Arranged by T. HOMMA
1.Government Policy and Activity
2.Policy and Activity in Local Government
3.Research and Development of SOFC
4.Research and Development of Elemental Technologies for PEMFC and DMFC
5.Commercialization of PEMFC for Domestic Use
6.The Front of FCV
7.Reforming and Hydrogen Production Technology
8.Technology Development concerning Hydrogen Storage
9.Development of Micro FC Related Technologies
10.Energy System Integrated FC
11.Measurement Technology related to FC

1.Government Policy and Activity
(1) Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry
Energy Supply and Demand Subcommittee, Advisory Committee for Natural Resources and Energy decided the interim report on gLong-Term Outlook for Energy Supply and Demandh to 2030. The report forecasts that the energy demand will reach the highest point and change to decrease in fiscal year 2021 because of decrease in population, advanced industrial structure and economic maturity. As for the new energies, Special Measures Law Concerning the Use of New Energy by Electric Utilities (RPS: Renewable Portfolio Standard) will be continued even after fiscal year 2010 and solar cell will be increased. Therefore the total new energies will reach to equivalent level to about 19.02 million kL as the planned introduction target by fiscal year 2030, but the fuel cell would be a range as trial introduction limited to the 120 thousands kW by fiscal year 2030.
( Kensetsu-Tsushin Shimbun October 5, 2004 )
2.Policy and Activity in Local Government
(1) Tokyo Metropolitan Government
Tokyo Government stopped the operation of metropolitan FCB (Fuel Cell Bus) due to maintenance works by Toyota Motor Corporation, which has been introduced in August, 2003 and planned to operate until December 24, 2004. Toyota Motor Corporation recalled the FCB with other sixteen FCV because of a trouble of hydrogen leakage happened at high pressure hydrogen tank for FCV, as the structure is the same as the FCV.
( Mainichi Shimbun, Tokyo Shimbun October 19, 2004, Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun October 20, 2004 )
(2) Syunan City, Yamaguchi Prefecture
Private companies in the Syunan Industrial Complex, who have promoted a plan for mutual interchange of electricity and heat, based on Special Designated Zone for Structural Reform by the Government, newly aim at the mutual interchange of hydrogen. The second meeting of the Hydrogen-FC Demonstration Committee in Yamaguchi Prefecture was held on October 19, 2004, which was a nucleus to promote the plan to make the Syunan City gHydrogen Townh, who is the highest hydrogen production city now in Japan, and the proposal was acknowledged to advance the research to make up the basic plan. Shortages and surpluses of hydrogen will be leveled by connecting plural companies in the complex with hydrogen pipeline. The test is also planned to confirm the safety of hydrogen supply system including the piping material.
( Chugoku Shimbun October 20, 2004 )
(3) Mie Prefecture
GS Yuasa Power Supply Ltd., other companies in the prefecture and Mie University conduct together a verification test which electricity, heat and CO2 produced by DMFC will be utilized to grow up strawberry as the subsidy project of Mie Prefecture. A strawberry farmhouses in Suzuka City cooperate and offer the vinyl plastic hothouse of ga tanh (about 990 m2) as the test site. The plan is to promote the growth of the strawberry by lighting the vinyl house for two or three hours at the evening and the early morning to increase daytime hours, using electric power generated by 1 kW DMFC, and keeping higher temperature in the house by utilizing exhausted heat and introducing CO2 inside.
( Chunichi Shimbun October 30, 2004 )
3.Research and Development of SOFC
President Nakagaki, Electric Power Development Co., Ltd. (J-POWER) announced that they have a plan to tackle with the commercialization of a new power generation system combining coal-fired power plant and SOFC as soon as possible. He emphasized that energy efficiency of the coal-fired power plant can be improved from 41% now to 60% if this plan would be realized, and the exhaust of CO2 could be reduced drastically.
( Fuji-Sankei Business Eye October 15, 2004 )
4.Research and Development of Elemental Technologies for PEMFC and DMFC
(1) National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and others
The National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST), Tokyo Gas Co., Ltd., Osaka Gas Co., Ltd., Nippon Oil Corporation, Matsushita Electric Industrial Co., Ltd., Toshiba International Fuel Cells Corporation and SANYO Electric Co., Ltd. start a joint research to make a decay of PEMFC stack clear for three and a half years from fiscal year 2004 to 2007. They will apply for the Basic Research for Decay Analysis project by NEDO and start this after getting authorization within this week. The development budget would be a little less than 4 billion yen. To be concrete, Kansai Collaboration Center, AIST is taking the lead and two largest gas utility companies who want to commercialize natural gas reforming PEMFC by using monitor system from 2005 and Nippon Oil Corporation who tackles with LPG reforming PEMFC and three stack manufacturers take a part in the project. They intend to establish the technologies to evaluate and analyze the long-term decay mechanism by analyzing the early stage decay phenomena for the important stack parts such as electrode catalyst, electrolyte membrane and separator after a planned continuous operation. They intend to prepare for the real spread from fiscal year 2008 by utilizing these results of research and participating the monitor project to be conducted by the Government.
( Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun October 7, 2004, Denki Shimbun, The Chemical Daily October 8, 2004 )
(2) Asahi Glass Co., Ltd.
Asahi Glass will install semi-commercial production facility of fluorine system MEA (Membrane Electrode Assembly) for PEMFC. This is to increase capacity of existing pilot plant installed at their Central Research Institute in Yokohama and the scale is about 2 times in comparison with the current capacity as pilot plant. They intend to commercialize within 2–3 years, attaining breakthroughs for subjects including the durability under high temperature and establishing mass production technology by increased capacity of production facility and also evaluation technology for commercial size. They plan to introduce a test and evaluation facility fabricated by Hydrogenics Corporation in December 2004 and start the real durability test of MEA from 2005.
( The Chemical Daily October 15, 2004, Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun October 21, 2004 )
JAPAN GORE-TEX Inc. developed a new MEA and gas diffusion layer improved durability and reliability. The durability and the reliability have been improved by improving the each component material and the strength and the stability in dimension have been improved in spite of the thin membrane and fluorine ion permeation through membrane has been decreased to 1/10 by reinforcing ion exchange membrane using PTFE. It has an effect to suppress cross over. The gas diffusion layer has appropriate performance for high density at low humidity and for diffusion which is a feature of cloth by devising the production method based on paper material.
( The Chemical Daily October 20, 2004 )
(4) The National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST)
AIST developed a process to decompose organic fluorine compound which is chemically stable and not decomposed in the natural world, by using photo catalyst. The effect has been confirmed by an experiment using perfluoro-octane acid, a kind of organic fluorine compound. 22 mL of water solution including this chemical compound at 560 ppm is mixed with liquid photo catalyst of hetero-poly-acid and oxygen gas and irradiated ultraviolet and visible light for 24 hours. As the result, the compound has been decomposed to less than the detection limit.
( Nikkei Sangyo Shimbun, The Chemical Daily October 29, 2004 )
5.Commercialization of PEMFC for Domestic Use
(1) Toho Gas Co., Ltd.
Toho Gas announced that they will put PEMFC cogeneration system for home use on market at the end of 2005. The stack will be selected from products made by such companies as Toyota Motor Corporation, AISIN SEIKI Co., Ltd., Ebara Ballard Corporation and Matsushita Electric Industrial Co., Ltd. They will conduct demonstration test from now and select their partner from the makers in the middle of 2005. They will introduce it into market as monitoring system first and then expand the market gradually.
( Nihon Keizai Shimbun, Denki Shimbun, Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun October 8, 2004 )
(2) KANDENKO Co., Ltd.
Kandenko has introduced stationary PEMFC of 3.7 kW as power output and 6.3 kW as thermal output into their Urawa Dormitory in Urawa Ward, Saitama City and been conducting the demonstration test now. They confirmed it can cover 25 % of total electric demand according to the actually measured results.
( Denki Shimbun, Nikkan Kensetsu Kogyo Shimbun October 25, 2004 )
6.The Front of FCV
(1) JHFC (Japan Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Demonstration Project)
Japan Automobile Research Institute (JARI) and Engineering Advancement Association of Japan (ENAA) participated gMidosuji Parade 2004h held at Osaka City in a link of the JHFC project and the demonstration parade of 3.3 km from Yodoyabashi crossing to Nanba has been carried out by the newest 6 FCV made by domestic and foreign companies. Participated FCV are FCHV of Toyota Motor Corporation, X-Trail FCV of Nissan Motor Co., Ltd., FCX of Honda Motor Co., Ltd., F-Cell of Daimler Chrysler, Hydrogen 3 of General Motors Corporation and FCHV-BUS 2 jointly developed by Toyota and Hino Motors, Ltd.
( The Daily Automotive News October 14, 2004 )
(2) Mitsubishi Motor Corporation
Mitsubishi intends to reexamine their joint development projects with Daimler Chrysler and draw a line between the 2 companies even for FCV. They plan to install their own FC system on next FCV to be completed in 2005 although they load FC system developed by Daimler Chrysler and stack fabricated by Ballard Power Systems, Inc. on their minivan FCV gGRANDISh currently being conducted the running test on public road. They will establish a direct relation with Ballard from next vehicle, not to import through Daimler Chrysler, although they will use the PEMFC made by Ballard.
( Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun October 14, 2004 )
(3) Toyota Auto Body Co., Ltd.
Toyota Auto Body Co., Ltd. developed gFC COMSh cooperatively with AISHIN AW Co., Ltd., one seat FCV loaded small hydrogen tank. Secondary battery is provided to store regenerated energy and this FCV can drive 100 km with one hydrogen charge. Kenaf is used as the raw material for the body and consideration to environmental aspect is perfectly taken.
( Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun October 18, 2004, Chunichi Shimbun October 20, 2004, Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun October 26, 2004 )
(4) General Motors Corporation (GM)
Larry Burns, Vice President of GM showed a prospect that FCV will be mass produced by 2010 with a price which general citizen can get in their hand at the interview by Nihon Keizai Shimbun and Chunichi Shimbun. And he also stated that hydrogen storage technology to be loaded on the car was a problem, but, they will aim at 500 km as the final target of driving distance with one hydrogen charge as the technology has been progressed remarkably in recent years.
( Nihon Keizai Shimbun, Chunichi Shimbun October 23, 2004 )
7.Reforming and Hydrogen Production Technology
(1) Hokkaido University
The group of Assistant Professor Tsuji, Hokkaido University succeeded to extract hydrogen effectively from plastics. They crack plastics such as polyethylene and polystyrene into cracked oil at 400 and the cracked oil is reacted with ambient pressure steam at 800 by using catalyst of nickel loaded on aluminum oxide. Among hydrogen component included in the cracked oil, 97-99% could be extracted as hydrogen gas. The reactor used for the test was silicon pipe of 10 mm in diameter, and they will conduct a research toward commercialization, by improving the reactor to large size.
( Nikkei Sangyo Shimbun October 5, 2004 )
(2) Hiroshima University and others
Sapporo Breweries Ltd., Shimadzu Corporation and Hiroshima University announced on October 7, 2004 that they succeeded to develop the technology gHydrogen-Methane 2 Stage Fermentation Technologyh to produce hydrogen efficiently from wasted bread, utilizing microbe. The new technology is such that hydrogen and methane are produced separately, installing hydrogen fermentation process at the previous stage of the general methane fermentation by microbe. The microbe group for hydrogen fermentation is superior to dissolve solid organic materials such as bread crumbs and 10% more energy as the heat value can be taken out within 1/4 of the processing hours in comparison with the methane fermentation only. Continuous operation for 6 month has been conducted using 30 L fermentation reactor. Approximately 100 L hydrogen can be produced from 1kg bread with this process. As this process is effective for other foods or agricultural and forestry waste, Sapporo Breweries Ltd. has started the demonstration test with the plant with 700 L fermentation reactor at The Frontier Laboratories of Value Creation and they intend to commercialize within 2 years.
( Yomiuri Shimbun, Mainich Shimbun, Nihon Keizai Shimbun, Sankei Shimbun, Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun October 8, 2004 )
(3) National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology
Chief Researcher Sato and his group, National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology developed the technology to remove sulfur components included in naphtha effectively. The process is that sulfur components are removed by using adsorbent, silica gel after naphtha is reacted with hydrogen peroxide and organic solvent having hydrophilicity. Although the sulfur concentration has been limited to 1 ppm with the existing technology, it could be reduced to lower than 1/100 by this process.
( Nikkei Sangyo Shimbun October 27, 2004 )
8.Technology Development concerning Hydrogen Storage
Japan Energy Corporation has been researching hydrogen storage technology utilizing organic hydride. Catalysts are used to promote reactions with hydrogen being adsorbed into and desorbed from organic hydride and the performances of these catalysts which do not decay for long term operation, have been required to extract hydrogen continuously. The company developed the new catalyst of extremely small amount of platinum loaded on aluminum oxide this time, and they confirmed that the performance did not decay for longer than 2700 hours operation by the verification test.
( Nikkei Sangyo Shimbun October 25, 2004 )
9.Development of Micro FC Related Technologies
(1) Muroran Institute of Technology
Professor Watanabe, Muroran Institute of Technology, developed portable FC of 20 W which generates both power and hydrogen at room temperature. This FC consists of 2 parts, that are power generation part integrating 20 fuel cells and hermetic hydrogen production and storage tank part to generate hydrogen by reaction of aluminum fine particles with water. The power generation efficiency has been improved by containing oxygen enriching membrane which increases the oxygen concentration of intake air up to 25 %, and further more, arranging 9 pieces of thin gel electrolyte membranes each. The prototype unit can be operated for 20 hours continuously by feeding 40 g aluminum fine particles and 60 cc water. Aluminum fine particles can be stored at ambient temperature by containing it in bag blanketed with nitrogen gas, as it chemically reacts even with small water and it is considered to have to be stored in refrigerator. Utilizing waste aluminum, the fuel cost of the micro FC can be reduced to a half of methanol. Now, 4 major manufactures are hoping to commercialize this technology, and the Professor said gCommercialization would be launched by constructing the factory at Muroran City by April 2005h, proceeding with development for commercialization technologies including improvement of oxygen enriching membrane to increase the oxygen concentration up to 50 %.
( Hokkaido Shimbun October 10 and 13, 2004 )
(2) NEC Corporation
NEC announced on October 19, 2004 that NEC developed FC integrated note type PC, by improving power generation efficiency of micro FC and down sizing. The FC is installed at the bottom of PC by making the FC thinner, although it has been installed on the back of the display so far. And the methanol fuel cartridge (250 cc) is contained in the body. The feature is an self control system integrated in FC unit. Though the continuous operating hours is about 10 hours now, they plan to commercialize it by around 2007 by extending the life up to 40 hours in the future.
( Nihon Keizai Shimbun, Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun, The Chemical Daily, Fuji Sankei Business Eye, October 20, 2004 )
STAR MICRONICS developed a prototype of micro pump, gSDMP 205h which is small capacity and thin body type. This pump is a diaphragm type utilizing piezoelectric element and they plan to apply it for micro FC because they have improved the chemical resistance to methanol.
( Dempa Shimbun October 23, 2004, Shizuoka Shimbun October 29, 2004 )
(4) Material & Energy Research Institute Tokyo Ltd.
Material & Energy Research Institute Tokyo (Chino City) whose president is Professor Suda, announced on October 28, 2004 that they developed a compact and efficient MFC (Micro Fuel Cell) for note type PC. The prototype FC is thin type, 3 cm in length, 2 cm in width and 3 mm in thickness, and gboron hydrideh, sodium boron hydride solution of which the raw material is gboraxh, crystal of sodium borate, is utilized for hydrogen storage material. The boron hydride can be used at ambient temperature and it is safe for utilization because no hydrogen is generated even if it is vaporized. The Professor said that competitive price to lithium battery can be realized as the fuel would be supplied with a simple system like ink injector of ink jet printer and relatively cheap alloy will be utilized for electrode. Now technology transfer contracts have been negotiated with 2 European and US companies and it is expected to be signed within this year.
( Shinano Mainichi Shimbun October 29, 2004 )
10.Energy System Integrated FC
SAN-ESU DENKI TSUSIN Co., Ltd., Hokkaido University and Hokkaido Industrial Research Institute jointly developed a combined system which integrates wind power and FC, by October 14, 2004. Storing electric power generated by the wind power of 2 kW into a battery and generating 200 l/h hydrogen by electrolysis of water, and then they produce power of 850 W output by operating FC co-generation system. The demonstration test will be started from October at Atsuta Mura, Ishikari District. In addition to power sources for dairy farms, applications to road heating and lighting could be expected as power sources in regions where utility grid is not available.
( Hokkaido Shimbun October 15, 2004 )
11.Measurement Technology related to FC
EIWA Corporation (Osaka City), FC Development Co., Ltd. (Hitachi City) and ICON Co., Ltd. (Osaka Prefecture) jointly developed the facility which is able to inspect defective FC products efficiently. As the voltage and resistance can be measured efficiently with speed more than 60 times in comparison with conventional system, efficiency of inspection for defective products could be improved remarkably. The trade name is gFCV-1000h and the size is 431 mm in width, 450 mm in depth and 199 mm in height and the price is 1.2 million yen. They plan to sell 50 units by March 2005.
( Nikkei Sangyo Shimbun October 18, 2004, Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun October 19, 2004 )