THE LATEST FUEL CELL NEWS IN JAPAN, March 2003

Arranged by T. HOMMA
1. Government Policy and Activity
2. Development and Demonstration Test of MCFC
3. Development of SOFC
4. Development of PEFC and DMFC
5. PEFC systems for Home Use
6. Development of New Type FC
7. The Front of FCV
8. Hydrogen Related Technology and Supply System

1.Government Policy and Activity
(1) Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry
   METI announced on February 18 that they clarified their policy to accept all requests on special autonomous area, they will be in charge of, in a link of structural reform as governmental policy. Although one of the requests is the special autonomous area which any enterprise can supply electricity, even in a case who are not electric utility companies or PPS, and it is proposed from plural local government, METI intends to correspond this request within a frame of the current Electricity Enterprises Act. Deregulation for safety distance for hydrogen station regulated by High Pressure Gas Safety Act and also domestic fuel cell both can be solved by special autonomous area concept.
 ( Denki Shimbun February 19, 2003 )

(2) Ministry of the Environment
   MOE will revise ministerial ordinances on environment by reexamining frequency to measure air pollutants in fuel cell or boiler to be fueled town gas. MOE will deregulate frequency of measurements from once per 2 months or 1 or 2 times a year regulated by current ordinance to more than once for 5 years. Measurement of NOx will be more than once for 5 years, only for reformer of FC.
 ( The Chemical Daily February 26, 2003 )

 
2.Development and Demonstration Test of MCFC
   Chubu Electric Power Co., Inc. announced that 300 kW MCFC fabricated by Ishikawajima-Harima Heavy Industries Co., Ltd. (IHI) has been started the power generation operation in their Shin-Nagoya Thermal Power Station. Basic performance will be confirmed by natural gas fuel for the time being and will conduct power generation test by low calory fuel gas simulated waste gasification under cooperation with IHI from 2004. And gasifier itself for waste will be installed and demonstration test for power generation combined with the gasification will be conducted from 2004. Total budget is 1.2 billion yen for 3 years from 2002. Gasification capacity is 3.5 T/D in demonstration unit but the target scale of the gasifier to be commercialized in the near future is 50 ` 100 T/D and several 1000 kW class MCFC will be developed to meet the gasifier. Demonstration test using garbage will be also carried out in Aichi@International Exposition to be held in 2005.
 ( Chunichi Shimbun February 11, 2003, Denki Shimbun, Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun February 12, 2003, Nihon Kogyo Shimbun February 13, 2003 )
   Chubu Electric Power Co., Inc. held a power generation ceremony of MCFC on February 20 , installed at their Shin-Nagoya Thermal Power Station. Mr. Shimizu, Managing Director said that MCFC has feature to be able to combine various functions including environmentally friendly waste gasification, in his speech. And he indicated his will for early commercialization, by tackling the demonstration test with modesty attitude and raising it to the best.
 ( Denki Shimbun February 21, 2003,Kensetsu Tsushin Shimbun February 27, 2003 )

 
3.Development of SOFC
(1) Tokyo Gas Co., Ltd.
   Tokyo Gas has developed SOFC which can be started up within 3 ` 4 hours, less than one-third in comparison with start up time required for conventional SOFC. Ceramics are generally used not only for electrolyte but also electrodes, which might cause cracks due to thermal expansion, so components made of metal are expected. Adopting zirconia as base material for electrolyte, and nickel oxide and zirconia for anode and alloy based on ferrite for cathode, the company lowered operating temperature by 200 ` 300 from conventional 1000. Tokyo Gas plans to build 1 kW stack consisted of 80 fuel cells and start demonstration test in 2004. The ultimate goal of the company is to lower manufacturing cost down to 100,000 yen per kW for commercialization.
 ( Nikkei Sangyo Shimbun February 21, 2003 )

(2) Hosokawa Powder Engineering Research Institute
   Hosokawa Powder Engineering Research Institute (Hirakata City) has developed novel electrode for SOFC with operating temperature at 700, in cooperation with Joining and Welding Research Institute, Osaka University. The electrode is made of compound particles bonded between nickel oxide particles (500nm average diameter) and zirconia particles (100nm average diameter) by special technology owned by Hosokawa without using any binder. They conducted power generation test using the electrodes and confirmed superior performance on power density.
 ( Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun February 24, 2003 )

(3) Japan Fine Ceramics Center (JFCC)
   JFCC has developed nano-ceramics film which is used as SOFC cathode for high temperature operation, in cooperation with NGK SPARK PLUG CO., LTD. The cathode with special crystal structure is made, using high power and fine controlled EBEPVD(Electron Beam-Physical Vapor Deposition) facility owned by JFCC.
That is, Lanthanum-Strontium-Manganese-Oxide is formed as thin column shape crystal structure and more over each one has feather shape structure. Column shape crystal structure improves heat-resistant characteristics. Feather shape structure not only relaxes stress from thermal expansion differences but also restrains interface reactions which improves exfoliation-proof. So they said that both of life elongation and higher power generating efficiency are expected and also has merit to increase area for gas-ionization due to feather shape structure.
  ( Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun February 25, 2003 )

(4) Kyocera Corporation
   Yasuo Nishiguchi, President of Kyocera announced that the company has been developing 1kW SOFC for home use, providing all ceramic components by own technologies. The project team is under the direct control of the president and 20 ` 30 members have been working on the development of SOFC. The company accelerates to complete the test model by December 2003, and plans to commercialize it at the beginning of the 2005, after one year operation test although they are in a stage now to assemble a test module. The company has spent 500 million yen a year except personnel expenses, which might be expanded further depending on the situations from now and has intention to raise FC as new energy business. The company also aims to lower operating temperature and improve life time by using its own unique ceramics.
  ( Denki Shimbun February 28, 2003 )

(5) Sumitomo Corporation
   Sumitomo Corporation will put SOFC made by Acumentrics Corporation in USA on Japanese market. Introducing 2 kW SOFC firstly in April 2003, the company will conduct field tests as co-generation system meeting Japanese requirements, under cooperation with about 5 engineering companies on fuel business. Concerning fuel and function, multiple applications are taken into account, including utilization of bio-gas and methane fermentation and also grid-connected operation and UPS function. The company also plans to demonstrate 10kW SOFC in Japan, from summer 2003, and launch it into commercial sale at the price of about 1 million yen per kW from 2005, under cooperation with some companies.
  ( Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun February 28, 2003 )

 
4.Development of PEFC and DMFC
   Ube Industries, Ltd. Toagosei Co., Ltd. and Takeo Ymaguchi, associate professor of Tokyo University have jointly developed a stronger material for electrolyte membrane of PEFC. The team made the electrolyte membrane by making many fine holes on a chemical resistant resin film and filling some polymer into the small holes. Existing membranes cannot be used for long time because they swell by penetration and reduce power generation capability when methanol is introduced in the cell. Membranes made from new material are expected to overcome these problems. The team confirmed that generation capacity of the fuel cell made by new membranes has not been deteriorated for a five months test run. In addition, power density was 1 Watt/cm2 when hydrogen is directly fed as fuel. The fuel cell is also expected as DMFC for PDA. The two companies will start shipping samples in March 2003.
 ( Nihon Keizai Shimbun February 28, 2003 )

 
5. PEFC systems for Home Use
(1) Ebara Ballard
   Ebara Ballard announced that they will put their home use 1 kW PEFC systems, fueled city gas, to practical use in 2004. They will produce new prototype fuel cells for commercial use in 2003 and will deliver three of them to New Energy Foundation in February. They will produce more than ten units of fuel cells in 2004, and offer them for testing. Furthermore they also plan to produce commercial units and put 500 units on the market. From 2007, they prospect selling of 5,000 or 10,000 units and want to get the market share of 40%. The pre-commercial units which had already assembled have the dimensions of 90 cm in height, 90 cm in width, 28 cm in depth and have hot water storage tanks. Reformer have been manufactured under the technical license from Tokyo Gas Co., Ltd. They also intend to develop a fuel cell combined with a reformer for LPG and kerosene and these works will be done under the cooperation with Tokyo Gas and Osaka Gas who have reformer technologies.
  ( The Daily Automotive News February 1, 2003, Nikkei Sangyo Shimbun February 5, 2003, The Chemical Daily February 7, 2003 )

(2) Nippon Oil Corporation
   On-site demonstration test for home use PEFC system has been started by Nippon Oil Corporation, a developer, fueled LPG, at housing exhibition center in Yokohama Minato-Mirai 21 area (Inside model house of Mitsubishi Estate Co., Ltd. in Yokohama Home Collection) on February 4. The unit is box type for outdoor use and the dimensions are 1m in height, 90cm in width, 50cm in depth. The output of electricity is 1kW. The efficiency of electricity generation is 32% and the efficiency of heat recovery is 40%. The company has schedule to install 6 units by March including the mayorfs residence of Yokohama, furthermore they will install more 100 units on public housing and companyfs houses after April this year and verify their practicability. They intend to collect data on reliability and durability through these on-site demonstrations and feed the data back to their future units. They are aiming to put them on sale by 2005. The price is estimated at 500,000 yen per unit.
  ( Yomiuri Shimbun, Sankei Shimbun, Denki Shimbun, Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun, Kanagawa Shimbun, The Chemical Daily February 5, 2003, Nikkei Sangyo Shimbun February 7, 2003 )

(3) Air Water Inc.
   Air Water announced that they got the prospect for commercialization of home use fuel cells to be able to start up within 10 minutes by developing reformers for LPG and would go into the real experiments from April and aim to achieve the quick start up ability within 6 minutes as the final target. Presently they have been testing on a test module of hydrogen supply capability of 20 m3 per hour and confirmed the start up ability within 10 minutes at pre-testing. Adopting the special catalyst, consisted of 4 components; nickel, ceria, platinum and rhodium, the main parts of reformer could be down-sized to one hundredth of the existing ones, thus made reformer heat up possible in short time up to 900 , temperature required for the operation. They plan to commercialize home use FC with continuous operating capability for LPG fuel in 2005 and then put improved type of unit on the market, which will be applicable for on-off operation.
  ( Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun February 13, 2003 )

(4) Sanyo Electric Co., Ltd.
   Sanyo Electric strengthens its research and development forces and starts urgently concrete design work for commercial home use PEFC which are expected to put on sale in 2005. The commercial design will be conducted in the Research and Development Division for the time being. When mass production plan will be established, they will transfer the project to a new division which will be in charge of development, production and sales as real commercial goods. The division in charge has not decided yet. One of main subjects to be developed is durability and the life time should be extended over 40,000 hours from thousands hours at present. The major items to improve life are rotary machines such as pumps and fans and they intend to concentrate on improving their durability. As for the cost reduction, they are aiming to reduce the consumption of platinum on electrodes and the numbers of parts, which lead to the price less than 500,000 yen.
  ( Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun February 19, 2003 )

(5) NEF
   New Energy Foundation is opening verification system to public on February 28, about home use PEFC cogeneration system at the test site, for which the test has been started from year 2002. The system which will be open to public is 1kW system, installed it by Ebara Ballard in a company house of Kajima Technical Research Institute at Tobitakyu. NEF will open 3 more test sites for public relations one by one. NEF will install the 12 similar systems at individual houses and condominiums over the country as the project in financial year 2002 and is going to investigate the effects on PEFC for one year under the various atmospheric and operating conditions, such as usage of electricity and heat and parallel operation with grid. The details of the units are eleven 1 kW units and one 5 kW unit, manufactured by Toshiba, Ebara Ballard, Sanyo Electric, Toyota Motor Corporation, Nippon Oil Corp., Matsushita Electric, Industrial Co., Ltd. and fueled with natural gas, naphtha and LPG. They will install 30 more units at 6 different environmental conditions such as mountain area and high humid area and prepare for coming ages of the practical use from 2005.
  ( Nikkei Sangyo Shimbun, Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun February 24, 2003 )

 
6.Development of New Type FC
   The Central Research Institute for Electric Power Industries (CRIEPI) will begin the real development of intermediate temperature range fuel cell, which operable temperature range is 250~500 . They confirmed that the eutectic salt of potassium hydrogensulfate and sodium hydrogensulfate, adopted as electrolyte, is stable in the temperature range from 100 to 500 and has high proton conductivity of more than 0.1 S in wet oxidation and reduction conditions. This molten hydrogensulfate has been confirmed not to be active to the candidate structural materials for fuel cell, such as platinum, gold, carbon and aluminum, thus they have prospect to be able to assemble the intermediate temperature type FC with combination of these materials. They aim to tackle on the evaluation tests of power generation using the prototype fuel cell in 2003.
  ( The Chemical Daily February 28, 2003 )

 
7.The Front of FCV
(1) The Biggest 6 in Automotive Companies
   The 6 biggest companies of automotive industries in Japan, US, Europe and Republic of Korea announced to make cooperative development (Hydrogen 700 Project) for hydrogen storage technology to store hydrogen under 700 atms. The term is by January 2004. Participants are more than 20 including Toyota Motor Corporation, Nissan Motor Co., Inc., Daimler Chrysler, Ford Motor Company, Hyundai Motor Company and Peugeot Citroen Group and fuel tank fabricator and parts makers. Kokan Drum, subsidiary of NKK Corporation and Powertech Labs Inc., fuel vessel maker in Canada jointly manage this project. Power Tech will evaluate trial products made by parts makers and hand over the data to motor companies, sponsors of the project. The participants have intension to take initiative for international standards to be made by ISO (International Standard Organization ).
  ( Nihon Keizai Shimbun February 8, 2003, Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun February 12, 2003 )

(2) Daihatsu Motor Corporation
   Daihatsu has started running test of light FCV on public road in Kansai area on February 12, 2003 and Husae Ota, Osaka Prefectural Governor remarked her impressions through her riding on, uThe acceleration is smooth and it is calm and comfortable, therefore, she would like to study the introduction into the government office v. The FCV is 4 seats car, MOVE FCV-K-2 in hybrid with Ni-H2 battery and the maximum speed is 105 km/h and the driving range is 120 km per one hydrogen charge. The light vehicle of compact body results in limitation of driving performance, which is difficult to get enough space to load necessary equipments. They have an intention to put them on market from 2006.
  ( Yomiuri Shimbun, Sankei Shimbun February 12, 2003, Asahi Shimbun, The Daily Automotive News February 13, 2003 )

 
8.Hydrogen Related Technology and Supply System
(1) Air Water Inc.
   Sumitomo Air Water Inc., the joint venture company of Sumitomo Corporation and Air Water Inc. announced that they developed the mobile hydrogen supply station for FCV. Loading hydrogen charging equipments such as hydrogen vessel, compressor and charger on the deck of truck, hydrogen for 2 FCV (tank capacity of a FCV is about 30 cubic meter) can be supplied at high pressure. The price is about 60 million yen including the truck. TOYOTA MOTOR CORPORATION already purchased and NISSAN MOTOR CO., LTD decided to contract lease agreement for the stations. The company plans to promote sales to municipalities.
  ( The Daily Automotive News February 1, 2003, Yomiuri Shimbun, February 3, 2003, The Chemical Daily February 5, 2003 )

(2) Iwatani International Corporation
   Iwatani starts the cost reduction of hydrogen station. Contracting one FCV lease agreement with TOYOTA and starting in house operation from June 2003, Iwatani study the optimum combination of compressor, flow meter, etc from various suppliers and will propose low cost hydrogen station which can construct at 100 million yen, in comparison with 300 million yen of existing station.
  ( Nippon Keizai Shimbun February 1, 2003 )
   To support FCV popularization, Iwatani establishes the system which allows hydrogen supply easily by constructing hydrogen stations in the area of their Tokyo and Osaka head office and installing hydrogen cylinders. Also, Iwatani has completed the development of mobile hydrogen supply station to FCV, by loading integrated system consisted of hydrogen tank, compressor, etc on the lorry. Calling this mobile as gRadio Systemh and operating 2 or 3 sets in the metropolitan area, Iwatani plans to dispatch the mobile to consumers site and charge hydrogen.
  ( Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun, February 7, 2003 )

(3) Hokkaido University
   The research group of Professor Ichikawa and et al, Catalysis Chemistry Research Center of Hokkaido University, developed the technology which can easily store the hydrogen generated by water electrolysis. Although Professor Ichikawa had already developed organic hydride which is clear fluid formed by chemical reaction of hydrogen, and the newly developed technology is the process to generate electric power by direct reaction of sprayed hydride with oxygen, and also process to store hydrogen generated by water electrolysis as hydride formed again by the generated hydrogen. The process does not require the device to take out the hydrogen and can make system compact and replenishment of hydride is not required. The recycle system, generating hydrogen by water electrolysis powered by solar cell or wind power and storing the hydrogen in the form of hydride in day time and generating electricity by FC in night time, becomes feasible.
  ( Hokkaido Shimbun February 5, 2003 )

(4) Bio FC
   Research Institute of Innovative Technology for the Earth(RITE) and Sharp Corporation developed the basic technology of micro bio FC which generates electricity by feeding hydrogen generated from garbage by the bacteria. The equipment consists of bacteria culture vessel and FC. Making sugar solution by dissolving garbage and refining at the special facility and charging solution to the culture vessel, bacteria generates hydrogen from sugar feed. It is reported that sufficient power for liquid crystal TV can be supplied by the equipment equivalent size to match box and culture vessel size equivalent to 2 litters plastic bottle can supply the electric power demand for one home. The research group, improving bacteria in soil and increasing hydrogen generating efficiency up to the magnitude of some 100 orders, achieved the prospect of realization of micro bio FC. From now, improving bacteria life and starting demonstration test 2 years later from now, they plan to establish the technology within 4 ` 5 years.
  ( Nihon Keizai Shimbun February 13, 2003 )

(5) Saibu Gas Co., Ltd and Kyushu University
   Saibu Gas and Faculty of Engineering, Kyushu University announced that they enter into the comprehensive alliance on technology development for utilizing hydrogen and natural gas, including FC. The term is 5 years, starting from March 1, 2003 and ending at the end of February, 2008. Saibu Gas has the technology for natural gas reforming and Saibu Gas plans to realize hydrogen station for FCV utilizing this technology, jointly with Kyushu University, and also utilizing the fruit of material development by Kyushu University they plans to develop highly durable hydrogen storage bottle. The intern system to dispatch students in doctor course of the Faculty is also planed.
  ( Nikkei Sangyo Shimbun, Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun February 28, 2003 )

(6) Japan Electric Vehicle Association (JEVA)
   JEVA and Engineering Advancement Association of Japan start Japan Hydrogen & Fuel Cell Demonstration Project (JHFC) which operate FCV and multiple hydrogen supply stations at the same time. Hydrogen supply station reforming desulfurized gasoline and garage for 5 FCV will open at JHFC base site at COSMO OIL CO., LTD in Tsurumi-ku(ward), Yokohama City on March 12, 2003 and 5 more hydrogen supply stations will be installed in Tokyo, Yokohama and Kawasaki during 2003, that are liquefied hydrogen type (Koto-ku, Tokyo), LPG reforming type (Arakawa -ku), naphtha reforming type (Asahi-ku, Yokohama) and Methanol reforming type (Kawasaki City) and they will demonstrate operation and running tests combined these facilities with FCV. 14 companies or organizations including car manufacturers, oil companies and gas companies will participate in the project.
  ( Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun February 28, 2003 )


 

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