THE LATEST FUEL CELL NEWS IN JAPAN, JULY 2003

Arranged by T. HOMMA
1. Government Policy and Activity
2. Development and Commercialization of MCFC
3. Development of SOFC
4. Development and Commercialization of PEFC
5. Development of Home Use PEFC and the Business Evolution
6. The Front of FCV
7. Construction of Hydrogen Supply Station
8. Technology Development related to Micro FC
9. Research and Development of Fuel Reforming and Hydrogen Product
10. Development of Hydrogen Storage Technology
11. FC Related Technology and Maintenance and Management Business

1. Government Policy and Activity
(1) Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and TechnologyiMEXTj
  MEXT will start a project to research and develop next generation PEFC for achieving cost down and high performance by reexamining cell materials, from fiscal year 2003. The budget is 1 billion yen. Clean Energy Center, University of Yamanashi will become the center of the project and R&D organization will be set up in cooperation with private enterprises such as Toyota Motor Corporation, Asahi Kasei Corporation and so on. One example of themes is research and development of hydro-carbon material in place of fluoro-carbon material in order to develop electrolyte membrane with high temperature resistant up to 100.
 ( Denki Shimbun June 5, 2003 )

(2) Ministry of Economy,Trade and Industry (METI)EAgency of Natural Resources and Energy (ANRE)ENEDO(New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization)
  ANRE started to accept application for subsidy on Development of Facilities to Utilize DME Fuel.Subsidizing rate is lower than 2/3 of development cost and total budget in fiscal year 2003 is 748.3 million yen.
 ( Nikkei Sangyo Shimbun June 5, 2003 )
  Government intends to make deregulation on hydrogen by March 2005. For this target, NEDO has started development on safety, storage and transportation of hydrogen by entrusting Japan Automobile Research Institute, The Japan Gas Association, Petroleum Energy Center, etc. and will spend 25-billion yen for 5 years. 28 items for deregulations have been studying as candidates, including 11 for FCV, 10 for hydrogen infrastructure, 5 for home-use FC and so on.
 ( Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun June 26, 2003 )
  Petroleum Energy Center (PEC) has been selected for safety research on hydrogen infrastructure as a part of NEDO project gBasic Technology Development Project on Safe Utilization of Hydrogen and so onh. 170 million yen in total budget of 1.2 billion yen is assigned for PECfs research and the main themes of which are as follows; 1) safety evaluation and study of safety measures on hydrogen station, 2) verification of safety on reformer, 3) verification of items to keep safety, 4) optimization study on juxtaposition type hydrogen station with gasoline service station.
 ( The Chemical Daily June 20, 2003 )

(3) Ministry of Land,Infrastructure and Transport
  In order to study safety standard of FCV, Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport, will organize gProject Committee to Promote Practical Use of FCVh in National Traffic Safety and Environmental Laboratory. The committee intends to prepare cords and standards for safety and the environmental preservation on FC system (hydrogen, high voltage), car components and car body and to arrange the conditions for getting type certification in accordance with The Road Traffic Law. The first meeting will be held on June 11.
 ( Sankei Shimbun, Nihon Kogyo Shimbun June 10, 2003, The Daily Automotive News June 11, 2003 Denki Shimbun June 12, 2003 )

 
2. Development and Commercialization of MCFC
  Marubeni Corporation having sales right of FCE 250kW MCFC in Japan disclosed that the MCFC will be sold 30 units around the world by the end of 2003. 5 units will be sold in Japan. In US, 4 units have been operating and 9 units are scheduled for shipping to university, hospital and others. In Germany, diesel engine fabricator, subsidiary of Daimler Chrysler has been in charge of fabrication and sales of the MCFC and total 6 units have been installed at hospital, tire fabrication company and others. Furthermore 6 units will be installed in 2003. As for 5 units in Japan, Toride Factory, Kirin Brewery Co., Ltd. (already installed), Seibu(Western part) Water Treatment Center in Fukuoka City (decided order), Nippon Metal Industry Co., Ltd. (decided order) are already decided and besides these 3, 2 units are expected to be placed orders. Price of the 250kW MCFC is 150 million yen and the stack is required to replace after 3 years with price of 20 million yen. Electric power efficiency is high, 47%.
 ( Nikkei Sangyo Shimbun June 18, 2003 )

 
3. Development of SOFC
  NGK Insulators, Ltd. has developed SOFC which can obtain high output even at about 700 of operating temperature. The cell is 12cm diameter disk, made by 3 layers of electrolyte, anode and cathode. High performance at low temperature operation has been attained by making ceramic electrolyte thin to 10m. It is reported that power densities are 0.6W/cm2 at 650, 1.6W/cm2 at 750(voltage 0.7V). NGK has been continuing development for realization of practical use as a wide range of distributed power station such as home and office and also expects to apply to FCV in the future.
 ( Nikkei Sangyo Shimbun June 11, 2003 )

 
4. Development and Commercialization of PEFC
(1) Nippon Steel Chemical Co., Ltd.
  Nippon Steel Chemical will enter into cell material business of carbon components in lithium battery and separator for PEFC. It already started sample shipment of materials, targeting separators for stationary fuel cell and aims to commercialize them in 2005. Resin for mixing with carbon can be selected from both of phenol type and epoxy type. They will also develop forming method including injection molding for cost down.
 ( Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun June 5, 2003 )

(2) Ballard Power Systems
  Ballard Power Systems (BPS) realized far progressed PEFC for FCV in compactness and performance named gMark 902h and intends to supply it to all of the automobile manufacturers in the world. As for stationary PEFC, they will develop marketing strategy including Japanese market with 1kW class PEFC and newly developed 30 - 40kW class. Mr.Firoz Rasul, chairman of BPS said that Japan has the highest potential for introducing stationary PEFC in the world, because of high economic power and cost of energy. He also said that target price in long term will be realized $1500/kW, and $3000 - 5000/kW in short term.
 ( Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun June 5, 2003 )

(3) Toyobo Co., Ltd.
  Toyobo announced on June 10, 2003 that they have developed noble ion exchange membrane for PEFC which is able to function at high temperature and low humidity conditions, applying fiber production technology which is used for producing high strength and high heat resistant fibers. As developed new high heat resistant type hydrocarbon polymer gSPN Polymerh having ion conductivity, they produced complexed nano-composite ion exchange membrane with said polymer and supporting film with micro porous Polyparaphenylene Benzobis Oxazole (PBO; Zylon), developed by own firm and having both heat resistance and high strength. Putting it plainly, it has structure that high ion conductivity polymer even in low humidity condition is embedded in the hole of heat resistant film with many fine holes. The firm expressed that they confirmed its practical output under the condition of 80 of temperature and 10 ` 20% of humidity, furthermore it could be utilized under100, higher temperature condition than the above.
 ( Yomiuri Shimbun, Nikkei Sangyo Shimbun, Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun, The Chemical Daily June 11, 2003 )

(4) Osaka Laboratory of New Glass Forum
  Research group consisted of Takashi Kikukawa, researcher of Osaka Laboratory of New Glass Forum, Kouji Kuraoka, researcher of AIST (Assistant Professor, Kobe University of Mercantile Marine) and Tetsuo Yazawa (Professor, Himeji Institute of Technology) have succeeded in production of organic-inorganic hybrid solid electrolyte which can be used in the condition of high temperature over 100, by introducing proton conducting organic molecules into nano size fine holes on porous glass. The surface conditioning method was applied, in order to add the conducting molecules to porous glass. That is to utilize reaction between so-called silane coupling, of organic silicon compound and hydroxyl group on the surface of glass and the insides of fine holes and organic conducting molecules were introduced through covalent bond on the surface of base materials. Produced porous glass is square plate and its length is 20 mm, thickness is 0.9mm and the average diameter of fine holes is about 4nm.
 ( Nikkei Sangyo Shimbun June 23, 2003 )

(5) ARV
  ARV (Shinjo city, Aich prefecture) has developed an electrode which can be improved the power generation efficiency by 20% compared with that of the existing ones. The new electrode has been produced by putting fine platinum particles for the catalyst of PEFC electrode into gaps between tips of carbon nano-phon and then heat treating at about 450~470. The heat treatment has effects to remove gaps between the carbon nano-phon and platinum particles. Trial product of the new electrode material is sold at 100,000 yen per gram at present. They are really going to sell them at 30,000 yen per gram from August this year. They have the ability to produce them 400 grams per day.
 ( Nikkei Sangyo Shimbun June 27, 2003 )


 
5. Development of Home Use PEFC and the Business Evolution
(1) MHI
  Hiroshima Research and Development Center of Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Ltd. (MHI) has developed 1kW output home use PEFC system and shipped them as samples to gas utility companies and public organization and then intends to make them commercial product in 2006. The dimension of a new unit is 60cm in width, 30cm in depth, 1m in height and 180 litter in volume and it is almost the same size as an outdoor machine of an air conditioner. The Center said it was the smallest in the world. The center had once developed home use PEFC systems in June 2002 which was 340 litter in volume and has remodeled them this time with adopting plastic made one piece block including piping, plinth and side wall, which can save the piping spaces outside FC surrounded by fuel, air and drain piping and furthermore, they succeeded to reduce numbers of parts by 40%, resulting from the improvement of performance of control equipment, thus the down sizing became realistic. The efficiency of power generation at rated load is 36% (LHV) and 32% at 300W of the minimum load and total efficiency is announced 87% at rated load. The fuel cell stack is separated in 6 blocks and each block can be replaced like cartridge respectively.
  The above mentioned 1 kW home use FC, developed by Hiroshima Research and Development Center of MHI, has another specialty in the technique being able to extract hydrogen from 6 different kinds of fuels. Besides of city gas and LPG which are used the above mentioned unit, kerosene, naphtha, methanol and DME are able to be applied. The efficiency of reformation is 83% at rated load and 79% at the output level of 300W. The Center also stated that operability on DSS(Daily Start and Stop) has been greatly improved because of the reformer furnishing with purge gas generating mechanism in place of N2 gas.
 ( Yomiuri Shimbun, Mainichi Shimbun, Nippon Keizai Shimbun, Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun, The Chemicals Daily June 3, 2003 )

(2) Osaka Gas Co., Ltd.
  Regarding home use FC fueled by natural gas, Osaka Gas will decide on June 10 , 2003 to conclude primary contracts with plural manufacturers and promote their developments in order to put them on market by March, 2006. They will select 4 manufacturers of Matsushita Electric Industrial Co., Ltd., Ebara-Ballard, Sanyo Electric Co., Ltd. and Toshiba IFC or 3 from them, and Osaka Gas will again select 2 manufacturers from 4 companies in April, 2004. Osaka Gas has already shown the conditions to the manufacturers; the power generating efficiency is 31.5% in 24 hours continuous operation, the heat recovery efficiency is 45% and overall efficiency is 76%. The life time is 10 years. The delivery price from manufacturers is 780,000 yen and the selling price is 1.2 million yen. There is not big gap on the performance of FC between Osaka Gas and the manufacturers but about the cost, there is a big difference between Osaka Gas and the manufacturers; Osaka Gas estimates that it can be made at 2.5 million yen per unit even at present but the manufacturers express that it would be difficult.
 ( Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun June 5, 2003 )
  Osaka Gas agreed to conduct cooperation research with 4 companies, Matsushita Electric Industrial Co., Ltd., Sanyo Electric Co., Ltd., Toshiba IFC and Ebara-Ballard on June 19, 2003. The 4 companies will develop home use PEFC cogeneration systems under cooperation with Osaka Gas respectively.
 ( Yomiuri Shimbun, Asahi Shimbun, Mainichi Shimbun, Nihon Keizai Shimbun, Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun June 20, 2003 )

(3) The Japan Gas Association
  The Japan Gas association made publicly open the site of an employeefs home of Hokkaido Gas Co., Ltd. on June 17, 2003 where the verification test of 1kW output home use PEFC has been carried out. Up to this point, FC has been running satisfactorily even in winter and be affordable for demand of electricity except for peak load such as some periods of time in morning and night when electricity consumption is very high.
 ( Hokkaido Shimbun June 18, 2003 )

(4) Fuji Electric Co., Ltd.
  Fuji Electric has manufactured 1 kW natural gas reforming type PEFC system (the second stage trial product) which has the performance of 31% of power generation efficiency (HHV, overall thermal efficiency is 76%). The volume of the unit including reformer is 252 litter and becomes quite compact compared with previous model (484 litter). Unitizing the reformer, CO converter and CO removal and adopting high performance catalyst, the volume of the equipment became less than a half of the existing one and reforming efficiency became 81%. There is one more merit to be able to take out heat of 75because a stack operating temperature is 80. They aim to improve the reforming efficiency on partial load and carry out 10, 000 hours endurance tests, and then to make reliability high. The third stage trial product which will be the last prototype aiming at commercial product are scheduled to be completed in April, 2004.
 ( Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun June 24, 2003 )


 
6. The Front of FCV
(1) Toyota Motor Corporation
  Toyota announced on June 10, 2003 that they could confirm the reason of hydrogen leakage occurred in FCHV leased for Ministry of the Environment and they reported the cause is defect of parts applied for high pressure tank. Material used as rubber ring to seal gas is not adequate and the ring had been degraded and small quantity of hydrogen leaked from the gap of the ring.
 ( Nihon Keizai Shimbun, Nikkei Sangyo Shimbun, Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun June 11, 2003 )
  Toyota has developed a model which improved recycle ability and specialized for FCV, introducing method of LCA (Life Cycle Assessment). They will exhibit it at Tokyo Motor Show to be held in October 2003 and also study commercialization as next generation FCV. This next generation model is to reduce not only exhaust gas but materials used for automobile, which burdens environment with load. They will adopt parts having recycle capability and improve structure for easy dismantle, adopting LCA method from production to waste and establish totally ecological car model specialized for FCV.
 ( Yomiuri Shimbun June 17, 2003, The Daily Automotive News June 18, 2003 )

(2) Mitsubishi Motors Corporation, Suzuki Motor Corporation and Hino Motors, Ltd.
  Mitsubishi, Suzuki and Hino, 3 companies take part in running test of FCV under JHFC (Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Demonstration Project in Japan) . Mitsubishi will develop FCV based on Grandis, mini-van and basic technologies will be given from Daimler Chrysler and PEMFC made by Ballard will be loaded. Suzuki would be considered to receive the technologies from GM but the base car is not decided yet. Hino has developed FC bus for decided route under cooperation with Toyota. Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry will subsidize 500 million yen to the 3 companies through Japan Electric Vehicle Association.
 ( Nihon Keizai Shimbun June 12, 2003,Yomiuri Shimbun June 13, 2003 )

(3) Mitsubishi Electric Corporation
  Mitsubishi will commercialize gDIP-IPMh, power semi conductor module for inverter control to be used for electric vehicle including FCV and start delivery of sample from March 2004. They improved reliability to be able to load it on car although this has been used for domestic use electric appliance so far. They succeeded down sizing to reduce 40 % area necessary for installation including related circuit in case of small packaged type. Price as sample is 5,000 yen and they will start mass production from January 2005.
 ( Nihon Kogyo Shimbun June 23, 2003, Nikkei Sangyo Shimbun June 24, 2003 )

 
7. Construction of Hydrogen Supply Station
(1) Ariake Hydrogen Station
  Iwatani International Corporation and Showa Shell Sekiyu K. K. have completed construction of gAriake Hydrogen Stationh at Koto-ku, Tokyo which can supply liquefied hydrogen and the opening ceremony will be held on June 12, 2003. The liquefied hydrogen will be transported from works of subsidiary of Iwatani based at Amagasaki city and stored in tank. And it will be supplied also from liquefied hydrogen production facility from the end of 2004, now under construction at Kimitsu Steel Works, Nippon Steel Corporation. This is the 4th hydrogen station constructed by JHFC project.
 ( Nihon Keizai Shimbun, Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun June 10, 2003, Mainichi Shimbun, Nihon Keizai Shimbun, The Daily Automotive News June 13, 2003 )

(2) Idemitsu Kosan Co., Ltd., Kurita Water Industries, Ltd., Babcock-Hitachi K. K.
  Idemitsu, Kurita, Babcock-Hitachi and others will participate in hydrogen station project of JHFC. Idemitsu will construct hydrogen production facility from kerosene at Hatano city in Kanagawa prefecture. Consortium consisting of Kurita, Shinanen Co., Ltd. and Itochu Enex Co., Ltd.will fabricate and install transportable hydrogen station at Sagamihara city, which water electrolysis unit is loaded on truck. Babcock-Hitachi will fabricate and install transportable hydrogen station at Ome city, which hydrogen production unit from town gas is loaded on truck. They plan to complete them by March 2004 by budget of 2 billion yen from Engineering Advancement Association of Japan.
 ( Nikkei Sangyo Shimbun June 12, 2003, Asahi Shimbun, Nihon Keizai Shimbun, Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun, The Chemical Daily June 13, 2003 )

 
8. Technology Development related to Micro FC
(1) Omori Technos Co., Ltd.
  Omori Technos (Kaita-cho, Hiroshima prefecture) developed ultra micro pump applicable for micro FC to supply fuel. The pump size is 8 mm(W) x 8 mm(H) x 5 mm(D), rectangular shape and inlet and outlet are provided outside. Cross shape inside rotor and star shape outside rotor both rotate and liquid is charged inside when the room made by inside rotor and outside rotor expands and the liquid is discharged when the gap becomes narrow. Cylindrical shape motor of 1 cm length is installed backside of the pump. Resin is used as the pump material, not to react with methanol.
 ( Chugoku Shimbun June 5, 2003 )

(2) NTT DoCoMo, Inc.
  Keiji Tachikawa, president of NTT DoCoMo announced that they intend to adopt FC as power source for gFOMAh, third generation portable phone.
 ( Nihon Kogyo Shimbun June 6, 2003 )

 
9. Research and Development of Fuel Reforming and Hydrogen Product
(1) Ishikawajima-Harima Heavy Industries Co., Ltd.
  IHI intends to develop hydrogen production unit from town gas by 2005 and sell them to domestic gas utility companies. They started the development of plant to take hydrogen out of town gas, using palladium alloy membrane, their own technology. It makes possible to reduce size and hydrogen production cost down to 100 yen/Nm3, around a half in comparison with conventional method. The size of hydrogen production unit of 40 Nm3/h will be 2.5 m cube and it can be installed even in narrow space of urban district.
 ( Nihon Keizai Shimbun June 7, 2003 )

(2) Nihon Techno Co., Ltd.
  Nihon Techno has put gG-500h, hydrogen and oxygen production unit on market. They have verified safety under 10 MPa and the price is from 5 million yen, with safety equipments.
( Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun June 17, 2003 )
(3) The Japan Steel Works Ltd. (JSW)
JSW announced on June 18, 2003 that the gHydrogen Energy Development Centerh belonging to MSP (Muroran Strategic Project) Promotion Headquarter is to be transferred to Research and Development Headquarter as of June 27, 2003. JSW has been expanding hydrogen related business including development of high pressure compressor for hydrogen supply.
 ( Nikkei Sangyo Shimbun June 19, 2003 )

(4) Japan Fine Ceramic Center (JFCC)
  JFCC announced that they developed two fabrication processes for hydrogen separation membrane which can contribute to improve efficiency of hydrogen production process. The both are the process to control fine pore structure of separation membrane precisely and have function of molecular sieve. The one of them is chemical reaction process and the technology to control pore size from some nm to sub nm by controlling heat treatment condition of silicon system polymer. For the hydrogen separation membrane, they can make 150 nm thickness precise porous material having no defects. The another electro chemical process is the technology to make pore size of porous base supporter fine by charging electric pulse voltage on aluminum and they succeeded to make fine pore of 3 nm. Combining these two processes, they plan to improve performance of hydrogen separation membrane.
 ( Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun June 24, 2003, The Chemical Daily June 25, 2003 )

(5) Nagoya University
  Assistant to professor, Toshio Yoshida, Graduate School of Engineering, Nagoya University, succeeded the photo catalytic reaction which converts methane to ethane and hydrogen by silica catalyst loading cerium, rare earth. The feature of this reaction is to be conducted at high safety conditions under ambient temperature and pressure and to produce ethane by single stage. As the high temperature and pressure are required for the direct methane reforming, ethane is easily converted to various hydro-carbon and hydrogen and this process is evaluated as high energy potential by making ethane like this.
 ( Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun June 25, 2003 )

 
10. Development of Hydrogen Storage Technology
(1) JFE CONTAINER Co., Ltd.
  JFE CONTAINER (Itami City), jointly with Dynetec Industries Ltd (Canada), develops high pressure hydrogen tank for FCV, which contain inside the pressure reducing valve and electro-magnetic valve, within fiscal year of 2003. Though the existing magnetic valve for charging high pressure hydrogen safely from hydrogen gas station and the pressure reducing valve for reducing pressure and supplying hydrogen gas to FC are mounted on outside of tank, to contain these valves inside substantially strong tank and protect from external impact and prevent fuel leakage is much excellent way. Both companies plan to complete 35 MPa tank within fiscal year of 2003 and develop 70 MPa tanks in 2004. JFE CONTAINER and Dynetec Industries signed business alliance agreement in 1999 and have been selling aluminum lined carbon tank to car manufactures monopolistically in Japan.
 ( Denki Shimbun June 9, 2003 )

(2) 4 Companies in Kansai Region
  4 companies in Kansai region that are Iwatani International Corporation, MURATA MACHINERY, LTD (Kyoto City), SUMIKIN KIKOH COMPANY, LTD (Amagasaki City) and BBB Neriki Valve, Co., Ltd (Amagasaki City), develop jointly new type tank which can store hydrogen gas at 70 MPa for FCV by bringing each technology together. Applying braiding technology which derived from traditional hand craft art in Kyoto, the feature is to reinforce tank by braiding carbon fiber, and they plan to make trial product in fiscal year 2004 and commercialize it in fiscal year 2007. MURATA MACHINERY, applying technology of gbraiding machineh, already has developed carbon fiber treatment unit and SUMIKIN KIKOH produces tank of light weight material such as aluminum and Neriki provides safety valve etc. Iwatani will be in charge of total performance evaluation including safety.
 ( Yomiuri Shimbun June 10, 2003 )

(3) Kyoto University
  A group of Professor, Koichi Komatsu, Assistant to professor, Yasuijiro Murata et al, Institute for Chemical Research of Kyoto University, developed the technology to make hole on fullerene and trap hydrogen molecule. The group added nitride, oxygen and then sulfur to C60 one by one and untied a part of spherical connection and made hole, and then charged hydrogen by pressurizing the molecule at 200~800 atm and sealed the hole by laser irradiation. By this technology, it is confirmed that the hydrogen are trapped in all molecule. Professor Komatsu said gThis technology can be applied to safe hydrogen transportation as trapped hydrogen molecule can not get out at ambient temperatureh
 ( Kyoto Shimbun June 17, 2003 )

 
11. FC Related Technology and Maintenance and Management Business
(1) Ishikawajima-Harima Heavy Industries Co., Ltd (IHI)
  IHI starts the new services for continuous monitoring by using sensor for operation of wind power, gas turbine, FC etc delivered by IHI and informing person in charge of maintenance by operator, of the abnormal states. Reducing the time for recovering, cumulated operating data are provided also to designers and utilized for development of new products. The name of the services is gIEHot Lineh and the call center will be in Koto-Ku, Tokyo.
 ( Nikkei Sangyo Shimbun June 3, 2003 )

(2) EcoTron Co., Ltd
  EcoTron, subsidiary of NISSIN ELECTRIC CO., LTD, developed new product of rectifier element to be used for FC inverter, which utilizes silicon carbide base plate instead of silicon base plate. As fine pores are formed on the base plate in case it is made of silicon carbide, they made base plate by selecting no pores area and realized the base plate. The current resistance loss of this rectifier element is small, 1/10 in comparison with conventional and inverter efficiency can be improved and dielectric performance is improved up to 1,000 V.
 ( Nikkei Sangyo Shimbun June 12, 2003 )


 

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