THE LATEST FUEL CELL NEWS IN JAPAN, May 2003

Arranged by T. HOMMA
1. Government Policy and Activity
2. Development and Commercialization of MCFC
3. Research and Development on Basic and Elemental Technology of FC
4. Development of Home Use Stationary PEFC and Its Commercialization
5. The Front of FCV
6. Development of Reforming and Hydrogen Generation Technology 
7. Hydrogen Station and Hydrogen Storage Technology
8. Technology Development of Micro FC
9. New Fuel and New Type FC
10. Trial Fabrication of FC Robot
11. Instrument Technology related to FC

1. Government Policy and Activity
(1)Agency of Natural Resources and Energy
  gPolicy Study Group for Fuel Cell Commercializationh, private research committee for president of ANRE, was held on April 15, 2003 and current status having tackled with commercialization of PEFC, budget assignment (30.7 billion yen in 2003) and development states for various FC have been reported. Toward realization of hydrogen energy society, some study subjects have been reported, including that integrated plan on market entry for FC and hydrogen and optimum introduction scenario by developing detail model which can conduct simulation should be studied. There was a opinion at the same time that durability and cost of FC are remarkable delay in development progress. And present states on MCFC and SOFC have been reported and the policy for development and promotion on high temperature FC have been debated.
 ( The Daily Automotive News April 16, 2003 )
  ANRE set cost target on high temperature FC including MCFC and SOFC in 2010. The cost targets are 300,000 yen/kW for several hundreds kW class and 200,000 yen/kW for several thousands kW class, aiming at improvement of economy for FC.
 ( Denki Shimbun April 18, 2003 )

(2)Ministry of the Environment
  ME has decided a policy to conduct model businesses at 10 places over the nation, which are FC power generation making use of garbage. Their policy is to select 10 places by September this year, such as condominium, hotel and hospital through prefectural governments and they prepare the budget of 100 million yen in 2003 as project to promote effective use of garbage. ME will subsidize 1/3 to the project.
 ( Mainichi Shimbun April 26, 2003, The Chemical Daily April 30, 2003 )
  gStrategic Committee for Effective Use of FCh in ME made a report titled uStrategy for effective use of FC in order to utilize biomass resourcesvon April 25, 2003. They estimated that CO2 of 1,293,000 ton/year will be reduced by stationary FC using biomass resources to be abandoned as waste.
 ( Denki Shimbun, Nihon Kogyo Shimbun, Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun April 28, 2003 )

 
2. Development and Commercializtion of MCFC
(1) Kirin Brewery Co. Ltd., and Marubeni Corp.
  Kirin announced on April 2, 2003 that they started real operation 250kW MCFC fabricated by FCE, Inc. in US, which was introduced under cooperation with Marubeni, at Toride Brewery Plant, in Ibaragi Prefecture. The MCFC is operated using methane rich digester gas generated in the process of wastewater treatment. Kirin takes charge of feeding fuel to the fuel cell and Marubeni is engaged in operation and maintenance of the fuel cell facility, while Kirin buys all the power and steam generated for use at the brewery. Price of the electric power is the same level as price with Tokyo Electric Power Co., and about 4% of the total power used at the brewery and 1% of steam are generated by the plant.
 ( Nikkei Sangyo Shimbun, Nihon Kogyo Shimbun, Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun, Denki Shimbun April 03, 2003 )

(2) Ishikawajima-Harima Heavy Industries Co., Ltd.
  IHI got three orders of 300kW class MCFC in succession, and intends to accelerate fuel cell business by performing feasibility study of 7MW class MCFC for commercialization soon. The first 300kW MCFC, entrusted from NEDO, is in test operation at Kawagoe Thermal Power Station of Chubu Electric Power Co., The second one, which is commercial No.1 unit, was completed installation in Shin-Nagoya Thermal Power Station of Chubu Electric Co., and now in basic performance test, is to be demonstrated test to generate electric power under combination with slagging gasifier for waste by Spring 2004. The third unit was installed in Motomachi Environmental Center of Toyota Motor Corporation, which is a link of development subsidy program for commercialization by NEDO, aiming at demonstration of combined cycle with micro-gas turbine. Based on these experiences, IHI will develop standard design method introducing unit concept and so on, and will develop compact, low-cost power plant. Target cost is \500,000 - 600,000/kW.
 ( The Chemical Daily April 23, 2003 )

 
3. Research and Development on Basic and Elemental Technology of FC
(1) GSI Creos Corp.
  GSI Creos (former Gunze Ltd.) announced on April 08, 2003 that they have developed new metal catalyst using carbon nano-fiber, under instruction with Morinobu Endo, Professor of Shinshu University. They succeeded to deposit superfine metallic particles such as platinum and palladium on to any portion of GSI nano-fiber product called gCarbereh which structure is like stacked cups. Applying this to fuel cell, design flexibility of electrode will expand and this is expected to realize high performance catalyst at low cost. The carbon nano-fiber with unique structure called stacked cup type has characteristics which has many active points at edges of the structure, being different from carbon nano-tube. Using these characteristics, GSI Creos has developed adjusting method for quantity of metal catalyst component, the particle size and distance between particles, in the manufacturing stage. Single crystal clusters of platinum could be arranged by distance of 2 - 3nm and the carbon nano-fiber is superior for mass-production. Therefore, high performance and low cost catalyst for fuel cell is expected.
 ( Asahi Shimbun, Nikkei Sangyo Shimbun, Nihon Kogyo Shimbun April 9, 2003, Nihon Keizai Shimbun April 11, 2003 )

(2) Mitsui Mining Co., Ltd.
  Mitsui Mining announced on April 10, 2003 that they have developed new PEFC separator material basically made of natural graphite, and put on market through their subsidiary ; Mitsui Mining Material Co., Ltd. Grinding the natural graphite in fish scale state into spherical particle by their own technology, plastic compound material is made by mixing with thermosetting resin and pelletizing. They also developed flat plate and bipolar type separator fabrication technology by hot-press, and prepared system to be correspond various requests to supply. The cost will be 1/10 comparing to artificial graphite. It plans to produce 3 tons per month at Mitsui Mining and Cokes Co., Ltd.(Kita-Kyushu City) for the time being, and to invest \300 million for pulling production capacity up to 10 tons per month by 2005.
 ( Nihon Kogyo Shimbun April 14, 2003, Nikkei Sangyo Shimbun April 23, 2003 )

(3) Japan Gore Tex Inc.
  In cooperation with US Gore, Japan Gore Tex improved PEFC ion exchange membrane and succeeded to extend lifetime up to 40,000 hours by devising electrode structure and various materials. They also verified the performance by experiment corresponding to 40000 hours (5years) continuous operation.
 ( Nihon Keizai Shimbun April 11, 2003 )

(4) Luftwasser
  Luftwasser (Higashi-Osaka City) has developed plate type heat exchanger which can exchange heat between gas and liquid. The heat exchanger named gLuftwasserh is made by cutting flow channels by chemical etching without stamping and putting a number of plates together. Target of the heat exchanger performance is 3 ∼ 4 times in comparison with conventional one, and or 1/3 ∼ 1/4 smaller if performance is the same. The size of the heat exchanger produced is 11cmx3.5cmx1.2cm, palm-size small. The company will work on manufacturers to use it for home-use PEFC cogeneration facilities, especially required compactness.
 ( Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun April 11, 2003, Nihon Keizai Shimbun April 25, 2003 )

 
4. Development of Home Use Stationary PEFC and Its Commercialization
(1) Matsushita Electric Industrial Co., Ltd. and others
  Matsushita has begun to research the possibility on the diffusion of home use FC with rental system, utilizing their capital power. On the other hand, Ebara Corporation will start to sell FC for enterprises in April 2003 and aim to establish the basement for mass-production.
 ( Nikkei Sangyo Shimbun March 31, 2003 )

(2) Gas Companies
  Tokyo Gas Co., Ltd. and Osaka Gas Co., Ltd. are going to select their manufacturers for practical use of LNG reforming type fuel cells, which they are considered to put on market in 2005 and 2006 respectively. Tokyo Gas will begin the evaluation toward real market entry of the FC with the manufacturers from April and Osaka Gas will have manufacturersf presentations by May 6 ` 9 and make their selection of 3 or 4 manufacturers around June 10. Tokyo Gas sets the target price at 1 million yen per unit to be operated under DSS (Daily Start and Stop) including the subsidy of its half amount, and Osaka Gas sets the target price at 1.2 million yen on the same conditions.
  The specifications Osaka Gas showed at the manufacturersf presentation are; power generation efficiency 31.5%, heat utilization efficiency 45%, price of ex-factory 780,000 yen, selling price 1.2million yen. They expect the subsidy of half of the price from government. The firm has sold 1.2kW cogeneration systems based on Hondafs gas engines at the price of 750,000 yen and they are considering to sell FC at the same price level with the subsidy. On the other hand, Tokyo Gas will not select the manufacturers and are going to evaluate new models on their tolerance and reliability from April which have been developed by manufacturers. The present longest operating hour of FC is 5,000 hrs by Ebara Ballard and trouble free system will be the most important condition for practical use at present.
 ( Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun April 2, 2003 )

(3) Verification Tests in The Japan Gas Association
   IHI with a 5kW natural reforming unit and Matsushita Electric Works, Ltd. with a 1 kW propane gas reforming unit, both have joined in the verification tests on PEFC cogeneration systems which have been carried out by the Association.
  IHI had delivered 2 units of naphtha reforming PEFC to Nippon Oil Company, which have been under verification tests for long time at gas stations. IHI had invested to Mosaic Co., the research agency of American Gas Association, and introduced their developed PEFC but IHI has decided to develop PEFC by himself and got all the development right of PEFC from Mosaic and then IHI has manufactured 2 units of natural gas reforming PEFC and put them on the test. IHI has improved FC stack and developed new separator, furthermore they have been developing their own reforming systems for naphtha, natural gas, LPG and DME and 2 units this time are in a link of their development.
  Matsushita Electric Works had put the portable type 250W PEFC units on limited sale which mounted Ballard stack and this time they developed 2 units of propane reforming units, which loaded other firmfs FC stack and they fabricated total system including steam reformer.
  Besides, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Ltd. participated first in the test by 1 kW unit. The system of the unit is simplified and its net efficiency is said a little lower than 28%. Including these participants, 20 units of FC are lined up for the verification tests, including 1 kW units of Ebara Ballard, Sanyo Electric Co., Ltd., Toshiba-IFC Corporation, Toyota Motor Corporation, Matsushita Electric Industrial Co., Ltd., and 5 kW of Plug Power.
 ( Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun April 8, 2003 )

(4) The Japan Research Institute, Limited
  The Japan Research Institute announced on April 16 that they would establish an enterprise alliance gDSS consortiumh around May 2003, to investigate mechanism how to operate home use FC. In order to popularize FC to homes, they think it is inevitable to study on software such as the system utilizing the generated power mutually among the houses. Participating enterprises will study how to maintain the reliability of FC, how to feed fuels and how to share the charge on users.
 ( Nikkei Sangyo Shimbun, Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun April 17, 2003, Denki Shimbun April 22, 2003, Nihon Kogyo Shimbun April 30, 2003 )

(5) Osaka Gas Co., Ltd.
  Osaka Gas has developed LPG reformer for home use FC. After endurance test, they aim to equip it on a FC unit by March 2007 and will put 1kW unit or larger on practical use. By the endurance test, they will also make the problem clear that LPG properties would be changed due to remained heavy components at the bottom of a cylinder when LPG in the cylinder is used under natural evaporation.
 ( Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun April 23, 2003 )

 
5. The Front of FCV
(1) Lease sale of FCV
  Toyota Motor Corporation is going to lease 6 more FCV by the end of May, as they have already leased 4 FCHV, hybrid cars to the central government at the end of year 2002 and 2 FCVs to University of California, Berkeley. These FCVs are to be supplied to Aichi Prefectural Government, Nagoya City Government, Toho Gas Co., Ltd., Tokyo Gas Co., Ltd., Nippon Oil Corporation and Iwatani International Corporation. Besides, Iwatani is going to introduce Hondafs FCX by lease at their head office around the end of June.
 ( Nikkan Kogyou Shimbun April 7, 2003 )

(2) Suzuki Motor Corporation
  Mr. Tsuda, the president of Suzuki Motor Corporation, expressed that they are at the last corner on the development of compact size FCV and intend to perform the public road tests within 2003. The firm has been developing FCV under the cooperation with GM.
 ( Nihon Keizai Shimbun, Chunichi Shimbun, The Kahoku Shimpo April 17, 2003 )

 
6. Development for Reforming and Hydrogen Generation Technology
(1) IDEMITSU KOSAN CO., LTD
  IDEMITSU developed a catalyst to generate hydrogen efficiently from kerosene. The developed catalyst is alumina base with ruthenium metal to enhance decomposing reaction and some additive, and its feature is reducing particle size of ruthenium which generally agglomerates into around 100 nm diameter, down to around 10 nm. Increasing reactive surface, high concentration hydrogen can be generated efficiently. And also it is reported that this new catalyst keeps the performance for 20,000 hours, while the conventional catalyst start to deteriorate gradually after 4,000 hours. The demonstration test with new catalyst has been proceeding jointly with Petroleum Energy Center.
 ( Nikkei Sangyo Shimbun March 31, 2003 )

(2) H2 Japan INC.
  H2 Japan (Sapporo City) developed the technology to ferment garbage and generate hydrogen utilizing anaerobic bacteria taken out from termite, and operate FC. Incase of bran (remained peel after powdering wheat) discharged from flour mill, assuming discharged bran quantity is 19 ton per day, power of 13.75 kW is expected to be genertaed. The company has been proceeding with the test by 10 litter fermentation tank, and obtained sufficient data and they will construct demonstration plant of some 100 litter size within 2003, with estimated budget of 30 million yen.
 ( Denki Shimbun April 1, 2003 )

(3) RAKUNO GAKUEN UNIVERSITY
  Professor Okamoto, RAKUNO GAKUEN UNIVERSITY (Ebetsu City) et al, jointly with National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology and Setec Co.(Sapporo City) developed the technology to yield hydrogen from biogas generated from such as cattle excreta and to utilize as fuel for FC. Utilizing bacteria and zinc oxide, removing hydrogen sulfide from biogas generated from fermentation of cattle excreta, yielding hydrogen and feeding to PEFC, they succeeded continuous power generation more than 7 hours.
 ( Nikkei Sangyo Shimbun April 2, 2003, Hokkaido Shimbun April 3, 2003 )

(4) SUMITOMO METAL MINING CO., LTD et al
  SUMITOMO METAL MINING, National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology, BIOTEC CO., LTD, environmental business venture, et al jointly developed the technology to generate methane gas from cattle excreta and to utilize for FC. Removing efficiently impurity such as sulfur generated from fermentation of cattle excreta by using photosynthetic bacteria and sulfur bacteria, they succeeded to reduce the cost of methane purification to 1/10 in comparison with conventional system. By combining these bacteria and zinc oxide adsorbent, sulfur concentration can be reduced to some ppb order. Suzuki Shoko Co., Ltd and RAKUNO GAKUEN UNIVERSITY also participate to this joint development.
 ( Nikkei Sangyo Shimbun April 3, 2003 )

(5) Showa Shell Sekiyu K. K.
  Showa Shell Sekiyu developed the technology to reduce CO2 emission by 20 % in the naphtha reforming process. Optimizing air and steam ratio of catalytic partial oxidation reforming process for mixture of naphtha, air and steam, increasing hydrogen production and utilizing metal and membrane to selectively adsorb hydrogen and to remove impurity, they succeeded to reduce naphtha quantity required for hydrogen production by 15 ~ 20 %.
 ( Nikkei Sangyo Shimbun April 28, 2003 )

 
7. Hydrogen Station and Hydrogen Storage Technology
(1) Toyota Gousei Co., Ltd
  Toyota Gousei announced on April 3, 2003 that they developed fuel tank made of all resin for CNG vehicle. The newly developed tank consisted of two layers that are resin layer and FRB layer, can withstand temperature of -40 to 100 Ž with gas pressure of 600 atm and its weight is successfully reduced by 60%, and they plan to develop high pressure hydrogen tank for FCV from now.
 ( Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun April 4, 2003)

(2) Tatsuno Corporation
  Tatsuno Corporation announced, who is the biggest manufacturer of gas oil measuring and dispensing equipment, that they had prospect for mass production of the measuring and dispensing equipment to be applied for hydrogen station of FCV. Tatsuno delivered the first hydrogen measuring and dispensing equipment to the hydrogen station at Tsurumi-Ku, Yokohama City, however, the cost of unit exceeded 10 million yen. And they succeeded to reduce the cost of the second unit more than 20 % by reducing number of parts etc. As the cost of gas oil dispensing equipment costs about 1.5 million yen, Tatsuno expects that the price of measuring and dispensing unit for hydrogen will possibly be 3 or 4 times of the gasoline.
 ( Nihon Keizai Shimbun April 5, 2003 )

(3) NIPPON OIL CORPORATION
  The hydrogen supply station for FCV gYokohama Asahi Hydrogen Stationh, constructed by NIPPON OIL at Asahi-Ku, Yokohama City is completed, and on April 10th , the opening ceremony have been held with participation of parties concerned. It is the naphtha steam reforming system and developed under the JHFC project. In case of passenger car, it has the hydrogen charging capability for 5 FCV continuously.
 ( Nihon Keizai Shimbun, Nikkei Sangyo Shimbun, Nihon Kogyo Shimbun, Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun April 11, 2003 )

(4) Sumitomo Corporation
  Sumitomo signed the sole agent contract, covering Asia and Pacific Region including Japan, on high pressure hydrogen tank for FCV with QUANTUM Fuel System Technologies Worldwide , Inc. (Irvine, Ca. USA). Tank of QUANTUM is made of carbon fiber and the weight is 1/5 of aluminum tank and a hydrogen tank which can withstand 700 atm is already commercialized. GM invests 19.9 % share of QUANTUM.
 ( Nihon Keizai Shimbun April 22, 2003 )

 
8. Technology Development of Micro FC
  Kaken Inc. (Mito City) has developed high performance catalyst to be used in anode of micro PEFC to be applied for portable phone or others. They produce the catalyst by spraying highly volatile ruthenium oxide (RuO4) to platinum compound added on carbon and by drying it at 110 Ž. Particle size of the catalyst is 1 ` 3 nm level, smaller than conventional mixed catalyst of platinum and ruthenium of 3 ` 5 nm. They said that the production cost will be about 1/10 in comparison with conventional one because large reactor is not necessary.
 ( Nikkei Sangyo Shimbun April 7, 2003 )

 
9. New Fuel and New Type FC
  Professor Masaru Ichikawa et al., Hokkaido University succeeded to develop PEFC to supply directly cyclohexane as fuel. It has several merits such as reformer is not necessary, power reduction by cross-over is hardly found which is a problem in DMFC and CO2 is hardly generated when hydrogen is produced. Molecular size of cyclohexane is big and also it is hydrophobic, therefore, quantity to permeate electrolyte membrane is very small. They confirmed that the highest power is obtained at 100 Ž through performance test of FC and the limit electric current at 100 Ž is 80 mA/cm2.
 ( The Chemical Daily April 4, 2003 )

 
10. Trial Fabrication of FC Robot
  Sohgo Security Services Co., Ltd. announced on April 1, 2003 that they trial manufactured gXFCR-01h as security robot using DMFC (detail is not available). The robot works for 40 minutes by 5.8% methanol solution.
 ( Nikkei Sangyo Shimbun April 2, 2003, Nihon Kogyo Shimbun April 18, 2003 )

 
11. Instrument Technology related to FC
(1) Yokogawa Electric Corporation
  Yokogawa has developed impedance meter gWT1600FCh and put on market, which can measure directly impedance of large capacity FC. This meter can measure impedance precisely up to 800 V without any use of external sensor and also can cope with small scale FC such as single cell or short stack which voltage is less than 10 V and the resistance is less than several mƒ¶, by changing the terminal.
 ( Nikkei Sangyo Shimbun April 11, 2003 )
  Yokogawa announced on April 9, 2003 that they developed data collection unit, gMX100h for FC. They realized high data collection speed (100 times per second in case of the highest unit), increase of input data (Max. 200), high dielectric capability and usable by personal computer. It consists of main module and input module and the purpose is to measure voltage, current, temperature, pressure, flow rate etc. They plan to start sales from April 10, 2003 and the first delivery will be the end of May. The sales target is 1500 units at the first year.
 ( Denki Shimbun April 10, 2003 )

(2) Chino Corporation
  Chino completed trial production line for demonstration at their Facility and Instrument Division (Kuki City, Saitama Prefecture), in order to develop and fabricate evaluation unit for FC. Evaluation unit for FC is to inspect exact value of flow rate, humidity and pressure of hydrogen and oxygen to be supplied to FC. Investment amount is 20 million yen.
 ( Nikkei Sangyo Shimbun April 24, 2003 )

 

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