THE LATEST FUEL CELL NEWS IN JAPAN, JULY 2002

Arranged by T. HOMMA
1. Governmental Policy and Activity
2. Activity of Public Organization
3. Development and Market Entry of MCFC
4. Development of PEFC and the Application
5. Development of Home Use Cogeneration System with PEFC
6. The Front of FCV
7. Development of Micro Fuel Cell
8. Hydrogen Related Technology
9. Instrumentation for Fuel Cell
10. Company Activity

1. Governmental Policy and Activity
(1)METI ( Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry )
    METI has a plan to make action program within 2002 in order to generate new market and actualize potential market in environment and energy field. They will make strategies in technology development and the commercialization for 3 - 5 years, strengthening coordination and cooperation between environmental and energy policies according to the governmental policy that both environment and economy must be consisted to attain target in Kyoto Protocol. Main poles of the policies are expansion of grant system for environmentally friendly company, arrangement of base and infrastructure for diffusion of distributed generation and ESCO ( Total services for energy saving ) taken the lead by public organization. And promotion to commercialize fuel cell and expansion of top runner market including consumer level will be also adopted as comprehensive program.
    ( Denki Shimbun May 27, 2002 )
    METI has an intension to conduct concentrated demonstration projects for commercialization model of hydrogen station and home use fuel cell for duration from 2002 to 2004. 2.5 billion yen is assigned in total as budget in fiscal year 2002 and 1.6 billion yen is for hydrogen station and Engineering Advancement Association of Japan and Japan Electric Vehicle Association is to be entrusted. Oil and gas companies will construct 4 hydrogen stands to reform oil, LPG and methanol in Tokyo, Yokohama and Kawasaki. Liquefied hydrogen station in Tokyo and hydrogen station using by product gas in Kawasaki are to be constructed in 2002 in addition to the above projects. New Energy Foundation is in charge of home use fuel cell and 12 units in 2002 and 50 units by 2004 will be installed, mainly 1 kW including up to 5 kW in various areas such as cold area, mountain area, sea side area and residential area all over the nation.
    ( Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun May 27, 2002 )
   
(2)MLIT ( Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport )
    MLIT has an intension to reexamine regulations in the Building Standards Act, such as limitation of hydrogen storage and construction of hydrogen stand. Maximum storage quantity will be expanded responding to market status in diffusion level and area limitation for installation only to industrial area is extended to commercial and residential area. These regulations will be revised partly in 2004, evaluating accumulated data for the time being through experiment carried out by private industries such as Osaka Gas Co., Ltd. and confirming safety. MLIT will proceed with this reexamination work being consisted with the Fire Services Act and related regulations.
    Now, storage of the gas including hydrogen is limited to 350 m3 ( equivalent to fuel for 10 FCV ) in semi industrial area and 70 m3 or less in commercial area by article 48 of the Building Standards Act and article 116 of the Enforcement Ordinance and hydrogen supply facility is not approved to construct in commercial and residential area.
    ( Denki Shimbun May 27, 2002 )
   
(3)FC Project Team in Government
    FC Project Team ( consisted of deputy ministers of METI, MLIT and Ministry of the Environment) held the fourth meeting on May 27, 2002 and has made a report and published it, titled " the Project X from Japan - Develop Engine for Revival of Earth". The report insists that 5 million FCV and 10 GW of stationary fuel cell originally to be attained by 2020 should be attained earlier than original schedule. And verification of FCV by bus, construction of additional hydrogen station and arrangement of operation and maintenance standard which makes governmental approval possible as product type not each product by 2005 are proposed as concrete measure. And open experiment to public in Hokkaido having local characteristics, concept of FCV race as an idea to promote diffusion of fuel cell and attention to fuel cell and necessity of international standardization and comprehensive reexamination of regulations are also included. This report will be authorized at deputy ministers meeting to be held on May 30, 2002 and submitted to Council on Economical and Fiscal Policy.
    ( Yomiuri Shimbun, Asahi Shimbun, Mainichi Shimbun, Nihon Keizai Shimbun May 28, 2002 )
 
2. Activity of Public Organization
    Japan Business Federation submitted urgent request concerning regulation reform to Minister of Administrative Reform, Ishihara, which report consisted of 72 items to activate economy and reexamination of related bill to promote diffusion of FCV is also included.
    ( Nihon Keizai Shimbun, Sankei Shimbun, Nihon Kogyo Shimbun May 30, 2002 )
 
3. Development and Market Entry of MCFC
(1) CRIEPI, IHI etc.
    CRIEPI ( Central Research Institute of Electric Power Industry ), Hokkaido Electric Power Company, Inc., Chubu Electric Power Co., Inc. and IHI ( Ishikawajima-Harima Heavy Industries Co., Ltd. ) announced that they could get a prospect for commercialization of MCFC. 10 kW class MCFC ( cell size : 1 m2 ) has been operated continuously by simulated gas including impurities and they confirmed that cell decay rate is not a problem even for 10,000 hr or more operation. Hydrogen concentration is low and CO concentration is high in case of gas generated from waste or coal and also fluorine, ammonia and sulfur are included as impurities. Simulated gas has been made from CO by adding H2O. Cell decay rate is 0.25 - 0.35 % / 1000 hr and they could get a prospect for 40,000 hr operation within 10 % decay. According to the result, IHI will complete 300 kW plant at Kawagoe Thermal Power Station of Chubu Electric in summer 2002 and carry out the demonstration operation and then IHI will commercialize MCFC in 2004. They will proceed with cost reduction down to \ 400,000 / kW.
    ( Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun June 4, 2002 )
   
(2) Hukuoka City and Marubeni
    Hukuoka City and Marubeni decided to start demonstration test project of MCFC from April 2003, fueled digester gas generated from sewage treatment. The MCFC is 250 kW unit made by FCE ( FuelCell Energy, Inc. ) in USA and operation cost of the sewage treatment center would be reduced by effectively making use of generated electricity and recovered heat in the facility.
    The purposes of the demonstration are to confirm efficiency and establish technologies to generate steam or to dry sewage by using 400 exhaust gas. Marubeni has an intension to sell the MCFC all over the nation through this demonstration. 150 million yen of current unit cost will be reduced down to a half if mass production becomes possible through this demonstration.
    ( Nishinihon Shimbun June 9, 2002 )
 
4. The Development of PEFC and the Application
(1) Japan Marine Science & Technology Center (JAMSTEC)
    JAMSTEC will start the replacement work on its power source of unmanned deep-sea cruiser / explorer( called AUV: Autonomous Underwater Vehicle ) "Urashima" from lithium ion batteries to PEFC in autumn 2002 and will put her in test operation from 2003. Her cruising range is just 100km with the batteries but can extend up to 300km range with PEFC. PEFC installed has 4kw rated output in gross with 120V and aims at 50Hrs of continuous operating hours. Hydrogen as fuel is stored in hydrogen storing alloy.
    ( The Chemical Daily May 27, 2002 )
   
(2) Yokohama National University
    The group of Professor Kenichiro Ohta and Nobuyuki Kamiya of Yokohama National University have developed new catalyst which promotes electrode reaction and indicates the possibility that output current of FC will become more than 10 times in comparison with existing one. They are going to have experimental tests on PEFC which will be furnished with new catalyst in autumn, 2002. The new catalysts were made of platinum electro-plating tungsten oxide on the surface. When the catalyst as electrode are put in the solution of electrolyte, efficiency of reaction combined with hydrogen ion and oxygen increases and output of current also increases by 10 times. It is considered that reaction is promoted by tungsten oxide. Getting reaction faster, greater current can be taken out. If this reaction can be happened on the electrode of actual FC, performance of FC such as power output and efficiency are improved and also the cost reduction can be expected by cutting the quantity of precious platinum in use.
    ( Nikkei Sangyo Shimbun June 6, 2002 )
 
5. Developments of Home Use Cogeneration System with PEFC
(1) Nippon Oil Corporation
    Nippon Oil Corporation announced that they have developed 1kw PEFC system fueled LPG for home use and aimed to put them on the market in year 2004. The size is 90cm width, 42cm depth and 97cm height, almost the same size as a small refrigerator. They achieved the down sizing by increasing the performance of main components of FC and high utilization of catalyst technologies on reformer. The same type of FC will be put in service at "Kanagawa Dome Theater", multi-purpose hall in Kanagawa prefecture, from July, 2002 in order to collect the operating data under commercial use. FC is furnished an heat recovery system with a hot water tank and will be confirmed the system efficiency as co-generation system. They want to sell FC system of 1kw output in year 2002 and aim to spread them as home use.
    ( Nikkei Sangyo Shimbun May 31, 2002 )
   
(2) MHI
    Hiroshima Research & Development Center of Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Ltd. announced on June 12, 2002 that they have developed new technology of preventing catalyst from deterioration in reformation of natural gas, which the produced gas is used as fuel of home use FC and have established control system for DSS operation which allows to stop FC in midnight and re-starts in next morning, applying newly developed technology. It is a method how effectively exhausts remaining fuel gas in the system, utilizing the generated steam and exhaust gas, when FC stops and aims to prevent reformer catalyst such as platinum and copper from the deterioration by the residual fuel gas. The conventional methods now applied are continuous operation or purging with nitrogen gas. Applying the new technology, the system can be operated whenever it is necessary and this makes the energy utilization efficiency higher, moreover no space is required for nitrogen cylinders and the nitrogen charge becomes needless which normally requires a couple of ten liters for one purge on home use PEFC system. The most feasible catalyst has been searched among the reforming catalysts and the mechanism of deterioration became clear, and then the most preferable operating conditions of steam and gas temperature for the system have been determined. The Center said that the number of possible start and stop operation is well improved with the optimum operation method from a couple of decades to a couple of thousands.
    Hiroshima Research & Development Center aims to manufacture FC of 1kw output which the size is almost the same as size of outside machine of air conditioner ( 102cm height, 80cm width, 32cm depth ) and begin to put on sample sale from the end of 2002 at the price of five to six hundred thousand yen per unit. The price in year 2010, supposed to be real commercial level, will be estimated around two or three hundred thousand yen. The FC can be used for hot water supply, therefore the annual cost reduction of electricity and gas will be calculated at 50,000 yen per a family for 4 people. MHI brought together their research and development functions into Hiroshima Research & Development Center and established new development center for PEFC with staff of 50 researchers.
    ( Yomiuri Simbun, Asahi Shimbun, Nihon Keizai Shimbun, Nikkei Sangyo Shimbun June 13, 2002 )
   
(3) Babcock-Hitachi K.K.
    Babcock-Hitachi announced that they have developed a new type of natural gas reformer which reduced start-up time less than a half of that of existing one due to low operating temperature based on their own catalysts technologies. Applying new catalysts technology, process temperature of reforming could be lowered from 700 to 600 or 650 and this brought start-up time short to less than 20min. from 40min. The new reformer could produce hydrogen about in 12min. after putting power on. The reformer is to be applied on home use PEFC and will be put on sale in year 2005.
    ( Nikkei Sangyo Shimbun June 14, 2002 )
 
6. The front of FCV
(1) Honda Motor Company
    Honda has planed to rent their FCV which will be put on the market in year 2003. They intend to offer FCV with reasonable cost, while the FCV prices are said over a hundred million yen. They also aim to prevent top technologies from outgoing. President Yoshino said that they would take the same pattern as selling Asimo of walking robot with two legs. FCV has been applied many technologies under development and may requires various kinds of maintenance works but dealers are supposed not to correspond to these requirements. As a result, maker's technicians will be sent at the spot and treat these works. To keep FCV in the best conditions and to collect driving data, rental system is considered to have many advantages. Honda supposes that initial FCV users may be limited on corporate bodies who can install hydrogen supply station, because of FCV needing pure hydrogen gas as fuel. At present, the candidates are only the government who express buying FCV as official car.
    ( Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun May 27, 2002 )
   
(2) Toyota Motor Corporation
    Toyota Motor Corporation announced on may 30, 2002 that Toyota will exhibit and demonstrate FC bus at Japan International Exposition to be held in 2005. The Association for the Exposition intends to utilize the bus for transportation of visitors at main site, Aichi Youth Park.
    ( Chunichi Shimbun May 31, 2002 )
   
(3) Nissan Motor Co., Ltd.
    Nissan installed pressurized hydrogen fueled PEFC system on the pick up base car "XTERRA" of US exclusive 4WD, and has been conducting public road test from April 2001, participating CaFCP. The tentative targets of road test by this model are 120 km/h as the maximum speed and cruising range more than 200 km. As they could get a prospect to achieve these targets they decided to step the development up to next stage, test by small car. Installing FC on C segment car (Sunny class) within this year, public road test will be conducted in USA. Conducting FCV development to commercialize in 2005, Nissan Motor intends to achieve 200 mile cruising range by small car test and early realization with vision of commercialization.
    ( The Daily Automotive News June 5, 2002 )
7. Development of Micro Fuel Cell
    Hitachi Ltd., cooperating with their 10 group companies, organized a "General Promotion Center for Nano-Technology" and the organization concentrates to develop 4 products such as FC and plastics, utilizing nano-technology. They plan to develop methanol fueled portable FC and commercialize it for mobile phone and personal computer in 2003 ~04, improving its output power and durability by adopting molecule structure control technology in nano level and applying it to electrolyte manufacturing.
    ( Nikkei Sangyo Shimbun June 10, 2002 )
 
8. Hydrogen Related Technology
    The Japan Steel Works, Ltd. (JSW) developed and put the high pressure hydrogen compressor into market which compresses hydrogen to 30 bar and charge hydrogen into storage tank. The price is 20 or 30 million yen. JSW plans sales campaign to motor car manufacturers and others as a primary machinery of hydrogen station for FCV which is expected to be installed more than 100 sets by 2005, combining hydrogen storage tank which have developed and been on market. Also JSW states that they plan to propose the total hydrogen station system combined with fuel reformer and hydrogen generating system, in the future.
    JSW organized "Hydrogen Energy Development Center" which is in charge of development of FC related technology in June, 2001, and assigned special team in last June at Hiroshima Factory manufacturing the high pressure compressor to strengthen the tie-up with production sector. JSW has a experience to supply compressor to hydrogen station in Takamatsu City although German manufacturer supplied hydrogen compressor to station constructed as NEDO project in Osaka City in February, 2002.
    ( Nikkei Sangyo Shimbun June 6, 2002 )
9. Instrumentation for Fuel Cell
    CHINO Corporation developed FC evaluation test facility and will put it into market in the end of June, 2002. The system can be applied to FC stack with some 10 cells in the maximum and can be utilized for realization test ranging from home use unit to large car unit, by expanding measurement range to 100 kW in power load. The system consists of fuel gas supply unit, humidity control unit, cooling unit and evaluation unit. Controlling temperature, humidity and hydrogen gas flow by computer, power generation efficiency and electric current characteristics can be measured. The price is 20 to 50 million yen and they expect sales amount of more than 10 units in 2002.
    ( Nikkei Sangyo Shimbun June 7, 2002 )
10. Company Activity
    Nissimbo Industries Inc. organized a specialist team they are in charge of the development of carbon products applied to PDA. Molding technology to make thin element will be developed for parts of PDA FC which is expected to be realized in 2004. And establishing separator manufacturing facility of which capacity is 2 million per year in May, 2002 at Miai Factory and it started production. The investment cost is 200 or 300 million yen. Also, they assigned FC related researchers to the factory from Research and Development Center in Chiba City. Among of them, the specialist team assigned to PDA will concentrate to development of thin and compact technology.
    ( Nikkei Sangyo Shimbun May 27, 2002 )
    Nissimbo Industries Inc. increases production capacity of carbon separator for PEFC to some 10 million per year, step by step. In addition to delivery for home use and portable type FC, inquiries from car manufacturer are increasing and they decided to increase production capacity to cope with FCV realization. They already commercialized carbon product which has about 2 times of conventional one in strength and 0.25 mm thick which correspond to 1/4 of conventional ones, and will accelerate the development, providing flexibility which is difficult in conventional technology.
    ( The Chemical Daily June 10, 2002 )
-This edition is made up as of July, 2002.-