THE LATEST FUEL CELL NEWS IN JAPAN, OCTOBER 2004

Arranged by T. HOMMA
1.Governmental Policy and Activity
2.Policy and Activity in Local Government
3.Business Deployment of MCFC
4.Technology Development and Business Deployment of SOFC
5.Research and Development of Elemental Technologies for PEMFC
6.Development, Demonstration and Business Deployment of PEMFC for Home and Commercial Use
7.The Front of FCV
8.Technology and Construction of Hydrogen Station for FCV
9.Development of New Application for FC
10.Hydrogen Production and Development of Reforming Technology
11.Development of Hydrogen Storing Technology
12.Development of Micro FC
13.Instrument Technologies Related to FC and Hydrogen
14.FC Related Business

1.Governmental Policy and Activity
(1) Ministry of the Environment
Ministry of the Environment will start a project that the grade and junior high school are equipped with fuel cells for the purpose of education on a problem of global warming from fiscal year 2005. They have the plan to introduce fuel cells into ten schools all over the country in the first year and to expand it to a level, one school in each prefecture in fiscal year 2006. Therefore, they ask for the appropriation of 100 million yen in fiscal year 2005.
( Mainichi Shimbun August 31, 2004 )
The first stage budgetary request for science and technology by Ministry of the Environment in fiscal year 2005 is 38.2 billion yen, 22% more than that of 2004. Also, the request for technical development to prevent global warming is 2.7 billion yen (1.6 billon yen in 2004) and it is focused on development of the energy related technologies using hydrogen and fuel cell and introduction of renewable energy using biomass. They intend to conduct the public announcement to collect proposals for technology developments which accelerate use, promotion and the spread of hydrogen and biomass.
( Nikkei Sangyo Shimbun September 2, 2004 )
(2) Council for Science and Technology Policy, Cabinet Office
Council for Science and Technology Policy held the plenary session on September 9, 2004 and formally decided an outline of the first stage budgetary request for science and technology in fiscal year 2005 and the system reform of the competitive research fund and others. The first stage budgetary request for science and technology is 4 trillion and 11.1 billion yen, 11% more than that of 2004. As for priority subjects for science and technology, they decided to tackle 8 fields such as next generation robot, utilization and application of biomass, hydrogen utilization and fuel cell, and nano and bio technologies.
( Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun September 10, 2004 )
2.Policy and Activity in Local Government
Tokyo Metropolitan Government will operate FCB (bus) at Kasumigaseki or in front of Mitsukoshi department store in Ginza from October 1 to 29, 2004. The bus will be in services such as one round trip a day between Harumi wharf and Tokyo station via Kachidoki station and Ginza (4 chome), and two round trips a day between Harumi wharf and Yotsuya station via Ginza (4 chome), which does not stop at Tokyo station. The fare is 200 yen.
( Nihon Keizai Shimbun September 28, 2004 )
3.Business Deployment of MCFC
(1) Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Ltd. (MHI)
Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Ltd. received an order for whole plant, the largest food waste treatment facility in the country from Bio Energy Co., Ltd. and began the real construction works. MHI got the site of 4,800 m2 at Jonan Island, Otaku, Tokyo and started the real on-site construction works from July, 2004. The total budget for the business is about 3.9 billion yen including the expense for the site and the development and the facility will be completed by the end of fiscal year 2004. The plant will treat 110 T/D of garbage to generate digester gas by using fermentation reactor and the business will be developed by combining with 250 kW MCFC power plant made by FuelCell Energy Inc. in USA, and generating and selling electric power.
( The Chemical Daily September 1, 2004 )
(2) Marubeni Corporation and Kawasaki Heavy Industries, Ltd.(KHI)
Marubeni Corporation will develop MCFC power plant made by FuelCell Energy Inc. in cooperation with Kawasaki Heavy Industries, Ltd. Also, Marubeni Corporation established gFuel Cell Japan Co., Ltdh, specializing for maintenance in August 2004. Both companies will start the fabrication and assembling of MCFC power plant in fiscal year 2005. They will install the 250 kW MCFC plant at Akashi Works, KHI within this year and begin to develop an unit with Japanese original specifications and want to realize domestic production of MCFC within a year. And two engineers from FuelCell Energy Inc. would be permanently stationed at Fuel Cell Japan Co., Ltd.
( Nihon Keizai Shimbun September 8, 2004 )
4.Technology Development and Business Deployment of SOFC
(1) Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Ltd. (MHI)
Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Ltd. received an order for whole plant, the largest food waste treatment facility in the country from Bio Energy Co., Ltd. and began the real construction works. MHI got the site of 4,800 m2 at Jonan Island, Otaku, Tokyo and started the real on-site construction works from July, 2004. The total budget for the business is about 3.9 billion yen including the expense for the site and the development and the facility will be completed by the end of fiscal year 2004. The plant will treat 110 T/D of garbage to generate digester gas by using fermentation reactor and the business will be developed by combining with 250 kW MCFC power plant made by FuelCell Energy Inc. in USA, and generating and selling electric power.
( The Chemical Daily September 1, 2004 )
(2) Marubeni Corporation and Kawasaki Heavy Industries, Ltd.(KHI)
Marubeni Corporation will develop MCFC power plant made by FuelCell Energy Inc. in cooperation with Kawasaki Heavy Industries, Ltd. Also, Marubeni Corporation established gFuel Cell Japan Co., Ltdh, specializing for maintenance in August 2004. Both companies will start the fabrication and assembling of MCFC power plant in fiscal year 2005. They will install the 250 kW MCFC plant at Akashi Works, KHI within this year and begin to develop an unit with Japanese original specifications and want to realize domestic production of MCFC within a year. And two engineers from FuelCell Energy Inc. would be permanently stationed at Fuel Cell Japan Co., Ltd.
( Nihon Keizai Shimbun September 8, 2004 )
5.Research and Development of Elemental Technologies for PEMFC
(1) Tokyo Institute of Technology
Professor Osaka and his group, Graduate School of Science and Engineering, Tokyo Institute of Technology, confirmed that a material combined cobalt complex with manganese oxide plays role of catalyst taking the place of platinum for cathode of PEMFC or DMFC. Static potentiality for oxidation and reduction is equivalent to platinum although the dynamic potentiality is inferior to platinum. The researcher said that there is a possibility to indicate superior performance to platinum if the structure and the particle size is controlled at nano-level.
( Nikkei Sangyo Shimbun August 30, 2004 )
(2) The National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST)
AIST announced that they developed a new high performance catalyst to take the place of platinum-ruthenium alloy. It is to use organic metal complex as supplemental catalyst for platinum, which metal such as vanadium, nickel or iron is combined with organic compound. It is an electrode catalyst having durability for 100 ppm CO. The production process is to mix platinum compound and organic metal complex and to load the mixed material on carbon particle and then sinter them. Although the function or the principle is under study, they guess the reason as one hypothesis, which the electron state of platinum is changed by making compound under the process of heat treatment of organic metal complex. Cost of PEMFC including reforming process can be reduced sharply if this technology is commercialized.
( Nihon Keizai Shimbun, Nikkei Sangyo Shimbun, Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun, The Chemical Daily September 17, 2004 )
(3) Japan Atomic Energy Research Institute, Tokyo University
Research group of Takasaki Research Institute, JAERI and Tokyo University announced that they developed an electrolyte membrane for PEMFC, which can keep the performance even at low humidity. The feature of this fluorine membrane is to be irradiated and connected more sulfonic acid moleculars than conventional. Ion conductivity has been improved 4 times in case of experiment at 80 and 70% relative humidity in comparison with polymer electrolyte. And chemical reaction process must be repeated in order to connect sulfonic acid in case of conventional membrane. However, only irradiation is used to connect sulfonic acid in case of new membrane and it is expected to reduce cost.
( Nikkei Sangyo Shimbun September 28, 2004 )
(4) Asahi Glass Co., Ltd.
Asahi Glass announced that they succeeded to develop MEA (Membrane Electrode Assembly) improved remarkably the durability for high temperature. The newly developed membrane has been improved the decay rate at high temperature of 120 down to 1/100 or 1/1000 in comparison with conventional, which is defined as dissolution quantity of fluorine ion. This made continuous operation possible longer than 2,000 hours. It is expected that operation temperature of PEMFC can be increased steeply and they intend to present samples to plural automotive fabricators and ask them to evaluate it.
( Nihon Keizai Shimbun, Nikkei Sangyo Shimbun, Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun September 29, 2004 )
6.Development, Demonstration and Business Deployment of PEMFC for Home and Commercial Use
(1) Tokyo Institute of Technology
Professor Osaka and his group, Graduate School of Science and Engineering, Tokyo Institute of Technology, confirmed that a material combined cobalt complex with manganese oxide plays role of catalyst taking the place of platinum for cathode of PEMFC or DMFC. Static potentiality for oxidation and reduction is equivalent to platinum although the dynamic potentiality is inferior to platinum. The researcher said that there is a possibility to indicate superior performance to platinum if the structure and the particle size is controlled at nano-level.
( Nikkei Sangyo Shimbun August 30, 2004 )
(2) The National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST)
AIST announced that they developed a new high performance catalyst to take the place of platinum-ruthenium alloy. It is to use organic metal complex as supplemental catalyst for platinum, which metal such as vanadium, nickel or iron is combined with organic compound. It is an electrode catalyst having durability for 100 ppm CO. The production process is to mix platinum compound and organic metal complex and to load the mixed material on carbon particle and then sinter them. Although the function or the principle is under study, they guess the reason as one hypothesis, which the electron state of platinum is changed by making compound under the process of heat treatment of organic metal complex. Cost of PEMFC including reforming process can be reduced sharply if this technology is commercialized.
( Nihon Keizai Shimbun, Nikkei Sangyo Shimbun, Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun, The Chemical Daily September 17, 2004 )
(3) Japan Atomic Energy Research Institute, Tokyo University
Research group of Takasaki Research Institute, JAERI and Tokyo University announced that they developed an electrolyte membrane for PEMFC, which can keep the performance even at low humidity. The feature of this fluorine membrane is to be irradiated and connected more sulfonic acid moleculars than conventional. Ion conductivity has been improved 4 times in case of experiment at 80 and 70% relative humidity in comparison with polymer electrolyte. And chemical reaction process must be repeated in order to connect sulfonic acid in case of conventional membrane. However, only irradiation is used to connect sulfonic acid in case of new membrane and it is expected to reduce cost.
( Nikkei Sangyo Shimbun September 28, 2004 )
(4) Asahi Glass Co., Ltd.
Asahi Glass announced that they succeeded to develop MEA (Membrane Electrode Assembly) improved remarkably the durability for high temperature. The newly developed membrane has been improved the decay rate at high temperature of 120 down to 1/100 or 1/1000 in comparison with conventional, which is defined as dissolution quantity of fluorine ion. This made continuous operation possible longer than 2,000 hours. It is expected that operation temperature of PEMFC can be increased steeply and they intend to present samples to plural automotive fabricators and ask them to evaluate it.
( Nihon Keizai Shimbun, Nikkei Sangyo Shimbun, Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun September 29, 2004 )
7.The Front of FCV
(1) Iwatani International Corporation
Iwatani announced on September 10, 2004 that they will conduct long distance running test of FCV on September 15, 2004 under cooperation with gOsaka FCV Promotion Committeeh consisted of 11 organizations including Osaka Prefecture, Osaka City and private companies. 2 FCV, FCHV made by Toyota and FCX made by Honda will be run between Tokyo and Osaka and they leave Tokyo Metropolitan Government to Osaka Prefectural Government on September 15, 2004 and leave Osaka Prefectural Government on September 21, by using highways of Tomei and Meisin. Special carrier loaded transportable hydrogen station, owned by Iwatani, will run in a line at the same time.
( Mainichi Shimbun September 10 and 16, 2004, The Daily Automotive News September 11 and 16, Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun September 14, 2004, Yomiuri Shimbun, Asahi Shimbun September 16, 2004 )
(2) Yamaha Motor Co., Ltd.
Yamaha announced on September 22, 2004 that they started running test of FC motor bicycle, gFC06PROTOh driven by DMFC (Yamaha DMFC system) on public road. They obtained the number plate to conduct the test from Minato-ku (ward), Tokyo and Iwata City, Sizuoka Prefecture. They will put it on market within 2005.
( Yomiuri Shimbun, Mainichi Shimbun, Nihon Keizai Shimbun, Sankei Shimbun, Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun September 23, 2004 )
(3) JARI, Engineering Advancement Association of Japan (ENAA)
JARI (Japan Automobile Research Institute) and ENAA will take place an event of FCV for 2 days, October 9 – 10 at Osaka. They will collect 6 FCV from Japan and foreign countries and carry on various events such as parade, trial driving, lecture and construction of model car.
( Nikkei Sangyo Shimbun September 24, 2004, The Daily Automotive News September 25, 2004 )
8.Technology and Construction of Hydrogen Station for FCV
Nippon Denko Co., Ltd. received an order of pure water production facility for hydrogen station to charge hydrogen into FCV, which they have experiences for industrial use. They intend to launch real sales activity.
( Nihon Keizai Shimbun September 6, 2004 )
9.Development of New Application for FC
Ebara Corporation announced on August 30, 2004 that they developed emergency power source system for traffic signal using hydrogen fuel PEMFC. Ebara will install it at a crossing in Meguro-ku, Tokyo and conduct the demonstration test from September 1, 2004 under cooperation with Japan Traffic Management Technology Association. Cylinder stores 7 Nm3 hydrogen and the output power is 1 kW and the system can supply power for 24 hours. Diesel engine power generator has been mainly used as emergency power source for traffic signal so far and 3,700 units have been installed all over the nation. And it can be reborn into environmentally friendly traffic signal by replacing the diesel engine into FC and combining with LED (Light Emitting Diode).
( Nihon Keizai Shimbun, Nikkei Sangyo Shimbun, Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun August 31, 2004 )
10.Hydrogen Production and Development of Reforming Technology
(1) PEC (Petroleum Energy Center )
PEC announced that they have conducted life evaluation test of kerosene reforming catalyst for PEMFC at Research Institute of Idemitsu Kosan Co., Ltd. under cooperation with Idemitsu Kosan Co., Ltd. and the operation exceeded 30,000 hours. It is ruthenium catalyst called as ISR-7G and used for steam reforming. The catalyst has continuously reformed kerosene on market for more than 30,000 hours, removed sulfur to less than 0.02 ppm and it has indicated no performance decay for the duration. Final target life of the catalyst is 40,000 hours and Idemitsu intends to continue the test as their independent research after 2005 and attain the target.
( Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun, The Chemical Daily September 2, 2004, Nikkei Sangyo Shimbun September 6, 2004 )
(2) J Power
Electric Power Development Co., Ltd. (J Power) started a development of hydrogen supply system to take hydrogen out of DME (Di-Methyl Ether), under cooperation with Sumitomo Seika Chemicals Co., Ltd. They will install the small test facility by summer 2005 at Himeji Works, Sumitomo Seika Chemicals and start the field test operation. This system will reform DME at 400, supplied 10 m3/h from the Himeji Works and produce hydrogen of 30 m3/h. DME can be produced from various fuels such as coal, natural gas and biomass and it is clean fuel because the sulfur content is zero and it produces less CO2.
( Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun September 3, 2004 )
(3) Ebara Corporation and Others
Ebara has developed a technology to take hydrogen out of byproduct in ethylene production process, under cooperation with Maruzen Petrochemical Co., Ltd. and Toyo Engineering Corporation. Although the ethylene is produced by cracking naphtha which is produced by distillation of petroleum, byproduct called as ethylene bottom is generated in the production process. The developed technology is a process to put the ethylene bottom into gasifier to decompose waste at high temperature at the first, proprietary by Ebara and crack it and to vaporize naphtha and kerosene contained in it and then to convert it into hydrogen by reformer owned by Toyo Engineering. Tar produced at the gasification process is burned. Byproduct is 250 T/D in case of average ethylene production plant and hydrogen of 500,000 m3 can be produced by treating the byproduct.
Although hydrogen used in petroleum refinery is produced from naphtha now, it is expected to be able to reduce oil consumption as feedstock and the production cost if the byproduct can be utilized effectively. The domestic production of the byproduct is 700,000 ton and application of hydrogen would be expanded if this can be converted into hydrogen. They will construct the demonstration facility at domestic petrochemical plant in 2006 by investing 3 – 5 billion yen and construct the commercial production plant in 2008, which capacity is 200 – 300 T/D.
( Nihon Keizai Shimbun September 23, 2004 )
11.Development of Hydrogen Storing Technology
The National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST) has developed synthesis technology of organic hydrogen storing material by combining supercritical CO2 and rhodium catalyst. Shirai, Team Leader of Organic Reaction, Supercritical Fluid Research Center, AIST succeeded to convert naphthalene into decalin at 100% rate in conversion and also selectivity by using supercritical CO2 and rhodium catalyst and making hydrogenation reaction with naphthalene at 60. The catalyst surface is cleaned up by solvent effect of supercritical CO2 and therefore, the catalyst can be used repeatedly and for long time. The reaction products can be separated easily and the catalyst and the CO2 can be recovered without difficulty. Saturated cyclic hydrocarbon such as decalin or cyclohexane release hydrogen when they are converted into naphthalene or benzene. One molecule of decalin can store hydrogen of 5 molecules ( 100 g of decalin stores 8 g of hydrogen) and this has an excellent characteristics in safety and is expected as hydrogen storing material.
( Nikkei Sangyo Shimbun, The Chemical Daily September 21, 2004 )
12.Development of Micro FC
(1) Material & Energy Research Institute Tokyo, Ltd.
Material & Energy Research Institute Tokyo, Ltd. developed the minimum size class micro FC for note type personal computer. The minimum unit of the basic structure is 3 cm length, 2 cm width and 1 mm thickness, and 5 g in weight. 50 pieces are stacked to provide power of 25 W for note type personal computer. A liquid fuel, sodium borohydride dissolved in alkaline solution is used, and the fuel feeding equipment is provided as the accessory. Comparing to methanol, 4 times power out put per unit area is available even at ambient temperature. President Suda said that it can be commercialized at less than 10,000 yen including the accessory, because expensive catalyst such as platinum is not used for the electrode.
( Nihon Keizai Shimbun September 7, 2004 )
(2) NTT DoCoMo, Inc.
NTT DoCoMo announced on September 30, 2004 that they manufactured a proto type DMFC (190 g in weight) for the third generation cell phone, gFOMAh. At the current stage, the power equivalent to one charge can be provided to FOMA connector. They plan to commercialize it by 2006, after increasing the power equivalent to 4 time charges. NTT DoCoMo has been entrusting the development of micro FC for FOMA to Fujitsu Laboratories Ltd., and the development of the FC to be externally connected to the cell phone is expected to be concluded by the end of 2005.
( Nihon Keizai Shimbun, Sankei Shimbun, Nikkei Sangyo Shimbun, Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun October 1, 2004 )
(3) Matsushita Electric Industrial Co., Ltd.
Matsushita Electric Industrial Co., Ltd. manufactured a proto type small size FC powered by sugar and succeeded the power generation. The manufactured FC is a coin shape and is 5 cm in diameter and 2 cm in thickness, and an enzyme to decompose sugar is added on the electrode (negative). In the decomposing process of sugar into water and CO2, electrons are discharged (oxidation) and the electrons are transferred to positive electrode through external circuit. Fine particles of titanium oxide are also added on the electrode and decomposing reaction of sugar is accelerated by irradiating a light. They succeeded the power generation of about 300 W by the experiment, which is equivalent to 1/4 of size AAA battery. This power level is equivalent to the power to drive a heart pace maker. The sugar is safe and easy to procure and carry, therefore, the company said that the sugar in body is also available as the fuel and it can be utilized as a power source for heart pace maker in the future.
( Nihon Keizai Shimbun October 1, 2004 )
13.Instrument Technologies Related to FC and Hydrogen
(1) OMRON Corporation
OMRON starts to deliver flow sensor which can detect small gas flow, for domestic FC. Small gas flow velocity less than 1 cm/s can be measured, and they plan to market it as flow measurement of fuel and air for the FC.
( Nikkei Sangyo Shimbun September 6, 2004 )
(2) Mie Prefectural Science and Technology Promotion Center
Mie Prefectural Science and Technology Promotion Center developed the technology to increase sensitivity of CO gas sensor to more than ten times. In case of most gas leakage sensors for domestic use, the electrodes are covered by thin film made of tin oxide particles, 1`10 m in diameter. In case of the new technology, an organic compound of polyethylene glycol is mixed into tin solution when to form the tin oxide thin film and the sensor element is sintered at about 800 to fix tin thin film, however, the particle size becomes about 0.01m in diameter because the polyethylene glycol prevents the tin oxide particles to connect each other. As the result, the number of particles in unit area increases and the gas detecting area also expands, therefore, the sensitivity increases. Mie Prefecture plans to commercialize this technology as gas sensor for PEFC.
( Nikkei Sangyo Shimbun September 8, 2004 )
(3) Yokohama National University
Professor Mizuguchi, Graduate School of Engineering, Yokohama National University and Toyo Ink Engineering Corporation jointly developed high sensitivity hydrogen sensor which works at ambient temperature. This is a gas sensor using the derivative of pyro-pyrrole system pigment (DPP) which is an organic pigment having strong affinity for hydrogen ion, and detects hydrogen with high sensitivity by utilizing a phenomenon reduced electric resistance when to be combined with hydrogen ion. The element structure is simple, which is comb type transparent electrode formed on the DPP film, and catalyst such as palladium or platinum is included. Having the hydrogen selectivity to reduce electric resistance by double figures for 0.1 % hydrogen concentration at ambient temperature, response speed is excellent as some millisecond. The structure of element is simple and mass production at low cost is expected.
( The Chemical Daily September 9, 2004 )
(4) CHINO Corporation
CHINO expands rate consisted of their own brand products for FC evaluation system. In parallel with elemental development such as sensor, CHINO starts developments for equipments required for the evaluation system and also instruments to measure the FC performances. The company is delivering 100-200 W compact type and gFC500 seriesh of high function type as the standard equipments for evaluation system, and will newly put the short stack type into market to evaluate larger capacity from 1 to 10 kW. As the object of FC evaluation have been shifting from performance to durability, they plan to entrust continuous operation test with the 3rd party organization. From now, the company will proceed with developments of standard equipments for SOFC and micro DMFC, as well as developments of elemental technologies such as fuel reforming and humidifying.
( Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun September 20, 2004 )
14.FC Related Business
(1) FC service business by volunteer
5 FC experts including managers of companies and engineering consultants, established an organization to support FC business of minor enterprises. For the first step of the business scheduled by April 2005, they will publish the hand book with supporting soft ware useful for FC research and development from Ohmsha, Ltd. Ascertaining customerfs needs, they will conduct technology transfer service and business consultation. This organization has been established with the representative, Professor Homma, executive director of FCDIC. Starting as a voluntary organization and giving membership to sympathetic members by registration system responding to the business expansion, they will support minor enterprises who want to launch FC business, from soft ware side by providing the skill of the members and the human relation net work.
( Denki Shimbun September 10, 2004 )
(2) Kitagawa Industries Co., Ltd.
Kitagawa Industries Co., Ltd. concluded business alliance agreement with gInstitut Zuverlassigkeit unt Mikrointegration (IZM)h, the fine processing department of semiconductor of German public research institute, gFraunhoferh. Kitagawa can intermediate the technical license of micro pump for DMFC developed by the institute, in Japan, China and Taiwan, and also will be marketing agent. This pump is a component necessary to adjust liquid flow rate in FC.
( Nikkan Kogyo, Chunichi Shimbun September 23, 2004, Nikkei Sangyo Shimbun September 24, 2004 )