THE LATEST FUEL CELL NEWS IN JAPAN, April 2003

Arranged by T. HOMMA
1. Government Policy and Activity
2. Development and Demonstration Test of MCFC
3. Development of SOFC
4. Technology Development on PEFC
5. Development of New Type FC
6. Home Use PEFC System 
7. The Front of FCV
8. Hydrogen Related Technology and Supply System
9. Development of Ultra Micro FC for Mobile PDA
10. FC Related Instrument Development

1.Government Policy and Activity
  For deregulation related to hydrogen energy, NEDO entrusted three verification projects to three parties separately, including demonstration tests on three items; FCV, stationary FC, hydrogen infrastructure and intends to realize the deregulations after 2005. Japan Automobile Research Institute is in charge of FCV, The Japan Gas Association is in charge of stationary FC and Petroleum Energy Center is in charge of hydrogen infrastructure. Research subjects to study deregulation now are 16 for hydrogen station and FCV and 5 for stationary FC.
( Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun March 13, 2003 )

 
2.Development and Demonstration Test of MCFC
(1) MCFC Research Association
  A small size MCFC power plant which output is 300kW class and the operating pressure is 4 atm, for demonstration of pressurized combined system, installed in Kawagoe Thermal Power Station of Chubu Electric Power Co., Inc. as NEDO Project, has been restarted the operation from March 2003, which had been stopped operation due to trouble of peripheral equipment. Target of the plant is to demonstrate operation more than 10,000 hours. Detail design of another demonstration plant has been completed, which is the final target of the national project using 750kW class module to be operated at pressure of 12atm, and the construction has been started in the same site. The plant operation will be started from 2004 and then final evaluation will be performed. After these activities, the MCFC development under the national project which started in 1981 will be completed, and will be shifted to private company.
  Higher power efficiency can be attained under pressurized operation, than atmospheric. However, the problem under pressurized operation is higher Ni dissolution from electrode into electrolyte, which causes shortening of life time. NEDO has decreased Ni deposition by improving electrode and adding third material and could predict life time of 40,000 hours until occurrence of short circuit due to Ni deposition. NEDO also estimated that net power efficiency of 50% can be attained, in case of 7MW class combined cycle plant to be used the above mentioned module and conventional gas turbine.
( The Chemical Daily March 5, 2003 )

(2) Fuel Cell Energy Inc.(FCE)
  250kW MCFC of FCE Inc. in USA which Marubeni Corporation has sales right in Japan, had been accepted as zero-emission device in air pollution by Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry. It also got permission to operate the plant only by patrolling at need, not by being permanently stationed, by authorized electric technician. They have been enforcing sales activity for the MCFC with price of 600,000 yen/kW and expecting the 1/3 will be supported by subsidy from 2003. They also intend to raise new market without a subsidy in 2005, by reducing the cost and proceeding with domestic production in auxiliary equipments and packaging of the system, under cooperation with IHI as a leading partner. FCE Inc. has arranged products of 1000kW and the 2000kW class based on 250kW MCFC.
( Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun March 14, 2003 )

 
3.Development of SOFC
(1) NTT
  NTT has made the development of SOFC in order to reduce carbon dioxide emissions, as total NTT group. NTT plans to realize 200kW class SOFC and the test manufacturing in 2004, and the practical use in 2007. Electric power consumption by major 7 companies in NTT group now accounts for 0.75% of the national electric power consumption, and energy consumption by the group is growing rapidly by spread of information technology and amount of CO2 emission is estimated to be 3 times in 2010 in comparison with the level of 1990. NTT estimates that power-related CO2 emission can be reduced by 10%, only by introducing SOFC system.
( Nikkei Sangyo Shimbun March 3, 2003 )

(2) Mitsubishi Material Corporation (MMC)
  MMC realized power output of 0.2W/cm2 at operating temperature of 800 by 1kW-class low temperature type SOFC, which surpassed the companyfs own target output by 50%. MMC developed low temperature operation SOFC in cooperation with the Kansai Electric Power Co., Inc., Oita University, the Japan Fine Ceramics Center and the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology.
  The electrode which is a kind of lanthanum gallate developed by Oita University and composed of magnesium and lanthanum and so on, has high electric conductivity. The next goal is to develop a middle size unit of 3 ` 5kW class in 2003, and aims to release a commercial model SOFC in fiscal year 2005, after completion of large scale test.
( Nikkei Sangyo Shimbun March 11, 2003 )

 
4.Technology Development on PEFC
  Ebara Ballard is going to put 1.2kW hydrogen fueled PEFC on the market in Japan at low price of 1 million yen. This price is for OEM, which does not include incidental equipments but the price of 1 million yen surely affects the price makings of FC which will be sold out thereafter. On the other hand, the firm put pure hydrogen fueled PEFC gNexah on sale, as its life time is 1500 hrs., from 2003 with the price of 2.5 million yen which is mass production and portable type, to be packaged with incidental equipments and plans to sell 20 units by March. The firm sets OEM sales that users can assemble FC modules into the systems and aims to sell units in a lot of dozens or hundreds.
( Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun March 6, 2003 )

 
5. Development of New Type FC
  Nogami Masayuki, Professor and Lee Kaihin, researcher of Nagoya Institute of Technology announced that they had succeeded experimental power generation with FC applying a thin glass layer of 0.5m as electrolyte. The thin glass layer had been made from phosphorus and silicon oxide and made electrode by painting platinum of catalyst on the surface of the layer. Blowing hydrogen and oxygen on the surface of the layer, the maximum 0.1mV of electromotive force had been observed. There are many micro holes, 0.002m in size, on the glass layer and hydrogen ions go through these holes and reach from anode to cathode. The major merit is the point that it does not require water management. Operating temperature is 0~8 and the durability is more than several thousands hours. Moreover, it is reported that it can be used in the temperature of -30~200. Professor Nogami said gWe will improve the electrode and other parts and then aim to commercialize it as application for cell phones.h
( Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun, Chunichi Shimbun March 5, 2003,Denki Shimbun, Nihon Kogyo Shimbun March 6, 2003 )

 
6. Home Use PEFC System
(1) NEF
  New Energy Foundation has been promoting verification tests on home use PEFC cogeneration systems at 13 sites over the country and they would make 4 test sites publicly open. One of the test sites at Kajima Technical Research Institute in Chofu has been opened to public on February 28 and opening ceremony and demonstration were carried out under concerned attendants. PEFC for these verification tests have been supplied by 6 manufacturers, Ebara Corporation, Sanyo Electric Co., Ltd., Nippon Oil Corporation, Toshiba IFC, Toyota Motor Corporation and Matsushita Electric Industrial Co., Ltd. 3 kinds of fuels will be used and each FC will be operated under the different circumstances and the data will be collected.
( Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun, Nihon Kogyo Shimbun, The Chemical Daily March 3, 2003 )

(2) Tokyo Gas Co., Ltd.
  Tokyo Gas has developed a home use cogeneration system which predicts the demand on hot water and supply energy efficiently. This own developed software can supply electricity and hot water with required quantity whenever required and can greatly increase energy efficiency with combination of PEFC. They planned to put it in practical use in a few years.
( Nikkei Sangyo Shimbun March 6, 2003 )

(3) Nippon Steel Chemical Co., Ltd.
  Nippon Steel Chemical has decided to develop and produce separator for PEFC and negative electrode material for lithium ion battery, utilizing the production technologies on various carbon products, such as coal tar distillation, coking and graphite production. As for the former, they will set the development target for stationary PEFC which might be commercialized in 2005. They applied epoxy resin as a binder and it results in less water solubility compared with existing phenol and then the product has good characteristic in long term stability.
( The Chemical Daily March 25, 2003 )

(4) Iwatani International Corporation
  Iwatani International will start the automatic operation tests on propane gas (LPG) reformer for home use 1 kW PEFC system and continue the verification test on its performance until July. As it consists of thin permeable membrane instead of selective oxidation for carbon monoxide, its size becomes smaller than the existing one and moreover hydrogen production efficiency is getting higher (hydrogen concentration is 75%) because of low temperature reaction at 600. It adopts the automatic control system for reforming process, controlled by operation information of FC.
( Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun March 25, 2003, The Chemical Daily March 28, 2003 )

 
7.The Front of FCV
(1) Nissan
  Nissan Motors Co., Ltd. under the cooperation with UTCFC of UT group, USA will develop FC stack for FCV and aims the early commercialization. First, they will load PEFC made by UTCFC on FCV which will be put on sale in 2003 and then exchange engineers each other and aim to develop more practical FC. The firm intends to produce FCV by themselves in the future. Nissan FCV which has been participated on the public road demonstration, loaded FC made by Ballard Power Systems Inc. but they could not get the know-how on FC because Ballard does not open the data on the stack. On the other hand, Nissan has a plan to develop FCV under cooperation with Renault in France, investing 85 billion yen for the development of FCV in 5 years.
( Nihon Keizai Shimbun March 4, 2003 )

(2) NKK Corporation, Tokyo Seiden Corporation
  NKK and Tokyo Seiden have developed jointly super-SR-inductor which is efficient voltage transformer for hybrid FCV. Tokyo Seiden manufactured it under supply of parts from NKK. It had decided that the super-SR-inductor is to be applied to gMOVE FCV-K-2h, light hybrid FCV already developed jointly by Daihatsu Motor Corporation and Toyota Motor Corporation. This will be installed between FC and secondary battery which is different in voltage, to equalize the voltage and circulate electric energy. It is said that this reduces heat generation by 50% and noise by 60% and the size is reduced to a half by improving function on heat radiation and water proof through integration of cooling medium.
( Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun, Tekko Shimbun, The Chemical Daily March 5, 2003 )

(3) General Motors Corporation
  GM announced on March 10, 2003 that they have got an approval for gHydrogen 3h, FCV by liquefied hydrogen, from Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport and will participate gdemonstration project for hydrogen and FCh from March 12 and start public road test in Japan. They intend to attain cruising range of 400 km in the public road test. Storage capacity of liquefied hydrogen is 4.6 kg and the maximum speed is 160 km/h. GM have been carried out public road tests in the US and Europe. GM has a plan to lease a Hydrogen 3 from June this year to Federal Express Corporation and FEDEX use it as carrier for collection and delivery in metropolitan area and they collect data to be used under various environments.
( Yomiuri Shimbun, Nikkei Sangyo Shimbun, Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun, The Daily Automotive News March 11, 2003 )

(4) Daimler Chrysler Japan Holding, Ltd.
  DC announced on March 11, 2003 that they have got an approval for gF-Cellh, the newest model of FCV from MLIT and participate gdemonstration project for hydrogen and FCh and start public road test in Japan. The F-Cell is 8th generation from the first model developed in 1994 and the base is A class of Mercedes Benz and compressed hydrogen is adopted. The maximum speed is 150 km/h and cruising range is 150 km. They have a plan to fabricate 60 F-Cell in 2003 and deliver them to US, Germany and Singapore. 10 F-Cell in the maximum case will be leased in Japan from the latter half of 2003 to general enterprises but the leasing price is not yet decided.
( Asahi Shimbun, Yomiuri Shimbun, Nihon Keizai Shimbun, Nikkei Sangyo Shimbun, The Daily Automotive News March 12, 2003 )

(5) Toho Gas Co., Ltd.
  Toho Gas announced on March 13, 2003 that they clarified a policy to adopt FCV made by Toyota through lease. The FCV will be delivered in May. Toho Gas has installed hydrogen station by reforming natural gas, in October 2002 at their Central Research Institute and they intend to proceed with technology development for hydrogen supply facility, expecting diffusion of FCV in the future.
( Chunichi Shimbun March 14, 2003 )

 
8.Hydrogen Related Technology and Supply System
(1) Petroleum Energy Center
  PEC announced on March 4, 2003 that they have developed efficient steam reforming technology for kerosene and partial oxidation reforming technology which can start up within 2-3 minutes. They succeeded the efficient reforming by development of catalyst to reform kerosene and desulfurize from kerosene although it has been said that kerosene is difficult to reform because kerosene is difficult to decompose and contains much of sulfur. They want to contribute for domestic use cogeneration system through the improvements for size reduction, life elongation, higher efficiency and short start up of 1 minute.
( Nikkei Sangyo Shimbun, Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun March 5, 2003, The Chemical Daily March 7, 2003 )

(2) Iwatani International Corporation
  Iwatani intends to develop new model for small transportable hydrogen filling facility for FCV and start sales activity all over the nation. The new facility has a capacity to supply 60m3 hydrogen which can fill hydrogen for 2 FCV even though the weight is 1 ton, a half in comparison with conventional type, bundle of hydrogen cylinder. They intend to install the hydrogen filling facility at major 8 factories of Iwatani Industrial Gases Corp. and arrange their service system to be used in FCV events by local governments or automotive companies.
( Nihon Kogyo Shimbun March 6, 2003 )

(3) Hydrogen Station
  Opening ceremony for hydrogen station was held on March 12, which will be used by 5 automotive companies during running test of FCV in a link of JHFC (Demonstration for Hydrogen and FC) project, constructed by Cosmo Oil Co., Ltd. at Daikoku-cho, Tsurumi-ku, Yokohama city. Desulfurized gasoline is used as feed stock to be reformed.
( Nihon Keizai Shimbun, Nihon Kogyo Shimbun, Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun, Chunichi Shimbun, The Chemical Daily March 13, 2003 )

(4) H2 Japan Inc.
  H2 Japan, subsidiary of Densei Inc. has developed hydrogen generation system under cooperation with School of Allied Health Sciences, Kitasato University, which uses bacterium extracted from termite and generate hydrogen from garbage. Although hydrogen can be obtained by mixing bacterium and garbage and fermenting it, the bacterium extracted from white ant is faster in hydrogen generation than the other and production volume is also bigger. This system can shorten time for hydrogen production to 1/20 in comparison with conventional method which ferments garbage and generates methane and then produces hydrogen from the methane. The initial investment can be about 1/3 because the fermentation reactor is small and reformer is not necessary to get hydrogen from methane. They have a plan to construct power generation plant combined this and FC in 2003.
( Hokkaido Shimbun March 18, 2003 )

(5) Tohoku University
  Hitoshi Takamura, Assistant Professor of Tohoku University, developed new membrane which can yield oxygen effectively from air. The developed oxygen permeable ceramic membrane is a compound of spinel type iron oxide having electron transmissibility and cerium oxide having high oxygen ion conductivity. And this makes the compound possible to be mixed in fine particle state of 0.1 m level by putting both molecules into resign and making coagulation. Therefore, this membrane has a characteristics to transmit both oxygen ion and electron. Utilizing this membrane, hydrogen an be generated by partial oxidation reforming process which the oxygen reacts with methane contained in town gas. The oxygen permeable capability per 1 cm2 is 13 milliliter per 10 minutes at 1000 , and it is expected to be able to make a reformer to supply hydrogen for 1 kW FC by 3 pieces of 10 cm square membrane of 0.3 mm thickness. Assistant Professor said that start up time of the FC system can be reduced to 1/3 as it is partial oxidation reforming.
( Nikkei Sangyo Shimbun, Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun March 24, 2003 )

(6) Osaka Gas Co., Ltd
  Osaka Gas has developed hydrogen production unit by natural gas reforming of which the cost and the foot print are a half of conventional unit, and will put it on market from April, 2003. It consists of a reforming system which generates 75 % concentration hydrogen and a clean up system which concentrates the 75% hydrogen up to more than 99.999 %, and Osaka Gas could realize a compact unit by integrating and packaging both systems into one unit. The price of 30 m3/h hydrogen production unit is about 40 million yen (the foot print is 5.8 m2), and the marketing target is FCV hydrogen station for the time being, also they plan to market it to optical fiber manufacturer for on-site hydrogen production system at the same time. Providing common parts to 100 m3/h unit to be marketed from April 2004 and 300 m3/h unit to be marketed from March 2005, contributes to cost reduction. Hydrogen production cost of 30 m3/h unit is a little over 50 yen/m3, but 45 yen and 35 yen /m3 are estimated for 100 and 300 m3/h unit respectively.
( Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun March 28, 2003 )

 
9.Development of Ultra Micro FC for Mobile PDA
(1) TOSHIBA CORPORATION
  TOSHIBA announced on March 5 that they developed DMFC for note type personal computer. The maximum out up is 20 W and average is 12 W, and 5 hours electricity generation is possible by 50 milliliter fuel. Although fuel to supply to DMFC is methanol water solution diluted to 3 ~ 6 %, TOSHIBA adopted a concentrated methanol storage method and developed a control system to optimize the methanol concentration utilizing a part of DMFC exhaust water as bigger fuel tank (cartridge) is required if it storages diluted solution. As the results, fuel tank size is reduced to 1/10. The software and connector of the note type personal computer applied this time is so designed to send signal of demand condition to DMFC, and electricity generation can be controlled depending on the demand condition. Disconnecting DMFC, lithium ion battery can be used. Methanol will be sold at personal computer specialty store for the time being, but they intend to sell it at convenience store and kiosk according to the diffusion. It will be commercialized in 2004.
( Yomiuri Shimbun, Asahi Shimbun, Mainichi Shimbun, Nihon Keizai Shimbun, Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun March 6, 2003 )

(2) Electric Machinery Companies
  NEC Corporation, TOSHIBA CORPORATION, Hitachi Ltd. etc, start to unify standards on ultra micro FC for PDA such as note type personal computer and mobile phone. They plan to secure the safety for utilizing hazardous material such as methanol by unifying standard, and to be able to apply micro FC to any PDA. In concrete terms, a preparatory committee which is established for standardization by The Japan Electrical Manufacturersf Association, Japan Electrics and Information Technology Industries Association, BATTERY ASSOCIATION OF JAPAN, etc, makes domestic standards with unification of standard, aiming at international standard. Installation method and size of FC will be different according to each product such as personal computer and mobile phone. The formal meeting with Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry will start from April 2003, and the work will conclude in detail within 2003. The results will be reflected to the products. CASIO Computer Co., Ltd., Canon Inc., Sanyo Electric Co., Ltd., Sharp Corporation, SONY Corporation, Fujitsu Limited, Matsushita Electric Industrial Co., Ltd., MITSUBISHI ELECTRIC CORPORATION, etc will participate.
( Nihon Keizai Shimbun March 21, 2003 )

(3) Hitachi, Ltd.
  Hitachi intends to commercialize micro FC for personal computer by 2005. Hitachi succeeded to develop hydrocarbon membrane of which methanol permeability is 1/10 in comparison with conventional hydrogen fluoride membrane, and to make metal catalyst in nano size particle and to prevent the aggregation. Developing these technology. Hitachi plans to realize continuous use for 10 hours per a fuel charge and lower cost than conventional secondary battery.
( The Chemical Daily March 26, 2003 )

 
10.FC Related Instrument Development
  Yokogawa Electric Corporation announced on March 27 that they will market impedance meter gWT1600FCh from 28 which can directly measure the impedance of wide range FC from single cell to large scale stack. It is possible to input voltage of 1.5 ~ 800 V directly and the maximum 600 A can be measured by using current sensor. This is the first product for large capacity though the meters for small capacity are available up to now, and this means that the impedance measurement devices which can cover all development stage from elemental research to commercialization stage has been on market. The price is 1.6 million yen for one channel input or more.
( Denki Shimbun, Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun March 28, 2003 )

 

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