THE LATEST FUEL CELL NEWS IN JAPAN, OCTOBER-2 2002

Arranged by T. HOMMA
1. Government Policy and Activity
2. Policy and Activity of Local Government 
3. Development of MCFC Application
4. Development in Technology and Market of SOFC
5. Research and Development and the Application in PEFC
6. Research and Development of Micro FC
7. Development of Reformers and Related Technologies
8.The Front of FCV
9. Hydrogen Production, Supply and Storage Technology

1.Government Policy and Activity
(1)Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport
  Although the national government has a plan to put FCV of 50,000 on market by 2010, MLIT intends to make gPR operationh under cooperation with automotive makers and related persons, from a point of view that understanding by users must be obtained in order to realize the target. The diffusion might be suppressed if a preconception spreads, that hydrogen is dangerous when to think car collision or some troubles. MLIT thinks that continuous and systematic enlightenment activity is must, which explains principle of FCV, environmental performance and the safety, under cooperation with METI(Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry), Ministry of the Environment and automotive makers and they intends to make a PR strategy for 10 years from now on.
( The Daily Automotive News September 5, 2002 )

  MLIT has a policy to add FCV to expense frame of the fund coming from road revenue from 2003. They have requested the development budget of 500 million yen for FCV in 2003. They will develop FCV for road inspection by the budget and then they aim at the percussion effect to the FCV as civil use.
( Denki Shimbun September 5, 2002 )

  MLIT will start a development and promotion program for home use FC from 2003. They will conduct tests to verify effectiveness of FC for 3 years under various weather conditions and take data how it affects to total thermal efficiency and the cost for light and fuel according to change of season and locality.
( Kensetsu Tsushin Shimbun September 9, 2002, September 25, 2002 )

 
2. Policy and Activity of Local Govrenment
(1)Aichi Prefecture
  Aichi announced gAichi Strategy for Automobile and Environment for New Century ( Draft )h being contained introduction of FCV at the first half of 2003. They will take the lead for introduction of the first FCV as local government. They intend to adopt Toyota car under lease and to promote arrangement of hydrogen supply facilities.
( Nikkei Sangyo Shimbun September 10, 2002 )

(2)Tsukuba City
  Tsukuba has made a special area plan to introduce and diffuse new energy such as FC and wind power under cooperation with university, research institute and private industries in the area. They intend to establish public corporation as the third sector, who will buy electricity generated by power generators installed at home or office and sell them to electric utility company.
( Nikkei Sangyo Shimbun September 20, 2002 )


 
3. Development of MCFC Application
  Chubu Electric Power Co., Inc. announced on September 18, 2002 that they have a plan to construct and demonstrate 300 kW class MCFC power generation plant combined with waste gasification facility at Japan International Exhibition to be held in 2005 and supply the generated power to a part of the pavilion. The fuel gas will be generated by gasification of the waste to be collected in the Exhibition area. Chubu Electric will conduct demonstration test to generate power soon by the similar system at their Shin-Nagoya Thermal Power Station under cooperation with IHI( Ishikawajima-Harima Heavy Industries Co., Ltd.).
  They will adopt partial oxidation as gasifier to take hydrogen and CO out of combustible wastes such as wood and plastics in the demonstration and the test term is 3 years from 2002 and the budget is about 1.1 billion yen. Chubu Electric will introduce MCFC as the first commercial unit from IHI and operate it using natural gas in order to take the basic performance within 2002 and then they will operate it using simulated gas of low calorific value under cooperation with IHI. And Chubu will install gasifier which has capacity to gasify waste of 3.5 T/D and verify the power generation efficiency using actual gasified gas of waste.
( Denki Shimbun, Nihon Kogyo Shimbun, Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun, Chunichi Shimbun September 19,2002, Nikkei Sangyo Shimbun September 20, 2002 )

 
4. Development in Technology and Market of SOFC
(1) Sumitomo Corporation
  Sumitomo clarified on September 7, 2002, their policy to put SOFC on domestic market from 2003. Sumitomo got exclusive sales right by 3% capital investment to Acumentrics Corporation in the USA. And they will start mass production of the SOFC from summer in 2003. Their target markets are convenience store and telecommunication industry.
( Nihon Keizai Shimbun September 5, 2002, Yomiuri Shimbun September 8, 2002 )

(2) Seimi Chemical Co., Ltd.
  Seimi Chemical ( Chigasaki City ) intends to strengthen development of materials to be used for middle or low temperature SOFC operated at 800 Ž or below and supply oxidized metal for electrolyte and others. They have already shipped samples to fuel cell fabricators and will raise this as major pole in new business because of being active orders.
( The Chemical Daily September 24, 2002 )

 
5. Research and Development and Application in PEFC
(1)Hitachi, Ltd.
  Hitachi has developed material technology to be able to manufacture ion exchange membrane and separator for PEFC at cost of 1/70-1/100 in comparison with conventional material. Further, they developed reformer which can shorten start up time to 1/4. They will complete home use PEFC system with 35% efficiency by integrating these new technologies in 2003. Further, they intend to accelerate development of fuel cell for FCV.
  Ion exchange membrane developed by Hitachi is sulfonation-hydrocarbon which hydrocarbon is ordinary engineering plastics and the sulfonation-hydrocarbon indicated almost the same initial characteristics as fluoride resin membrane, according to test data by 3 cm square. This success is because of accurate material design in molecular level and life test will be conducted from now and further, operating temperature will be increased from 80 Ž to 120 Ž as target and the cost will be reduced down to 1/10.
  Separator is metal which light matrix metal is covered with anti-corrosion metal of several ƒÊm thickness and further painted over the metal. Degradation has not been found by 5,000 h operation. The weight is a half of carbon separator and the thickness is 1/3. Cost reduction is expected down to 1/70, if commercialized.
  Hitachi developed reformer which is internal reforming type and the start up time is 15-30 minutes, under cooperation with Babcock-Hitachi K.K.
( Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun September 13, 2002 )

(2) Toshiba IFC
  Toshiba IFC(TIFC) will take action to mass-produce the 5kw output stationary PEFC in 2004 as the first commercial unit and has made a prototype model at Toshiba Home Technology Corporation (in Kamo city, Niigata prefecture). They had developed a stationary type FC of 1kw packaged type unit but they considered that they could get more merits by making commercial units of 5kw at first in order to cut the cost not only in American market but also in Japanese market. These FCs will be applied for commercial use or condominium. The prototype unit for commercialization was assembled at TIFC with a FC stack supplied by UTCFC and a reformer of internal combustion type which had been developed by Hydrogen Sources, and TIFC is in charge of an inverter, auxiliary equipment and packaging. This reformer is 5% lower in efficiency compared with steam reforming type but has features of quick start ability, compactness in size and also low cost. They will make a few units in 2003, and after increase their reliability and power generation efficiency up to 35%, then put it in mass production. They expect that the production cost will become less than 1 million yen/kw when the production is coming up to 40 `@50 units per year.
  The company has been developing the reforming technologies which can be applied for any of city gas, LPG and kerosene. Kerosene is cheap but is hard to reform. And LPG is expensive. Therefore city gas may become main target to apply for FC. The result of trial calculation shows that the electricity fee paying for utility company is cheaper than that generated by FC under the present gas fee, accordingly the reduction of gas fee is the key item for popularization of FC.
( Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun September 19, 2002, Denki Shimbun September 25,2002 )

  Toshiba Home Technology Corporation (in Kamo city) has begum the trial operation on a home use 700w PEFC system applicable both for city gas and LPG at the factory in Kamo city, which had been developed under cooperation between Toshiba IFC and Toshiba Household Appliance Company (Subsidiary of Toshiba Corporation). It can supply 300 l/day of hot water at 60 Ž and has about the same size as outdoor machine of air conditioner. They will produce 7 units of 3rd generation and accelerate developments and aim to really put them on sale in 2005. Further, they will produce 5kw commercial use units and develop pumps and air blowers for FCs by themselves at the same time and is going to sell them to other manufacturers
( The Daily Niigata September 27, 2002 )

(3)MHI
  Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Ltd. announced the result of simulation based on the domestic users with a family of 4 persons that they could save light and heat expense of 50,000 yen per year by using PEFC to meet with electricity consuming pattern. The simulation had been done under the assumption of FC being used on DSS operation, which stop FC at night and start in the morning, and high turn down ratio operation, which operate FC about 20% load in low electricity demand, in addition the following figures were taken into account in the simulation; present electricity fee of 13.4 yen/kwh and fuel gas fee (for FC) of 123 yen/m3, to be newly adopt when PEFC will be in service.
( Denki Shimbun September 20, 2002 )
  Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Ltd. has planned to arrange a series of 1kw, 10kw, 30kw and 50kw output stationary PEFC. As for the 1kw unit for city gas, 2 units as samples will be shipped in December, 2002 and 10 units will be shipped in 2003 and used to verify the performance in the field test for domestic use FC, which is sponsored by Japan New Energy Foundation. The test will begin in 2002. FC units will be put on sale from 2005. A 10kw unit will be available by autumn of 2003 and the development of reformer fueled kerosene for 50kw unit has been started. The unit efficiency will be improved to 35 % by the first sale. Moreover, they have plans that 1m square PEFC with output of 100kw will be put in practical use with good capability for load changes, which will be applied on ships and waste treatment facilities. Applicable fuels are considered all natural gas, methanol, LPG, naphtha and DME and kerosene is also targeted, which is considered the most difficult to reform. They aim to make a practical reformer whichever fuels can be applied.
( Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun September 26, 2002 )

(4)Toho Gas and Rinnai Corporation
  Toho Gas Co., Ltd. and Rinnai announced that they have started the cooperative development on the hot water supply and heating systems making use of exhaust gas, to be combined with domestic use PEFC. They will thereafter carry out the system manufacturing and evaluation of operation at Toho Gas Laboratory and set the target on commercialization in 2005, keeping the pace with PEFC progress. This system has a heating burner for hot water and can produce any range of required temperature. The tank capacity is about 150 liters and the volume of FC package is targeted less than 500 liters, consequently they intend to commercialize it with the compactness and easy installation ability.
( Denki Shimbun, Nikkei Sangyo Shimbun, Nihon Kogyo ShimbunANikkan Kogyo Shimbun September 27, 2002 )


 
6. Research and Development of Micro FC
  Kansai Collaboration Center of National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology has developed a small FC using water solution of ascorbic acid as a fuel which is a component of vitamin C. The prototype FC with electrode area of 10 cm2produced the output of 6 mW/cm2, which was about a half of that by DMFC. A researcher said vitamin C is harmless to the human body and it is suitable for electric source as living necessaries which might be misused by children and can be considered to apply for electric source of the artificial heart in the future.
( Nikkei Sangyo Shimbun September 19, 2002, Nihon Kogyo Shimbun September 20, 2002 )

7. Developments of Reformers and Related Technologies
(1) Kawasaki Heavy Industries, Ltd.
  Kawasaki Heavy Industries has developed a reformer for natural gas of which the start up time has been shortened to around 10 min. from 1hour in the conventional type and intends to participate in the FC cogeneration business with the reformer as a core component. They have improved heat transfer and heat capacity of the catalyst reaction device and attained in increasing the efficiency and shortening the start up time. These bring the operation easy such that stop the unit in midnight and start in the next morning. Thereafter, they intend to develop their own system and investigate the possibility of selling the catalyst reactor device independently. The sales targets are set on the cogeneration systems for condominiums and convenience stores, therefore their output range will be 10 ~ 30 kw. The target of the commercialization is set in 2006.
( Nihon Keizai Shimbun August 31, 2002 )

(2) Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Ltd. and Tokyo Gas Co., Ltd.
  Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Ltd. (MHI), jointly with Tokyo Gas Co., Ltd. builds a demonstration plant of 40 Nm3/h hydrogen production plant fueled town gas (natural gas) which reforming technology is used hydrogen permeable membrane. The plant will be built at Tokyo Gas site in Minami Senju and completed by June 2003, and they plan to commercialize by 2004. The feature of the plant is its compactness and the size is 1/5 to 1/8 of conventional hydrogen production plant (PSA), and the same reliability level as PSA is their target. The construction of this reforming system is that, 96 pieces hydrogen separation module which is made of perforated stainless steel supporter laminated with 20 ƒÊm palladium alloy membrane are inserted in nickel catalyst. The catalyst is formed in honeycomb, and the reaction proceeds with efficiently.
  With subsidy of NEDO and The Japan Gas Association, they have confirmed 99.999 % purity and 70 % efficiency of hydrogen production by 20 Nm3/h scale hydrogen production plant. Also they have carried out 30 times start up and shut down tests and 1,300 hours continuous run test, and confirmed 30 % hydrogen production increase by combining with hydrogen booster which utilizes hydrogen storing alloy.
  Though this project is natural gas reforming, multiple fuel reforming system are expected to be realized, such as for LPG fuel which can be reformed by replacing catalyst of pre-reforming process.
( Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun September 6, 2002 )

(3) Miyazaki University
  Prof. Tsuyoshi Kijima, Miyazaki University, developed platinum tube of which diameter is less than 10 nm. The developed platinum tube is 6 nm in outer diameter, 3 nm in inner diameter and several 10 nm in length, and it is obtained as black powder by adding reagent to chloroplatinate solution. Though the carbon material added fine platinum particles of some nm diameter are used for the reformer, the surface area of platinum tube is bigger than platinum particle and reforming capacity is expected to be improved 2 times for methanol. Quantity of platinum is reduced by improving performance and results in the cost reduction of FC system.
(Nihon Keizai Shimbun September 13, 2002)

 
8. The Front of FCV 
  NISSAN MOTOR CO.,LTD. announced that NISSAN plans to carry out FCV public road test within this year. Now NISSAN proceeds with development scheduling to sale 10 FCV in 2003 for domestic market, and plans public road test in 2002 before the realization, getting approval of Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport. FCV of NISSAN is fueled with hydrogen and PEFC stacks are procured from Ballard Power Systems.
( The Daily Automotive News September 6, 2002 )

  NISSAN exhibited and demonstrated FCV test car to cultural exchange meeting with local residents held at Tochigi factory on September 8, 2002. The base body is gXTERRASh, loading two 75 litter compressed hydrogen bottles at aft body and PEFC loaded at mid body is driven by the hydrogen gas. The maximum speed is 150 km/h and cruising range of about 200 km is possible.
(Shimotsuke Shimbun September 10, 2002, The Daily Automotive News September 17,2002 )

 
9. Hydrogen Production, Supply and Storage Technology
(1) Nippon Oil Corporation
  Nippon Oil Corporation, as a contractor selected by Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry to execute gDemonstration Project of Hydrogen Supply System for FCVhwhich starts from 2002, gathers the data and defines the issues for the demonstration test, which will be started from 2004 in earliest case, related to the hydrogen supply station to be installed in their service station. The hydrogen supply station of Nippon Oil is naphtha reforming type, but the high procurement cost is pointed out, as each unit is order made and assembled with imported parts and hand made parts. Nippon Oil is now constructing hydrogen supply station at Asahi Ward, Yokohama City, and plans to establish high pressure hydrogen compression technology and gather the data regarding to energy conservation.
( The Chemical Daily September 4, 2002 )

(2) KOKAN Drum Co., Ltd.
  KOKAN Drum Co., Ltd., subsidiary of NKK, started development of high pressure hydrogen fuel tank for FCV and plans to market high performance tank in 2004, of which charge capacity is a double of conventional tank. It is the joint development with Dynetech, Canada, being partly invested the capital by NKK and the development target is the high pressure gas vessel made of FRP(Fiber Reinforced Plastics), which can withstand the pressure of 700 atm. Though the stress on surrounding fuel supply port is increased in case of high pressure, they plan to establish the technology to reinforce the part by seamless thin steel plate. Also they plan to market with the price of 400 or 500 thousands yen per one tank in 2010 and to bring up to 10 billion yen scale business.
( Nikkei Sangyo Shimbun September 11, 2002 )

(3) Toho Gas Co., Ltd.
  Toho Gas Co., Ltd. announced that the hydrogen station for FCV, now under the construction at the research and development center, will be completed by October 4. Utilizing town gas (natural gas) steam reformer which had been completed in February 2001 with the cost of 100 million yen, the station for FCV is arranged this time by installing such as compressor and charger with the cost of 100 million yen. Toho Gas states that, hydrogen production capacity is 40 Nm3/h, the pressure of high pressure hydrogen charger is 40 MPa, Gas storage capacity is 300 Nm3, hydrogen supply pressure is 25 ~ 35 MPa and hydrogen gas charging time for one FCV is about 3 minutes. Through demonstration test, superiority of town gas, safety for hydrogen supply technology, etc will be verified.
(Nippon Kogyo Shimbun, Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun, Chunichi Shimbun, September 18, 2002, Nikkei Sangyo Shimbun, September 19, 2002, Tekko Shimbun, The Chemical Daily September 20, 2002 )

 


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