THE LATEST FUEL CELL NEWS IN JAPAN, AUGUST 2002

Arranged by T. HOMMA
1. Governmental Policy and Activity
2. Development and Market Entry of SOFC
3. Development, Production and Commercialization of PEFC
4. Development and Demonstration for Home Use FC
5. The Front of FCV
6. FC as Propulsion System for Marine Use
7. Micro FC and DMFC@
8. Development for Reforming and Hydrogen Generating Technologies
9. FC Related Instrumentation Technology
10. FC Kit for Teaching Aid and FCV Model Car

1. Governmental Policy and Activity
(1)MLIT, METI and ME
    Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport (MLIT), Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) and Ministry of the Environment decided a policy to select Hokkaido as model area to introduce FC and will carry out demonstration publicly opened at Sapporo city in the end of July 2002. Practical test will be started to use FC for heating and air conditioning of government and municipal offices and take the initiative to use FCV and install hydrogen stands to charge hydrogen to FCV in 2003. The above three ministries will store know-how to make use of FC in Hokkaido and expand the utilization area all over the nation until 2005.
    ( Nihon Keizai Shimbun July 3, 2002 )
    MLIT will start demonstration test of hydrogen/FC system under cooperation with Hokkaido University from July 27, 2002. The main subject is basic experiment to make use of utilization technology concerning organic hydride, which the university has. And demonstration tests of cogeneration and FCV both will be carried out at the same time. Electrolysis of water using electricity generated by solar cell and the generated hydrogen will be stored as organic hydride and supply hydrogen from the hydride to operate PEFC. The test will be publicly opened until August 11, 2002 at Sapporo Satoland to collect students of elementary and middle school during summer holiday to make them have interest in FC.
    ( Denki Shimbun July 9, 2002, Nihon Kogyo Shimbun July 10, 2002 The Chemical Daily July 11, 2002 )
   
(2)METI and NEDO
    METI has a plan to develop mainly PEFC which the subjects include improvement of efficiency, cost reduction and extension of stack life toward next generation fuel cell. And they will raise research organizations and start to entrust, from universities and industries such as automotive, electro-machinery and IT through NEDO within 2002. The subject on electrolyte membrane is to develop new material for electrolyte membrane made of polyimide chemical compound for PEFC, which has durability for higher temperature operation than 100 Ž in comparison with@conventional fluorine chemical compound. The subject on catalyst is to develop new alloy which is cheaper and stronger for CO than conventional platinum. Further, research for extension of stack life and development of hybrid system combined with solar cell are also taken up. Technology development for circumferential technologies such as high pressure tank equipped with car, improvement of safety for hydrogen station and arrangement of infrastructure are included and total integration is planned finally. METI intends to get budgets for these subjects under cooperation with Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology.
    ( Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun July 9, 2002 )
    METI will construct five hydrogen station using 2.5 billion yen in Tokyo metropolitan area and start demonstration test for stationery FC. About 1.5 billion yen is assigned for hydrogen station and the related in total budget of 2.5 billion yen and five places to satisfy with safety regulations will be selected in semi industrial area to construct hydrogen station by contractors who could conduct the demonstration test in 2002 - 2004. The fuels and hydrogen production methods are varied for comparison in the each area, such as gasoline or methanol. The detail is to be decided soon, such as the site and contractors. On the other hand, demonstration test facility will be completed in July at Yokohama, which NEDO entrusted it to Engineering Advancement Association of Japan. And demonstration test project for stationery FC has been raised proposal, which are installed FC at home. They intend to accelerate development of FC in this country through these projects.
    ( The Chemical Daily July 12, 2002 )
   
(3)Ministry of the Environment
    ME has a plan to construct FC test plant using methane gas generated from garbage in Nagoya city. Nagoya city government has requested the budget according to intension of former Environmental Protection Agency, as one of special financial support in compensation for construction of refuse proposal plant already given up in Fujimae Higata(dry beach). This is No.2 plant succeeding to plant installed in September 2001 at Kobe city and the site and plant size is to be decided through meetings with city to materialize the project. According to the research of FC power plant made use of garbage so far, strict selection of garbage is necessary because efficiency of the power plant decreases if some foreign substances are included in the garbage and this results in difficulty of profitability to commercialize. ME will tackle to develop new technology to solve this problem. It becomes easy to get necessary land for garbage treatment for cities who need to decrease a quantity of garbage, if this technology is realized.
    ( Chunichi Shimbun July 10, 2002 )
 
2. Development and Market Entry of SOFC
    NKK Corporation announced that they will put both small and large scale SOFC into market at the same time in 2004 which are 5 kW and 250 kW or larger with high efficiency of 45 - 55 % and easy to make use of exhaust heat. They will start verification test by small scale from November 2002 and reflect the know how obtained by the test to large scale test.
    NKK has concluded agreements both for Canadian and American companies and has sales rights in Japan. They will import small scale unit of 5 kW from FCT ( Fuel Cell Technologies )in Canada and large scale of 250 kW from SWPC ( Siemens Westinghouse Power Co. ) in USA. They will verify start up time and load following characteristics in small scale unit test and they will reflect the test results to large scale which the same cell is used. They will put SOFC of domestic specification on market in 2004 which cell production facility of SWPC being constructed in Pittsburg now will enter full operation. Both prices are estimated as the same 2 million yen per kW.
    ( Nikkei Sangyo Shimbun July 8, 2002 )
 
3. Development, Production and Commercialization of PEFC
(1)Japan Storage Battery Co., Ltd.
    Japan Storage Battery announced that they will produce PEFC for FCV from spring in 2003 which is one year earlier than original schedule. They accelerate the development as the first priority because automotive companies intend early commercialization of FCV. PEFC developed by Japan Storage Battery has the same capability to generate power though platinum consumption has been decreased in one tenth.
    ( Sankei Shimbun, Nihon Kogyo Shimbun July 5, 2002 )
   
(2)Kubota Corporation
    Kubota intends to extend the range of agreement with GEFCS ( GE Fuel Cell Systems ), affiliate company of GE and makes cooperation development of PEFC and puts them on market by 2005. They also plan improvements such as basic research for improvement of efficiency and additional monitoring system to be able to do emergency shut down from remote area for domestic market.
    Kubota established New Environmental Project in April 2001 and has promoted commercialization of soil clean up, micro gas turbine and FC. They intend to put 5 kW PEFC on market by 2004- 2005 by increasing 10 more special staffs in charge for FC at the stage when they expand the range of agreement with GEFCS. They will sell the PEFC unit mainly for large restaurant and condominium.
    ( Nikkei Sangyo Shimbun July 9, 2002 )
 
4. Development and Demonstration for Home Use FC
(1)Tokyo Gas Co., Ltd.
    Tokyo Gas installed 1 kW stationery PEFC at home not specified in Yokohama city and Saitama city and started a full operation. They developed automatic control system for power generation and hot water supply in order to maximize energy saving and aimed at 15 % energy saving at the maximum by applying the technology. They intend to continue the test by March 2003 and improve the system and then put it on market in 2004 at price of about 500,000 \.
    ( Yomiuri Shimbun June 21, 2002 )
   
(2)Sanyo Electric Co., Ltd.
    Sanyo intends to develop 1 kW PEFC domestic application system with 35 % efficiency in 2002 and they will reduce the cost after the development and put it on market in 2005. They said that they got prospect to attain 35 % efficiency, target for commercialization by improving reforming efficiency of natural gas and also stack voltage. Cost reduction as next target will attain by cost reduction of bipolar plate down to several hundred yen by mass production which is 10000 \ per plate now and also by adopting cheap pump. They want to attain cost target of \500,000 by the above. Further, they plan to store electricity during low demand by installation of secondary battery and reduce procurement of electricity from grid during high demand.
    ( Nikkei Sangyo Shimbun July 8, 2002 )
   
(3) Osaka Gas Co., Ltd.
    Osaka Gas held a preliminary meeting explaining their commercialization strategy for home use FC on July 9, 2002 with 18 companies such as Matsushita Electric Industrial Co., Ltd., Sanyo Electric Co., Ltd. and Toshiba Corporation, which is one year earlier than initial schedule. It is due to developments of FC being accelerated and they will select two supplier by April 2004, from which they will purchase FC of 500 - 5,000 units.
    Osaka Gas published their target specifications for commercialization at the pre-explanation meeting and will collect the operating data from the manufacturers by the final explanation meeting scheduled in April 2003. They will have presentations from manufacturers in May 2003 and will select 3-4 manufacturers for cooperation development in June. They will jointly fabricate pilot units and perform test operations with these manufacturers and finally select two manufacturers which will be able to supply higher performance units and then will make contracts for purchasing units and will fabricate pilot units for mass-production and apply on them various kinds of tests concerned to installation and maintenance. As for finally selected manufacturers, they can expect to have stable orders and will have good advantages in the future market. Osaka Gas would not change their original target of putting FC units on market in 2005 but there is some possibility to put FC in market in 2004, if developments will go well.
    ( Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun July 9, 2002 )
 
5. The Front of FCV
(1) Honda Motor Co., Ltd.
    Honda has set their target on starting abilities of FCV in cold weather conditions of minus 20Ž. As FC produces water while generating the power, minus temperature makes water into ice and this possibly prevents FC from starting. Furthermore, electrolytes of PEFC require humidity so that FCV has to be furnished water tank. Cooling systems like as petrol engine cars use anti freeze and keep the starting ability under the freezing point but FCV can not apply this system. Honda will design most suitable layout and take unique countermeasures to enforce the insulation ability and then aim to establish anti freezing technologies without heating system.
    ( The Daily Automotive News June 15, 2002 )
    Mr. Yoshino, president of Honda announced in press conference on July 10, 2002 that they will commercialize FCV earlier than original schedule and suggests putting FCV on sale in the year of 2002. However, he did not commit the date of sales because of the unknown factors remained on cost and infrastructure.
    ( Nihon Keizai Shimbun, Sankei Shimbun, The Daily Automotive News July 11, 2002 )
   
(2) Mitsubishi Motors Corporation
    While Mitsubishi Motors Corporation had been developed FC under cooperation with Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Ltd., Mitsubishi Motors Corporation decided to cancel the joint enterprise and would start to develop FCV with the direct hydrogen injection systems, under the cooperation with Daimler-Chrysler, a capital tie-up company. On the other hand, Daimler-Chrysler had developed FCV of methanol reforming systems with Ford Motors but the infrastructure of systems have not prepared yet and their technologies have not been well established, therefore Daimler-Chrysler has decided to develop FCV with hydrogen fuel under the cooperation with Mitsubishi Motors Corporation. The Japanese government undertakes to carry out the public road tests on FCV from 2003 and they will perticipate the road tests as the group of Daimler-Chrysler and Mitsubishi.
    ( The Daily Automotive News June 17, 2002 )
   
(3) Toyota
    Toyota Motor Corporation has begun to research hydrogen-storing technologies with carbon nanotube for practical use. Toyota intends to put it in practical use as hydrogen tank of FCV and first of all wants to establish the evaluation methods of hydrogen-storing ratio and then develops the compact and high efficiency hydrogen tank based on this method. In spite of many researchers developing the carbon nanotube to increase the storing ratio of hydrogen, the evaluation methods of test data has not been established yet and it is difficult at present to judge the objective evaluations. Therefore, Toyota has begun to establish the international standard of the evaluation methods.
    ( The Daily Automotive News June 19, 2002 )
    Toyota Motor Corporation announced July 1, 2002 that they will put FCV on sale in 2002 both in Japan and USA. They had carried out the test drives of total 110,000km with "FCHV-4" from June 2001 in Japan and from July 2001 in USA and got the good results. They judged from these data that these cars could be placed in practical use and would put them on sale faster than the original schedule of 2003. As these cars have still problems on costs and driving performance on cold weather conditions, they will put the limited number of cars of 20 on markets, including in Japan and USA, and intend to lease these cars to the limited customers such as government agents, research agents and energy related companies. The sales area will be California State in USA and Tokyo and Yokohama in Japan because of the availability of hydrogen gas station.
    ( Asahi Shimbun, Chunichi Shimbun July 1, 2002, Yomiuri Shimbun, Asahi Shimbun, Mainichi Shimbun, Nihon Keizai Shimbun, Sankei Shimbun, Nikkei Sangyo Shimbun, Nihon Kogyo Shimbun, Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun, Tokyo Shimbun, The Daily Automotive News July 2, 2002, The Chemical daily July 3, 2002 )
 
6. FC as Propulsion Systems for Marine Use
    Japan Marine Science and Technology Center will load PEFC on Deep Sea Cruising AUV ( autonomous underwater vehicle ) "Urashima" from 2003 as its power equipment instead of present Li-ion batteries. Urashima, autonomous underwater vehicle, has been developed by JAMSTEC in 1998, cost with three billion yen. She can navigate autonomously depending on the input data in the computer and furnishes with the measuring device for salt density. She recorded the navigation at depth of 3,518m in 2001. However, her continuous navigation range is limited to 100km in case of Li-ion batteries and will be tried to extend the navigation range to 300km by replacing with PEFC of 4kw output. Hydrogen as fuel of PEFC will be stored in the hydrogen-storing alloy and oxygen will be stored in the high pressure cylinders. Because of discharged water from FC not being pumped out of the vehicle, as water pressure becomes 350bars at 3,500m of underwater, closed type of FC will be introduced which is now under development in Germany. In order to navigate under the ice floes of the Arctic Ocean, the navigation range of 1,000km is said required and getting the basic data of FC will be also aimed so as to realize the longer range of navigation, JAMSTEC said.
    ( Tokyo Shimbun July 6, 2002 )
7. Micro FC and DMFC
    Prof. Koichi Kobayashi et al, Musashi Institute of Technology, have improved catalyst to separate hydrogen from methanol for DMFC, utilizing inexpensive titanium oxide instead of ruthenium, rare metal and proved to be able to get the realistic performance by laboratory test. It is expected to be adopted to DMFC of PDA. The catalyst consists of 4 ~ 6 nm diameter titanium oxide sintered on platinum surface at 500 Ž, and methanol decomposition reaction proceeded smoothly without CO poisoning as CO is oxide to CO2 on the surface of catalyst by reactivity of titanium oxide. Incase of laboratory test integrating it in FC, the electric power generation capability was reduced to 60 % of ruthenium, but this performance is enough for power source of PDA. It contributes to reduce the cost of FC as titanium is inexpensive.
    ( Nikkei Sangyo Shimbun June 17, 2002 )
 
8. Development of Reformer and Hydrogen Generating Technologies
(1) Air Water
    Air Water Inc. (Osaka City), the major gas industry company, developed LPG reformer which can start up within 10 minutes. Utilizing newly developed catalyst which is active at lower temperature of 300 Ž, and start up time is extremely reduced from 1 hour by existing catalyst. As the less than 1 minute start up is fore-seen, they will disclose the detail after the NEDO intermediate technical examination which is scheduled in autumn of 2003. The newly developed catalyst consists of platinum and rhodium for oxidizing and nickel and cerium for endothermic reaction. Though the existing ruthenium catalyst is required to heat up to 700 ~ 800 Ž for starting reaction, new catalyst which reacts at lower temperature of 300 ~ 400 Ž and so the starting time of reformer can be reduced. They stated that lower price and compact sample unit which can generate hydrogen within 10 minutes stably will be completed within this year and the unit which can start within 1 minute will be developed in spring of 2003.
    ( The Chemical Daily June 20, 2002 )
   
(2) WASEDA University
    Mr. Yasushi Sekine, assistant to professor, WASEDA University, developed simple method to yield hydrogen from gasoline and methanol by electric discharge. The features are to make unit more compact in comparison with existing catalyst method and to react at lower temperature. Aiming at realization within 2 years, they established a venture enterprise "Research Institute for Business Creation " As concrete method, hydrogen is generated by injecting gasoline into discharge tube, 8 mm diameter and 5 cm length which is made of heat-resisting glass and charging about 9,000 volt intermittently. Also vodka was tested and hydrogen was generated.
    ( Nihon Keizai Shimbun June 28, 2002 )
   
(3) The Japan Gas Association
    The Japan Gas Association announced that they developed extremely compact town gas steam reformer which generate 10 % more hydrogen than conventional one and the size is one eighth to one tenth of conventional one. Hydrogen rich gas generated from methane rich town gas by steam reforming catalyst reaction, is fed to palladium alloy thin membrane and then separated hydrogen is adsorbed and recovered by special alloy. Residual CO separated from hydrogen is burned and the generated heat is utilized for reforming reaction. As the reaction temperature is about 500 Ž, lower than conventional one, inexpensive stainless steal can be used. With entrust from NEDO, researchers from such as Tokyo Gas Co., Ltd and Osaka Gas Co., Ltd developed this reformer under cooperation.
    ( Nihon Keizai Shimbun July 12, 2002 )
9. FC Related Instrumentation Technology
    CHINO Corporation developed FC test facility and started to put it on market from June 21, 2002. Providing such as high speed cell cooler, automatic cleaning for moisturizing tank and selective temperature controller as standard scope, object of the system is to carry out PEFC short stack evaluation test. The price of standard 1 kW electric load type is 30 million yen and options such as high speed moisturizing control function and electron loading unit with resistance measurement function can be offered. FC exclusive version of industrial soft ware "CISAS/EX" is installed for operation and it is reported that data acquisition becomes easy, such as initial activation just after FC fabrication, Tafel measurement, constant fuel utilization control and automatic data selective recording.
    ( Nihon Kogyo Shimbun July 1, 2002, Denpa Shimbun July 3, 2002, The Chemical Daily July 4, 2002 )
10. FC Kit for Teaching Aid and FVC Model Car
(1) Nishi Nihon Radio Co., Ltd
    Nishi Nihon Radio Co., Ltd (Fukuoka City), trading company treating electronics and parts, plans to sell assembling kit of small FC single cell to their already established market route for school and education related organizations and also to the enterprises and to establish its related business.
    ( Denpa Shimbun June 22, 2002 )
   
(2) Terrarium Co., Ltd.
    Terrarium Co., Ltd. (Kawasaki City), a seller of environmental related commodities, will market model cars driven by FC from July 2002. The model is product of Garman manufacturer for scientific teaching aid, "H-TEC" and Terrarium will import and market. The system of this model car is, to generate hydrogen from water filled in loaded tank on car, by electrolysis energized by solar cell or home electricity (AC adapter is provided) and to drive electric motor by 500 mW PEFC. Discharged water from FC is returned to car loaded tank. Name of products to be put on market is "High Runner" which is 20 cm overall length, 9 cm width, 7.5 cm height and 260 g in weight and can run for 8 minutes by about 30 cc water. Marketing price is 58 thousand yen.
    ( Nikkei Sangyo Shimbun June 27, 2002 )
   
(3) DAIDO METAL Co., Ltd
    DAIDO METAL Co., Ltd, car parts manufacturer, started marketing "Mini FCV" which can be run for 4 hours by one child. A compact and light weight FC, developed jointly with DCH Technology Inc, USA, is installed on children toy car which is mimic of Toyota mini-van "ESTIMA". The frame can withstand 25 kg load at the maximum and primary school children in lower class can drive. Starting marketing activity with the price of about 300 thousand yen, they plan to promote exhibition purposes for educational facility, such as government organization and science museum. Also they will market new type for primary school children in elder class and this car will be mimic of Nissan "Skyline" and be designed to withstand 60 kg load at the maximum. DAIDO METAL has produced also micro FC for mobile phone and teaching aid FC for school.
    ( Nihon Keizai Shimbun July 5, 2002 )
   
   
-This edition is made up as of August, 2002.-