC machining. With this methodology, cost of separator plate (100 cm2) for one piece will be reduced from 5,000 yen to the target cost less than 200 yen.
(Denki Shimbun, December 17, 2001)
(3) Hitachi, Ltd.
Hitachi, in a link of PEFC development, decided to develop auto-thermal technology applicable to home use PEFC, to improve reforming process. In case of existing home use PEFC, steam reforming is majority. But steam reforming system has weak points to require long time for start up / shut down and complex CO removable process. Aiming at auto-thermal reforming which yield hydrogen and CO2 by co-processing steam reforming and partial oxidation of butane by injecting oxygen, Hitachi decided to develop this process. But with this process, two reactions take place in one reactor and too complex reformer construction is concerned. In case of home use FC, major fuel is town gas which require high temperature for reforming, and also durability shall be realized. More over, to feed high purity oxygen for oxidizing reforming is required and equipment for removing nitrogen becomes essential. Hitachi is going to develop these technologies actively as well as component development and proceed with development aiming at demonstration level test. Hitachi plans to demonstrate 1kW class home use PEFC in 2004.
(Denki Shimbun, December 21, 2001)
(4) Nishinomiya City
The fire department of Nishinomiya city announced that they will trial introduce and test PEFC as a potable emergency power unit from April, 2002. Appreciating features that are quiet and clean, they will utilize the unit for lighting and rescue activity as well as for emergency medical activity such as power for artificial respiration. After the Hanshin-Awaji Great Earthquake disaster, this project had been proposed by private research team "Yume Souzou no Kai" (team to create dream) organized by 200 members from officers of Kinki Bureau of Economy, Trade and Industry and employee of related 80 companies and they materialized it through communication with the fire department. Volunteer of the team bear the unit manufacturing cost and Sanyo Electric Co., Ltd will supply 3 sets of 100W class PEFC. Prototype unit already manufactured is 30 cm height, 30 cm length, 16 cm width and 5 kg weight. The team states "As the unit can be utilized at subterranean street, we will propose PEFC to other organization, based on the experience at Nishinomiya"
(Kobe Shimbun, December 26, 2001)
(5) Nisshimbo Industries Inc.
Nisshimbo succeeded in development of thin and high strength carbon molded separator for PEFC and started sample delivery to some users. As the strength is twice in comparison with conventional carbon molded product and the elastic is, 0.25mm thickness equivalent to metal separator can be realized. Molding characteristic is equivalent to conventional carbon molding and molding of gas flow pass on both surfaces is also easy. The development of efficient molding process had been promised and it will be further improved for the cost reduction and the mass-production from now. Considering increase of demand, the production facility now in R&D center (Chiba city) will be moved to Miai factory (Aichi prefecture) and start of production by May, 2002 is scheduled.
(Nippon Seni Shimbun, The Daily Automotive News, The Chemical Daily December 26, 2001, Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun December 27, 2001)
7. Micro FC and DMFC
(1) National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST)
Research Institute for Green Technology of AIST announced that they developed a ultra micro tube type FC which yield proton directly from methanol and it requires no reforming process. Fluorine resin hollow string on the market is used in this FC for an electrolyte membrane and the string outside diameter is 0.6 mm and inside diameter is 0.3 mm. And ultra fine carbon fibers loaded fine platinum particle are stuck inside the tube. Feeding methanol diluted by water to hollow string, proton and electron are generated with catalysis of platinum and the proton passes through the membrane of hollow string and react with oxygen in air. Output of 14.3 micro W per 1 cm2 was obtained at ambient temperature in laboratory. And it is expected that sufficient output to work mobile phone can be generated by bundling many strings. Research Institute sates that carbon fiber structure which allow hydrogen to pass through easily and new catalyst which can substitute platinum are promised and power up to 10 ~ 12mW per 1 cm2 is prospected. The patent application to Japan, USA, Europe and Canada had been made. Through TLO (Technology Licensing Organization) of AIST, companies who have a will to cooperate the development is to be raised. The research themes to be addressed from now will be the issues for actual application, such as newly development of electrolyte membrane which can improve generating efficiency and trial fabrication of hollow string bundle.
(Nikkei Sangyo Shimbun December 11, 2001)
(2) YUASA Co., Ltd
YUASA announced on December 13, 2001,that they developed small size DMFC power system. Two types of 100W and 300W fueled 3 % methanol solution are expected to be put in market in 2003. The unit size for 100W output is a degree of small trunk and the weight is 25 kg and it can operate for 24 hours with 1 litre methanol solution (45 yen). The unit size for 300W output is 500 mm length, 500 mm width and 600 mm height, and the weight is 60 kg. Price is expected to be less than 100,000 yen and the electric apparatus such as personal computer and micro wave oven can be operated. YUASA expects the demands for outdoor mobile power, power supply for non-electrification area, domestic emergency power for disaster, etc.
(Mainichi Shimbun, Nihonkeizai Shimbun, Sankei Shimbun, Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun, December 13, 2001, Nippon Kogyo Shimbun, December 14, 2001, Nikkei Sangyo Shimbun, December 20, 2001)
8. Front of FCV
(1) Honda Motor Co., Ltd
For the development of FCV, Honda decided to concentrate to "pure hydrogen system" which fuel hydrogen directly. This decision seemed to be coming from a understanding that the pure hydrogen FCV which is friendly to environment and has an excellent energy efficiency is to be prevail in future and reforming gasoline or others is a transit technology. Honda will develop also hydrogen supply system, and solve various practical issues for realizing pure hydrogen system. Honda stated that the reforming technology cultivated already will be adopted for realization of low cost infrastructure. And Honda will aim at to realize second generation hydrogen supply system including clean type hydrogen production system demonstrated at California which utilize solar energy .
(The Daily Automotive News December 4, 2001)
(2) Toyota Motor Corporation
Toyota announced that they decided a plan to establish "FC Development Center" for FCV development as from January 1, 2002. The organization of the Center will cover both technical area and production technology area and will be a scale of 450 members. Toyota stated that the purpose is to reinforce the development and production organization aiming at FCV commercialization planned in 2003 and Mr. Hiroyuki Watanabe senior managing director will be assigned as a chief of the Center. And Toyota will recruit additional members from the group company such as Denso Corporation and Aisin Seiki Co., Ltd. Also Mr. Fujio Chou, President declared that Toyota plans to put FCV in market at price less than ten million yen in middle of 2003.
(Tokyo Shimbun, December 9, 2001, Nikkei Sangyo Shimbun, Chunichi Shimbun, Nikkann Kogyo Shimbun, The Daily Automotive News December 27, 2001)
9. Hydrogen and Fuel Related Technologies
(1) Hyogo Prefecture
Hyogo Prefectural Institute of Industrial Research Center and Okuto, venture company in Nishinomiya-city, has developed a small facility of hydrogen generator applying magnesium contained in sea water. The developed facility produces hydrogen with a process which magnesium is dipped in special acid solution. Magnesium is formed in briquette shape and adjusted its surface dipped in the solution at constant and then stable supply of required hydrogen is established. The quantity of hydrogen produced can be controlled by changing the dipped surface. This facility is considered to be applied on the Fuel Cell and makes the Fuel Cell system smaller and therefore, the Fuel Cell could be used as commercial power source for automobiles. In case the hydrogen generator could be fabricated in exchangeable cartridge type, long term hydrogen supply will become possible. The generation system of the utilization of components in sea water and air attracts dometic electric appliance companies and investment companies in America.
(2) National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST)
AIST has developed powdered catalyst which produces hydrogen from water by exposing it in sun light. The catalyst is one of photo catalysts which prompt chemical reaction using photo energy. This catalyst is the chemical compound of Indium compound. The catalyst resolves water into hydrogen and oxygen with visible light of wave length 402 nm in the sunlight. The catalyst is just under test stage and production rate of hydrogen is only 2~3 ml/hr at 0.5g of catalyst. AIST intends to bring it up to the industrial use with improvement of its performance by the modification of the structure applying nanotechnology and increase of the efficiency by 100 times.
(Nihonkeizai Shimbun December,2001)
(3) Japan Research and Development Center for Metals (JRCM)
JRCM announced on December 6, 2001 that JRCM will begin to develop on the hydrogen production technology from hot coke oven gas (COG) which is generated from coke furnace in ironworks under the cooperation with Nippon Steel Corporation, NKK Corporation and Teikoku Oil Co., Ltd. The plan aims to develop hydrogen production technology utilizing the chemical components and the heat which exists as high temperature COG. The duration is 5 years from 2001 JFY with subsidy from Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry.
(Nihon Kogyo Shiombun,Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun December 7,2001)
10. Related Technology
(1) Mitsubishi Chemical Corporation (MCC) and Mitsubishi Corporation
MCC and Mitsubishi Corporation announced that their newly financed company, "Frontier Carbon" has been established on December 3, 2001 in order to mass-produce fullurene which has been made its application research in various fields such as medicine for cancer and fuel cell. The capital is one hundred million yen and Mr. Shigeki Tomonou, department manager of Strategic Planning for Science and Technology in MCC, will be designated as the president. They will start the trial production of fullurene at 400 kg/year in Kurosaki Works of MCC in Kitakyushu-City and increase its production rate to 40 ton/year by spring of year 2003. The company said the production will increase 1500 ton/year by year 2007 and the sales amount will be expected 23 billion yen/year.
(Nikkei Sangyo Shimbun December 4, 2001)
(2) Matsushita Seiko Co., ltd.
Matsushita Seiko Co., Ltd announced that the company has developed the scroll type (vortex type) air blower (a large fan) operated with the power of 50% of conventional ones. The blower is volume type scroll blower which can be boost up at low speed revolution. The parts of scroll is non-touch structure. It is said that the power consumption is 30W and efficiency of blower is 26% and noise level is reduced about 24% (17 db) and life time is 40,000 hr which is equal to 8 times of that of conventional ones. 1kW class cogeneration system for domestic use PEFC is scheduled to put on the market in year 2004 and is to furnish this type of blower as a part of subsystem of oxygen supply. The company will apply this type of blowers not only for PEFC but also for home cleaner, hand dryer, high pressure air blower and other fields.
(Mainichi Shimbun, Denpa Shimbun, Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun, The Chemical Daily @Dec. 5, 2001, Nikkei Sangyo Shimbun, Nihon Kogyo Shibun December 6, 2001 Denki Shimbun December 7, 2001)
(3) Showa Denko K.K.
Showa Denko has developed carbon nano-fiber "VGNF", having 80 nm in fiber diameter. The company has recently established its mass production system of 10 ton/year and intends to propose applications for the market of FC, high performance secondary cell, capacitor and so on. The company has engaged in development of materials of fine carbon fiber from 1980s and begun to mass-produce VGCF of 150 nm in fiber diameter from 1990s. After that, the company focused on the development of new fiber in nano-zone and succeeded in recent development of VGNF. VGNF exists between VGCF as bulk material and carbon nano-tube (20 nm in fiber diameter) as quantum material and has excellent electron conductivity, thermal conductivity and strength compared with VGCF, therefore the company expects that VGNF will find big demand in the various kinds markets including FC.
(Denpa Shimbun Dec. 14, 2001)
(4) Mitsui & Co., Ltd.
Mitsui & Co., Ltd. announced on December 26, 2001 that the company will construct the mass-production plant for carbon nano-tube which will have the biggest capacity in the world. The company has planned to construct the new plant of the capacity 120 ton/year in the site of Showa Aircraft Industry Co., Ltd. in Akishima-city by April 2002 and start the operation from September, through the development company "CNRI (Carbon Nano-technology Research Institute)", research and development company 100 % financed by Mitsui & Co., Ltd. The main products is multi-wall fibers of 20 nm in diameter. The company also intends to handle special products according to demand.
(Yomiuri Shimbun, Nikkei Sangyo Shimbun, The Chemical Daily Dec. 27, 2001)
11. The Enterprise Activity
IFC established by the finance from 90 % UTC in USA and 10% Toshiba, was changed its name to UTC Fuel Cells (UTCFC) as of December 1, 2001. The company took its parent company name in as the brand strategy. The company seems to be an intension to clearly appeal stance of UTC who put stress on FC development. In addition, Toshiba International fuel Cells (TIFC) has been established in March 2001 under the finance of 51 % from Toshiba and 49 % from IFC.
(Denki Shimbun Dec. 10, 2001)
(2) Ebara Corporation
Ebara Corporation announced on December 10, 2001 that the company will invest to Ballard Power System (BPS) in order to strengthen business on stationary type PEFC. Total investment of Ebara Corporation to BPS becomes a little over than 1 % . The company has invested 10 % to Ballard Generation Systems (BGS), affiliated company of BPS, but changed the investment to BPS, parent company. Because they want to join also the development of PEFC stack in order to put the domestic use FC on the market by 2004 in this country. Ebara Corporation also seeks the possibility to put the stationary FC on the market which output range is from 1kW to 250kW. The company sets the price target of FC is 300,000 yen/kW. The company intends to sell FC over 80 billion yen or get the share of 30 to 40 % in domestic market. Daimler Chrysler and Ford, already invested on BPS, have increased their total share from 31 % to 43 %.
(Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun Dec. 11, 2001)
(3) Kyocera Corporation
Kyocera Corporation has decided to go into FC business. The company has already developed on the domestic use FC and scheduled to put it on the market as domestic power system within two years. The company has steadily expanded the business on solar power system and intends to use the same sales network on the FC business.
(Kyoto Shimbun Dec. 13, 2001)
(4) Asahi Kasei Corporation
Asahi Kasei Corporation is to reorganize the development structure on membrane based on Fluorine for PEFC which had been carried out in R & D Division so far and will expand and strengthen its development structure as direct company project. The company started to operate the demonstration facility to establish its mass-production technique. The company aims to supply high functioning products to the market, in FC membrane based on the combination of polymer science and mould and processing techniques which are core technique of the company. (The Chemical Daily Dec. 20, 2001j