THE LATEST FUEL CELL NEWS IN JAPAN, February 2003

Arranged by T. HOMMA
1. Government Policy and Activity
2. Policy and Activity in Local Government and Public Organization
3. Development and Demonstration Test of MCFC
4. Development of SOFC
5. Development of Element Technology
6. Development and Verification Test on PEFC Cogeneration System for Home Use
7. Development and Commercialization of DMFC
8. The Front of FCV
9. Hydrogen Production Technology and the Facility
10. Production Technology of GTL for Fuel Cell
11. Market Development of Instruments for Fuel Cell

1.Government Policy and Activity
(1)Ministry of the Environment
   MOE decided to conduct technology development to produce hydrogen by electrolysis of sea water, making use of wind power station installed on the sea and also to take out hydrogen from waste such as garbage, wood and plastics from 2003.
  ( Sankei Shimbun January 14, 2003, Denpa Shimbun January 15, 2003 )

(2)Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry
   Regulations such as nitrogen purge necessary for DSS (Daily Start and Stop) operation and chief electric technician in charge permanently stationed even for small power plant, required by the current act, will be deregulated in 2005 toward commercialization of PEFC for domestic application. As installation of nitrogen tank to purge fuel treatment system has been required since commercialization of PAFC, data have been obtained by demonstration test in The Japan Gas Association, which nitrogen purge is not necessary. It has been verified that not only nitrogen but also steam or air are available for purge. On the other hand, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Ltd. established technology to avoid catalyst degradation without purge. Industries related to FC development have been requesting to mitigate regulation on installation of emergency power generation facility, to the same level for gas appliance.
  ( Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun January 23, 2003 )

(3)Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport
   MLIT will start development project of FC system under cooperation with Hokkaido University and Japan Steel Works from 2003, making use of bio mass energy generated from waste in stock breeding farm. They will establish process to generate methane gas from excrement and convert methane effectively into organic compound being liquid state at atmospheric temperature and to take out hydrogen from the compound at need. Effective fuel cycle will be established if fuel for FC can be stored at safe liquid state, because electric and heat demand largely change in Hokkaido, according to the season such as summer and winter. Annual excrement production is 20,000,000 ton in Hokkaido and electric power can be supplied for 180,000 home by the fuel without CO2 exhaust. MLIT is aiming at commercialization in 2005.
  ( Nihon Keizai Shimbun January 27, 2003 )

 
2.Policy and Activity in Local Government and Public Organization
   Tokyo Metropolitan Government will raise private companies who rent FC bus to the government without compensation. The purpose of this project is to operate FC bus on regular commercial route and to collect data concerning the operation and to promote public relations and campaign under cooperation with Environment Bureau, Transportation Bureau of the metropolitan government and private companies. Hydrogen station to be completed in March 2003 at Ariake, Koto-ku(ward) will be used for hydrogen supply. Toyota Motor Corporation and Hino Motors, Ltd. already applied as cooperation work.
  ( Nihon Kogyo Shimbun January 7, 2003, Yomiuri Shimbun January 17, 2003 )
   Tokyo Metropolitan Government announced on January 29, 2003 that they decided 2 companies, Toyota and Hino as participants for running test project of FC bus. Both companies are to operate FCHV-BUS2 modified for regular commercial route operation.
  ( Nihon Keizai Shimbun, Sankei Shimbun January 30, 2003, Nikkei Sangyo Shimbun January 31, 2003 )

 
3.Development and Demonstration Test of MCFC
(1)Ishikawajima-Harima Heavy Industries Co., Ltd. (IHI)
   IHI will start operations of two 300 kW pressurized MCFCs from January 2003, both final demonstration plant installed at Kawagoe Thermal Power Station of Chubu Electric Power Co., Inc. advanced as NEDO project and the first commercial plant received order from Toyota Motor Corporation. IHI has an intention to commercialize MCFC from 2004, reflecting verification test results at price of 500,000-600,000 \/kW. For Kawagoe plant to be fueled natural gas, they make efforts to attain net efficiency of 43 % under operation of 650 , 4 atm. For Toyota plant installed at Motomachi Environmental Center, to be combined with gas turbine, it will be operated soon at full load. Further, they announced that they received an order for Shin-Nagoya Thermal Power Station of Chubu Electric Power Co., Inc. and they aim at 300,000 \/kW in the second step.
  (Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun January 7, 2003, Kensetsu Tushin Shimbun January 8, 2003 )

 
4.Development of SOFC
(1) Toho Gas Co., Ltd.
   Toho Gas developed novel SOFC cell which has 1.5∼2 times higher power generation performance than ever, applying scandia- stabilized zirconia electrolyte.High power generation performance and also strength of the electrolyte were simultaneously achieved by adjusting the composition of scandium and zirconia and their particle size.The shape of the single cell is similar to CD with 12cm diameter and 0.1mm thickness. Toho Gas is going to start sales of single cell to electric manufacturers and others, by the end of fiscal year 2003.In the future, price target of single cell is about 1000 yen and Toho Gas is also planning to develop SOFC system in cooperate with electric or mechanical manufacturer.
  ( Nikkei Sangyo Shimbun January 15, 2003 )

(2) NKK Corporation
   NKK will introduce 5kW SOFC from its partner company, Fuel Cell Technologies Ltd. (FCT) in Canada at the end of February, and demonstrate grid-connected operation from March, 2003.Shipment of the pre-commercial phase products will start in 2004. NKK will purchase one of the first 5 prototype units FCT assembles, and will install it at their Research Institute in Yokohama. The unit will be operated by town gas, without reformer. Expected net power generation efficiency is higher than 40%. FCT will fabricate 20 pre-commercial products in 2003. NKK is to purchase one of the units, and to demonstrate the operation by LPG and biogas fuel in 2004.
   On the other hand, NKK is planning to purchase 250kW prototype SOFC fabricated by Siemens- Westinghouse Power Corporation (SWPC) in 2005, and to launch out sales in 2006. SWPC has now 2000kW test facilities in their Research Institute in Pittsburgh, where a new factory will be established here by 2003, and mass-production of 1.5 m length tubular SOFC cells will be on the rail from 2004. NKK commercialize SOFC products by designing all auxiliary components including inverter and integrating them into the system based on its own technologies, except fuel cell from SWPC. Target price is \600,000/kW for both 5kW and 250kW products.
  ( Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun January 21, 2003, Nikkei Sangyo Shimbun January 30, 2003 )

 
5. Development of Elemental Technology
(1) Unitika, Ltd.
   Unitika has an intention to enter full scale business in PEFC separator made of special phenol resin which can be injection-molded, and it is a glassy carbon product made by carbonizing after mixing filler into the special phenol resin. It is superior to conventional graphite product in electric conductivity, gas-tightness and corrosion resistance.
The separator has advantageous for cost down, because injection-molding is highly suited for mass-production. Unitika installed a facility which can produce 100,000 separators per year in Uji-factory and started pre-commercial sale.
  ( The Chemical Daily January 8, 2003 )

(2) Nagoya Institute of Technology
   Professor Masayuki Nogami et al. of Nagoya Institute of Technology developed Phosphoric Silicate Glass Membrane with high proton conductivity made by Sol-Gel Process. Surface specific resistance of the membrane was less than a half of Nafionfs, and indicated about 0.2 Ω/cm2 at 50 . I/V characteristics were measured and confirmed the membrane is applicable as fuel cell electrolyte. It is expected to apply to micro fuel cell as practical use.
  (Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun January 13, 2003 )

(3) Tohoku University
   Professor Akihisa Inoue and his research team of Institute of Material Research in Tohoku University succeeded to develop novel super anticorrosion metallic material. It is a nickel base alloy mixed with three metallic materials including niobium, and has characteristics of easy-to-processing because it is hard-to-crystallization. It is reported that the corrosion resistance for hydrochloric acid is 1000 times and the strength is about 7 times in comparison with stainless steel. It can be also formed to thin plate. By applying this alloy for FC separator, remarkable cost down will be expected.
  ( Asahi Shimbun January 14, 2003 )

(4) Osaka Municipal Technical Research Institute (OMTRI) and Sansho Kako Ltd.
   OMTRI announced on January 15 that OMTRI under cooperation with Sansho Kako developed novel manufacturing technology for separator made of benzo-oxazin phenol resin, which can make cost down by one several tenth than conventional product. The phenol resin is a thermosetting resin developed by OMTRI and blended by electric conductive powder such as carbon to form separator. Highly precise manufacturing and mass-production is possible by applying compression forming and/or transfer forming, being used metallic molds. Manufacturing time is about 10 minutes per cell. Sansho Kako is going to sell the separator as sample shipment, and has a plan to launch mass-production of A4 size separator from autumn this year.
  (Asahi Shimbun, Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun January 16, 2003, Nihon Keizai Shimbun January 17, 2003 )

(5) National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST)
   Under collaboration with the New Glass Forum (NGF) and Himeji Institute of Technology, AIST developed membrane with novel proton conductivity that can be used at higher than 100 . The new membrane is 0.5mm thick porous glass with nano level porosity (0.4nm diameter) in which conductive organic molecules are introduced, so the steam and organic solvents do not cause swelling of the membrane.
  ( Nihon Keizai Shimbun, Nikkei Sangyo Shimbun January 24, 2003, Nihon Kogyo Shimbun January 28, 2003 )

(6) UBE INDUSTRIES, LTD.
   UBE INDUSTRIES developed porous carbon membrane with nano porosity by carbonizing polyimide porous membrane at high temperature, 2800 , which has superior electric conductivity, corrosion resistance and flexibility. The membrane is expected to apply for PEFC electrode because porosity distribution is continuous from 10nm to 1m which is suitable to pass oxygen and water.
  ( Nikkei Sangyo Shimbun January 27, 2003 )

 
6.Development and Verification Test on PEFC Corgeneration System for Home Use
(1) MHI
   Hiroshima Research and Development Center and Hiroshima Machinery Works of Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Ltd. announced on January 8, 2003 that they have begun to ship samples of home use 1 kW PEFC, to be fueled city gas (natural gas), in order to evaluate and test their practicability. They shipped two units, one in December, 2002 and another one in January, 2003, to evaluation organizations in Osaka and Tokyo. And both organizations established by energy related parties will verify the unitsf performance under various weather conditions such as high temperature, high humidity and rain storm. They will ship 10 units in 2003 all over the nation including Hiroshima area, and aim to improve their power generation efficiency and size reduction, then will put them on the market in 2005. The target price at the beginning of sales is less than 500,000 yen per unit.
  (Nikkei Sangyo Shimbun, Denki Shimbun, Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun January 9, 2003 )

(2) Nippon Oil Corporation
   Nippon Oil Corporation will begin the monitor test on home use 1kW PEFC, fueled LPG, from the end of January, 2003. The unit had been announced that the dimensions were 1m height, 0.9m width, 0.5m depth and the electrical efficiency was 32 %, total system efficiency was 72 % including heat recovery. They will rent the units to Yokohama city, Niigata prefecture, Shizuoka prefecture, Tokyu Construction Co., Ltd., Mitsubishi Estate Co., Ltd. and so on. These units will be installed on more than 100 places such as public rent houses and companyfs houses. They will monitor the operating conditions at the monitoring center in Yokohama Refinery and deal with troubles 24 hours. They aim to sell out the units at the price of less then 500,000 yen per unit in 2005 at the latest, improving the units through these demonstration tests on actual conditions.
  ( Yomiuri Shimbun, Asahi Shimbun, Mainichi Shimbun, Nihon Keizai Shimbun January 9, 2003 )

(3) Tokyo Gas Co., Ltd.
   Tokyo Gas announced that they had succeeded in big improvement on the performance of fuel treatment system for home use PEFC. The new type reformer attained high reforming efficiency of 76% at low output of 0.3 kW for the rated output of 1kW. They achieved to make reformers a half weight by simplified their internal structure in comparison with the existing one and expect that these achievements leads to the cost reduction of home use cogeneration systems in the future.
  ( Nippon Kogyo Shimbun, Denki Shimbun January 31, 2003 )

(4) Ebara Corporation and Tokyo Gas Co., Ltd.
   Ebara and Tokyo Gas announced on January 30, 2003 that they have successfully developed home use PEFC cogeneration system fueled city gas. Total energy efficiency of the unit had been improved to 92 % and reduced about 17 % in volume, compared with pilot unit. They aim to put them in commercial use in 2004.
  ( Nihon Keizai Shimbun, Nikkei Sangyo Shimbun, Nippon Kogyo Shimbun January 31, 2003 )

 
7.Development and Commercialization of DMFC
   Yuasa Corporation plans to put the portable type DMFC hYFC-100h on sale from the middle of March, 2003. The maximum output is 100W and the dimensions are 35cm width, 38cm depth, 42cm height and the weight is 25kg. The units can produce electricity for 8 hours with 2 liters of low density methanol solution. The price is estimated at 1 million yen per unit.
  ( Nihon Keizai Shimbun January 7, 2003 )

 
8.The Front of FCV
(1) Leasing of FCV
   Some private companies are to be leased FCVs which Toyota and Honda have begun leasing. Toyotafs gFCHVh will be leased to Tokyo Electric Power Company, Nippon Oil Corporation, Toho Gas Co., Ltd. and Iwatani International Corporation and Hondafs gFCXh will be leased to Iwatani International Corporation in June this year. On the other hand, among the local governments Aichi-ken plans to introduce FCHV.
  ( Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun January 1, 2003)

(2) Daihatsu
   Daihatsu Motor Corporation (Ikeda city) announced on January 12, 2003 that they will start the driving test on fuel cell loaded light vehicle from January. The FCV based on the body of the light car gMoveh, loaded Toyotafs PEFC system, is applied unique designs to equip with the fuel cell in the narrow space of the light car.
  ( Mainichi Shimbun January 13, 2003 )
   Daihatsu Motor Corporation announced on January 15 that they got the authorization from the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport, regarding driving on the public roads for their two light FC vehicles (FCV-K-2). They will begin driving test on public road from January and collect the data required for commercialization. The fuel is hydrogen gas at 250 atm. and its maximum speed is 105 km/h. Its cruising distance is 120 km on one filling of hydrogen. They utilized Toyotafs technologies of hybrid systems; recovering generating energy when to brake and loading the nickel metal hydride batteries for auxiliary power supply and also combined the motor with CVT (non-step transmission).
  ( Asahi Shimbun, Nihon Keizai Shimbun, Mainichi Shimbun, Yomiuri Shimbun January 16, 2003 )

(3) China
   According to Hsinhau News Agency, FCV gChouetsu-1h developed in China had been carried out test drive in campus of Shanghai Economic University in Shanghai. FCV development in China has been performed under the cooperation of more than ten organizations including Searchina Co., Ltd., Shanghai Economic University, enterprises and research institutes since one year ago and they aim to put them on practical use in Beijing Olympic Games to be held in 2008 and Shanghai International Exposition to be held in 2010.
  ( Sankei Shimbun January 14, 2003 )

(4) Toyota, Nissan, Daimler-Chrysler and others
   About 20 major car manufacturers such as Toyota Motor Corporation, Nissan Motor Co., Ltd., Daimler-Chrysler AG and others are going to jointly develop the technologies for expanding the cruising distance of FCV up to 500km. They intend to develop the technology to store hydrogen gas in a tank at 700 atm., resulting in hydrogen storage capacity 40% more.
  ( Nihon Keizai Shimbun January 13, 2003 )

 
9.Hygrogen Production Technology and the Facility
(1) Nippon Sanso Corporation
   Nippon Sanso developed movable equipment to charge hydrogen for FCV and installed it in the courtyard of Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) and started demonstration and verification test for hydrogen supply, sponsored by the Government. This equipment has capability to fill the hydrogen tanks of 10 FCV and the charge speed into tank is about five minutes per car. This equipment can be moved by a large truck and installed on the ground with about 30 minutes work and expected to contribute the spread of FCV because of the high mobility and one-tenth price in comparison with stationary hydrogen station. The hydrogen tank has capacity of 300 m3 and is carried to the destination by a large truck, being filled with hydrogen produced at the ironworks or others. The price is approximately 20 million yen.
  ( Nikkei Sangyo Shimbun January 6, 2003 )

(2) National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST)
   AIST developed the technology to separate hydrogen efficiently by using palladium thin membrane. The technology is applied to the equipment which extracts hydrogen from hydrogen storage substances as carrying media at the hydrogen supply station. The equipment has a shape of double cylinder consisted of tiny pipe made by thin palladium membrane of 1 micron meter which is put in a cylindrical vessel. When cyclohexane and catalyst are poured into outside of the tiny palladium pipe, reaction occur to destruct it into hydrogen and benzene. As only hydrogen can permeate palladium membrane, inside of the palladium pipe is only hydrogen as the result. Reducing the pressure of the inside pipe, the recovery rate of hydrogen reached to 90 %.
  ( Nikkei Sangyo Shimbun January 8, 2003 )

(3) Mitsui Engineering and Shipbuilding Co., Ltd.
   Mitsui developed technology which can reduce hydrogen sulfide concentration to less 1/5000 in methane(digester gas) produced in the biogas plant for cattle excreta in comparison with current technology level. Making use of microbe called as sulfur oxidation bacteria which can oxidize sulfur of hydrogen sulfide into sulfuric acid ammonium, they confirmed that the present sulfur concentration of 50 ppm was reduced to approximately 10 ppb by this new process through test adding this process at the end of present desulfurization process. In case gas is treated by the above configuration in parallel, it is reported that hydrogen sulfide and other sulfur compound concentration can be reduced several ppb order by adding one more desulfurizer having higher efficincy.
  ( Nihon Kogyo Shimbun January 14,2003 )

(4) SUMISYO AIR WATER INC.
   SUMISYO AIR WATER INC. developed a movable hydrogen station to charge hydrogen for FCV. The station loaded on truck has ultra high pressure vessel and dispenser integrated as a system. Now, though it is possible that charge hydrogen at 400 atmospheric pressure for FCV, also they developed a system with compressor which could pressurize hydrogen supplied from transport car for low pressure industrial gas. They plan to develop a hydrogen station to be able to charge at 700 atmospheric pressures within a year. They contracted to ship it to Toyota Motor Corporation at the price of 50∼ 60 million yen and to NISSAN MOTOR CO.,LTD by rental. Weekly rental rate of the system with compressor is 2 million yen.
  ( Asahi Shimbun, Mainichi Shimbun, Nihon Keizai Shimbun, Nihon Kogyo Shimbun, Tokyo Shimbun January 31, 2003 )

 
10.Production Technology of GTL for Fuel Cell
   Nippon Oil Corporation started to develop technology to produce clean fuel oil equivalent to GTL from crude oil, in parallel with technology to produce GTL from natural gas. GTL can be now produced by the resent technology, but there are several problems from view point of the cost. Today, GTL has not a competitive price as compared with conventional fuel oil produced from crude oil, but has a good point environmentally not to contain sulfur. Therefore, GTL is expected to be applied for heat source, transportation fuel and fuel cell.
  ( Nihon Kogyo Shimbun January 15, 2003 )

 
11.Market Development of Instruments for Fuel Cell
   The research group of Professor Masatoshi Osawa, Hokkaido University developed a inspection equipment to measure catalytic reaction in detail in a short time. The method is to analyze the phenomena occurred on the surface of platinum electrode when to react with a solution on the electrode by using infrared ray and it can be analyzed within 1/10000 second. The concrete method is to put a solution to be analyzed into the unit and to analyze the change of molecular adhered on surface of platinum catalyst membrane by infrared ray, when a solution is reacted with platinum catalyst membrane. We can examine what kind of reactions occur on the surface of platinum membrane by analyzing reflected wave length distribution of infrared ray from the membrane, because absorbed wave length of infrared is different, depending on molecule species on the membrane. Professor Osawa and his research group already succeeded to examine reaction process occurred on electrode of DMFC by using the above sensor and this method is expected to be useful for development of fuel cell.
  ( Nikkei Sangyo Shimbun January 28, 2003 )

 

-This edition is made up as of January, 2003.-