THE LATEST FUEL CELL NEWS IN JAPAN, MAY 2002

Arranged by T. HOMMA
1. Governmental Policy and Activity
2. METI and NEDO Project
3. Activity of Local Government
4. Development and Market Entry of MCFC
5. Development and Market Entry of SOFC
6. Technology Development of PEFC
7. Demonstration Test for Domestic Use PEFC
8. The Front of FCV
9. Portable FC
10. Development of Fuel Related Technology
11. Company's Activity

1. Governmental Policy and Activity
(1)FC Project Team by Vice Minister
    FC project team consisted of vice minister class members of related ministries and agencies conducted hearing from industries on commercialization and diffusion of PEFC. There were many opinions such as security for platinum catalyst to be used large volume or development of alternative catalyst and creation for easily understandable name, from points of view of cost reduction, deregulation and promotion for broad recognition for fuel cell. And there was a opinion that electric utility company should buy surplus electricity generated by FC at higher price.
    Fuel Cell Commercialization Conference of Japan explained the current status of PEFC for mobile and stationary use. Platinum price is expensive of 2200 \/g level although a FCV uses platinum of 150 g. Therefore, they confirmed that security of platinum in international market or development of cheap alternative catalyst or reduction of platinum consumption are necessary.
    It is not the stage to decide a kind of fuel and the supply method for FCV but to collect related data although there are three ways to supply fuels such as gasoline reforming, natural gas reforming and direct hydrogen supply. And some subjects in regulation or code were pointed out, such that hydrogen supply station can not be installed with existing gasoline station and inspection for fuel tank mounted on car is not coincide with official checkout of car in timing and the inspection is not allowed as mounted state.
    For stationary fuel cell, distance to keep safety, authorized electrical technician in charge and installation of nitrogen cylinder for purge are necessary and regulated in code as stationary fuel cell is placed in a position of middle or large power station from view point of safety. And these codes and regulation should be reexamined so that we can introduce fuel cell into ordinary home.
    ( The Daily Automotive News April 1, 2002, Denki Shimbun April 4, 2002)
   
(2)Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport
    Mr. Shizuo Sato, vice minister of MLIT announced on April 20, 2002 that they designate Sapporo city and the surrounded area as model district to introduce fuel cell in May. Model facility will be open for public and test to introduce FCV will be carried out at the area in 2003. The model facility which will be open in May 2002 has PR corner to be able to observe principle for fuel cell power generation and also play role for public education explaining fuel cell cogeneration system to supply power to home and also hot water generated from exhaust heat. And MLIT will appoint radius 100 km area including the above area as model district for FCV demonstration and 10 hydrogen supply station in maximum will be installed in 2003. On the other hand, cooperation research between Sapporo city and Hokkaido Gas Co., Ltd. has been advanced, intending commercialization of fuel cell as target.
 
2. METI and NEDO Projects
(1)Hydrogen Supply Station for FCV
    Hydrogen supply station to be fabricated by Tsurumi Soda Co., Ltd. will be completed in July 2002, which makes use of by-product hydrogen from sodium production, in a link of WE-NET project promoted by NEDO. Tsurumi Soda will newly install hydrogen station at their factory in head office area in Tsurumi ward, Yokohama city, which by-product hydrogen generated from production process of sodium hydroxide is compressed and stored and then the hydrogen is supplied to FCV. Iwatani International Corporation is in charge of storing system which has a capacity to be able to charge hydrogen to five FCV continuously. And another 4 various type of hydrogen station will be installed by Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry(METI) through public offer and other one project is subsidy for Tokyo Metropolitan Government. These 4 stations include methanol reforming, gasoline reforming, electrolysis of water and liquefied hydrogen.
    And METI will raise new demonstration project to be installed fuel cell at home in the end of 2002 and budget of 2.5 billion yen in total is to be assigned.
    (Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun April 1, 2002)
   
(2)METI Special Budget Frame for Technology Development
    METI decided a policy to establish special frame for preliminary budget plan in 2003 in order to place priority for distribution of government budget, to promising technology to be able to commercialize soon by private industries. Mr. Takeo Hiranuma, Minister of METI will propose special frame at Council for Science and Technology Policy, Cabinet Office to be held on April 23. The purpose of this budget is to promote technology development which large market can be expected but some technical issue have to be solved for the commercialization under cooperative investment for the development by both government and private industries and the scale of the budget would be several 100 billion yen per year. High performance semi conductor, flat display of energy saving type, viable fuel cell as commercial product, material for energy saving car etc. are candidate technologies.
    (Asahi Shimbun April 20, 2002)
 
3. Activity of Local Government
    Contractors for projects raised by Tokyo Metropolitan Government were decided as follows. Electric Power Development Co., Ltd. and Toyota Tsusho Corporation group have been selected for wind power project to be installed at Tokyo bay area and Showa Shell Sekiyu K.K. and Iwatani International Corporation group have been selected for hydrogen supply station project for FCV. Hydrogen supply station will be installed by March 2003 and operated for 2 years in FCV demonstration test under cooperation between METI and automotive companies.
    (Nihon Keizai Shimbun March 30, 2002, Denki Shimbun April 1, 2002)
 
4. Development and Market Entry of MCFC
    IHI (Ishikawajima-Harima Heavy Industries Co., Ltd.) has been studying realization of CO2 recovery plant making use of characteristics of MCFC, which recover CO2 as liquid phase from exhaust gas of coal fired thermal power station, using MCFC combined with coal fired thermal power station which improves the power generation efficiency at the same time, as the measure to reduce CO2 from coal fired thermal power station. 15 % CO2 reduction can be expected by this technology in case of 1000 MW coal fired power station. Exhaust gas including CO2 from coal fired power station is supplied to cathode of MCFC and produce carbonate ion at the cathode through reaction with oxygen and electron. And then the carbonate ion goes to anode through electrolyte and react with hydrogen at anode and produce CO2 and H2O. CO2 in anode exhaust gas is highly concentrated and can be liquefied easily by pressurization. In case of large scale MCFC, operating pressure is higher than 10 atm and the condition is adequate for CO2 recovery through liquefaction.
    IHI has been fabricating MCFC demonstration unit of 300 kW and the unit will be operated from summer 2002 at Kawagoe Thermal Power Station of Chubu Electric Power Co., Inc. Efficiency of MCFC is about 45 % in several 100 kW class and above 50 % in 1000 kW class. IHI will advance the commercialization of MCFC making use of 300 kW module and the price will be 440 k\/kW at market entry stage in 2005.
    (Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun April 12, 2002)
 
5. Development and Market Entry of SOFC
(1)Electric Power Development Co., Ltd. and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Ltd.
    EPDC and Mitsubishi intend to commercialize SOFC of 1000 kW as the minimum unit and larger scale by the combination, now under cooperation development. Therefore, they will modify stack structure from cylindrical to rectangular and complete 100 kW unit by 2004 and start demonstration test.
    In case of cell developed by Mitsubishi, 10 % cost reduction is possible in comparison with cell produced by plasma spray method. Their cell is horizontal stripe on tube, made by wet slurry and sintering method and many tubular cells are bundled in one stack. However, scale up from 10 kW to 100 kW is very difficult if it is cylindrical stack structure and they will reexamine the structure to be able to use space efficiently for arrange of cells. New structure will be decided within 2002 and complete 100 kW stack by 2004. And they will complete 1000 kW class unit based on 10000 hr operation test in 2006. They intend to reduce cost down to 300 k\/kW as distributed power generation unit of several 1000 - 10000 kW class by using 1000 kW unit developed in 2006.
    (Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun March 28, 2002)
 
6. Technology Development of PEFC
    Takasaki Radiation Chemistry Research Establishment of Japan Atomic Energy Research Institute announced that they had developed high performance fluorocarbon polymers membrane for PEFC. New fluorocarbon polymers membrane has been developed by applying radiochemistry on styrene polymer chain with sulfonation and three times higher ion conductivity has been confirmed, than that of existing ones. As the basic structure of the membrane is mesh state, it is hard to swell and stable to alcohol. These properties are expected that the membrane is quite useful as a membrane of DMFC.
    (Nihon Keizai Shimbun, Nikkei Sangyo Shimbun, Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun, Jomo Shimbun, The Chemical Daily April 26, 2002)
7. Demonstration Tests for Domestic Use PEFC
(1) Osaka Gas Co., Ltd.
    Osaka Gas announced on April 4, 2002 that PEFC for domestic use will experimentally be operated for one year in order to evaluate its optimum operation method and also durability and reliability, installed at real home. A 500W class PEFC (with hot water supply system) which developed under cooperation with H-Power will be put in service from April 5 at experimental condominium"NEXT21" in Osaka, further more a 1kW class PEFC (with heating system) which developed under cooperation with Sanyo Electric will also be put in service from the end of this month at a residence in Kyoto.
    (Asahi Shimbun, Mainichi Shimbun, Yomiuri Shimbun, Nihon Keizai Shimbun, Sankei Shimbun, Tokyo Shimbun, Nihon Kogyo Shimbun, Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun, April 5, 2002, Denki Shimbun April 8, 2002)
   
(2) Toyota
    Toyota Motor Corp. under cooperation with Aisin Seiki Co., Ltd. and other companies has developed domestic use fuel cell and plan to put them in market hopefully by year 2005. Toyota will put FCV on sale in year 2003 but high price of a FCV may prevent them from popularization, therefore they intend to produce the domestic use FC in advance and try to aim at double effects on the production cost. They are now under testing and evaluation on the FC system. After improving their reliability and durability, they will put them in sale through Toyota Home shops. They have also investigated on the hybrid systems with solar cells and on the extension to adopt recyclable building materials.
    ( Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun April 16, 2002)
   
(3) The Japan Gas Association
    The second stage of the demonstration operations on the PEFC for domestic use co-generation system has started with 13 units from 9 manufacturers, which have been promoted by The Japan Gas Association. Operated FCs are 6kw of UTCFC and 4.5kw of Plug Power from USA and 0.7 to 1.3kw type FC fueled with natural gas reforming except of 200w portable type FC by Matsushita Electric Works, fueled with butane reforming from Japanese companies.
    (Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun April 26, 2002)
 
8. The Front of FCV
(1) Toyota
    Toyota Motor Corp. will tackle on the cost reduction of PEFC, the most important subject on PEFC, in order to strengthen the competitive ability in the field of FCV. There are three major targets listed. One is the reduction of platinum consumption to the level of one fiftieth of that of existing ones because of the most cost effective factor. The other is prompt development of the new high performance catalysts which can be replaced with platinum. The last one is to establish the management and control technology on the power generating systems.
    (The Daily Automotive News April 1, 2002)
    Toyota Motor Corp. has developed the FCV hybrid prototype car with the fuel of 350atm hydrogen gas and has begun driving test. The driving range for a fill is expected over 350km. The company intends to put on this type of FCV on sale in year 2003. Toyota recognize that there are no space for other fuels than compressed hydrogen gas for FCV and intends to develop the higher pressure hydrogen tank to the level of 500atm, finally 700atm so as to increase the driving range.
    ( Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun April 18, 2002)
   
(2) Honda Motor Co., Ltd.
    Honda made their FCX-V4 test run open to public on April 4, 2002 and gave reporters trial rides. FCX-V4 is furnished Ballard PEFC stack under the floor and big capacitor to recover braking energy and is capable of max. speed of 140km/h and driving range of 315km with 137 liter tank of 350atm compressed hydrogen. Mr. Yozo Kami, senior researcher and in charge of the development, in Honda said that Honda has tested the cars on the public roads more than 10,000 km in USA and Japan and confirmed that the car has equal driving performance and also safety and reliability compared to the existing cars.
    (Asahi Shimbun, Nihon Keizai Shimbun, Mainichi Shimbun, Sankei Shimbun, Nikkei Sangyo Shimbun, Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun, Tokyo Shimbun, Chunichi Shimbun April 5, 2002, Nihon Kogyo Shimbun April 8, 2002)
    Honda has likely fixed the production plan of the first model of FCV. The company will begin to manufacture the cars in Takanezawa Factory of Tochigi Works from year 2003 and will manufacture 50 of them in 3 years . Among these, more than 30 cars will be exported to California in USA and more than 10 cars will be supplied for domestic fleet and Honda themselves will use others for demonstration purpose. First commercial model of FCV will be based on the prototype of FCX-V4 and will be done minor changes just on the appearance. The limited production quantity of fifties is due to its high cost and there are no prospects for cost reduction. The company aims to gather the driving data through actual users and pile up the know-how and then develop the new model for mass production.
    (The Daily Automotive News April 9, 2002)
    Honda has verified the driving range of 315 km under the mode 10.15 by FCV"FCX-V4" but the driving range of real drive in city and on highway shows just 220 - 250 km. This range is about a half of that of petrol cars. Therefore FCV-V5, the latest model to the market oriented cars manufactured in the near future, will be furnished the bigger capacity of high pressure hydrogen tank and will have longer driving range. No other high efficiency hydrogen storage system has been developed yet, then Honda will improve the high pressure hydrogen storage system to get the same driving range as petrol cars.
    (The Daily Automotive News April 16, 2002)
    Honda has decided the plan that the maintenance fee of FCV putting on sale from year 2003 will practically be free due to the car price including maintenance and repair fee. First model for market is limited to fifties level and it makes the price settings of spare parts difficult. Furthermore it is hard for the company to anticipate the labor cost for car maintenance because of FCV applying new power system. Accordingly the company has decided to set the car price including maintenance fee and control the users' expense. The company expects to get know-how about the future FCV sales through these services.
    (The Daily Automotive News April 26, 2002)
9. Portable FC
(1) NEC Corporation
    In order to promote research and development for carbon nano-tube to be realized, NEC established application research center of CNT(Yoshimi Kubo, General Manager of the Center) at NEC Fundamental Research Laboratory in Tsukuba City and increased their research stuff to double. For the present, the research activity is focused on the FC for portable equipment and they will develop FC applicable for note type personal computer and portable phone within 1 year. And they will start development for mass production technology from 2003 and then put them on market in 2005. Not only to FC, nano-tube is expected to be applied to next generation display and high performance material.
    (Nihon Keizai Shimbun, Nikkei Sangyo Shimbun April 8, 2002, Denpa Shimbun April 16, 2002)
10. Development of Fuel Related Technology
(1) Honda Motor Co., Ltd.
    On April 11, 2002, Honda announced that they developed next generation thin film solar cell which is made of Copper-Indium-Gallium-Selenium (CIGS). 20% higher electric generation efficiency and 1/5 power consumption in production are reported, comparing to existing solar cell. Honda Engineering Co., Ltd, Honda hold 100% stock, will be in charge of production. Honda has been already operating hydrogen supply station utilizing solar cell at Torrance City, California for trial purpose and has a plan to adopt their developed solar cell to hydrogen stand for FCV.
    (Nikkei Sangyo Shimbun April 12, 2002)
   
(2) Ishikawajima-Harima Heavy Industries Co., Ltd.
    IHI and NISSHO IWAI CORPORATION reached to basic agreement of long term supply contract of GTL reactor with Sasol Technology Limited belonging to Sasol group which is the leading energy and petrochemical group in Republic of Soutrh Africa. Sasol is the pioneer to have succeeded the commercialization of "Slurry Phase / Low Temperature F-T synthesis technology among many competitor such as global oil major and venture capital corporation. The advantage of this technology such as easy for heat removal comparing fixed bed, good in reaction control and easy for catalyst exchange, are appraised.
    Adopting the technology developed by Sasol group, IHI and NISSHO IWAI will supply reactors for GTL which is expected to prevail world-wide, exclusively for 10 years. GTL is clean fuel synthesized from natural gas by F-T process and does not contain environmental pollutant such as sulfur, nitrogen and aromatic and its market is expected to expand in Japan, Europe and America at where regulations for vehicle emission will be more stringent after 2005. And also, its demand as a fuel and raw material for hydrogen and FCV fuel is expected. Assessing these circumstances and future market trends, constructions of full scale commercial plants are scheduled world-wide. IHI/NISSHO IWAI plan to receive contracts for 14 ~ 20 super big reactors, amount to 25 billion yen in total during 10 years, in the projects including Nigeria plant to be developed by Sasol and Chevron, USA and Qatar plant to be developed by Qatar Petroleum (total 2 billion dollar)
    (The Chemical Daily April 18, 2002)
   
(3) Electric Power Development Co., Ltd (EPDC)
    EPDC decided to proceed with technology development for yielding chemical and clean energy product such as GTL and DME from coal gas, incorporating them to coal gasification plant to develop production technology for fuel of FC (EAGLE project), which full scale demonstration operation is scheduled to start from fiscal year 2003. EAGLE is a joint project by EPDC and Hitachi, Ltd., constructing a coal fired gas turbine power generation pilot plant at EPDC Wakamatsu General Management Office, which is scheduled full scale operation from 2003. And completing 100 kW SOFC demonstration unit by 2004, the test results obtained by the demonstration operation will be used for coal gasification FC combined power generation system scheduled after 2007. In parallel with this, by developing and realizing the technology for yielding chemical and clean energy resource they plan to improve plant utilization efficiency and realize cost reduction.
    (Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun April 24, 2002)
11. TCompany's Activity
(1) EBARA CORPORATION
    EBARA established a "New Energy Division" which manages businesses such as FC, wind power, solar power and nuclear power. Growth in wind power business is high (7 billion yen in fiscal year 2001), and also FC business is accelerated, planning to introduce stationary FC unit into market from 2004.
    (Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun April 10, 2002)
   
(2) Ishikawajima-Harima Heavy Industries Co., Ltd. (IHI)
    IHI will manufacture 10 units of 5 kW class stationary PEFC of natural gas reforming during 2002, by transferring PEFC system technology from MOSAIC Energy, capital alliance company in USA. IHI planned to start business of PEFC with stacks supplied by MOSAIC at first through investment to MOSAIC, GTI group in USA in 2000. But in order to accelerate development, IHI intends to switch the policy to technology transfer and fabricate whole stationary PEFC independently. IHI, utilizing the technology supplied by MOSAIC, already installed the first unit in Japan which has been operating with naphtha reforming. For diversifying fuel to kerosene and natural gas, IHI plans to proceed with reforming technology development jointly with some oil company or others.
    Utilizing a "hydrogen permeable membrane technology" which is one of fruits from reforming technology development for MCFC, IHI plans business development in hydrogen supply station field. IHI developed plate type hydrogen permeable membrane and applied it to natural gas reformer of MCFC. IHI has a plan to develop hydrogen supply station combining plate type hydrogen permeable membrane and plate type reformer.
    (Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun April 22, 2002)

-This edition is made up as of May, 2002.-