(1) Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry
Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry will start a project to support small-to-medium sized enterprises to be able to take part in developments of fuel cell. They intend to make a concrete list of parts and processing technologies which fuel cell manufacturers need and support the small-to-medium sized enterprises having the above technologies for the manufacturing and back up them to realize the cooperative development and receive the order concerning fuel cell. Further, they promote to exchange information between the enterprises and foreign manufacturers. They will make a list until March, 2005 as the first step, showing the concrete specifications about the parts which fuel cell manufacturers need, such as water pump, electromagnetic valve, flow control valve and various sensors and distribute the lists to small-to-medium sized enterprises and collect the enterprises who want to challenge positively.
( Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun November 12, 2004 )
(2) Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport
Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport collects the public comments for a partial revision of safety standards on the road transport vehicles. Because they intend to make a safety and environmental standard for FCV using compressed hydrogen gas as fuel.
( The Daily Automobile News November 17, 2004 )
2. Activities on International Standardization
The Japan Electrical Manufacturesüf Association (JEMA) places great importance on activities concerning international standards for micro fuel cell used for mobile information appliance. JEMA strengthens their activities to reflect Japanese opinions and proposals to the international standards as they have been entrusted a research project from Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry and NEDO. The international standards on FC have been discussed in TC105 of IEC and its Working Group (WG). Although WG for micro FC did not exist, it has been admitted that micro FC might be separated from WG-7 (portable FC) in 2003, by a strong request from Japan. Succeeding this, working group WG-8 (safety), WG-9 (performance) and WG-10 (interchangeability) have been established successively. WG-10 was to take the chair by Japan. The fifth plenary session, IEC/TC105, was held in Tokyo in June, 2004.
( Dempa Shimbun November 1, 2004 )
3. Policy and Activity in Local Government
Shiga Prefecture made ügShiga Strategic Plan to Introduce New Energyüh to develop and introduce renewable energies such as solar energy, small water-power and biomass. The introduction target is equivalent to 186 thousands kilo-liters crude oil (fiscal year 2010) and they expect
CO2 reduction of about 240 thousand tons. Total capacity of FC newly installed would be 15.8 thousands kilo-liters.
( Denki Shimbun November 15, 2004 )
4. Business Deployment of MCFC
FuelCell Energy, Inc. in USA and Marubeni Corporation announced on November 4, 2004 that they have a plan to export the electric power generation plant of MCFC to Korea under alliance with POSCO, major steel company in Korea. As Korea has a policy to introduce large amounts of FC for electric power generation up to 2012, the three companies judged that the business chance will surely expand.
( Nihon Keizai Shimbun November 5, 2004 )
5. Research and Development on SOFC
(1) Toho Gas Co., Ltd.
Toho Gas Co., Ltd. will install a cogeneration system using SOFC under development at The 2005 World Exposition, AICHI, JAPAN and conducts the demonstration tests. This SOFC is improved of the No.1 1kW-class SOFC unit having been operated from September 2003, and the size has been reduced about 40% and the power generation efficiency has been increased from 24% to 45%. By combining a heat recovery unit using oil as heat conductive medium, it makes possible to recover the heat at 200üÄ. They intend to operate the system continuously for 24 hours and monitor the operating states remotely.
( Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun November 16, 2004, Chunichi Shimbun November 17, 2004 )
(2) Osaka Gas Co., Ltd. and Kyocera Corporation
Osaka Gas Co., Ltd. and Kyocera Corporation announced on November 24, 2004 that they will develop jointly 1kW-class SOFC cogeneration system for home use. They will start the real test from fiscal year 2005 and commercialize it around 2008. The target of the power generation efficiency developed by the two companies is aimed at 44%. According to the trial calculation by Osaka Gas Co., Ltd., 50ü`70 thousands yen a year would be saved in fuel and light expenses by using the above system. On the other hand, Kyocera Corporation has been developing SOFC for the small-sized enterprises under cooperation with Tokyo Gas Co., Ltd. and others and has a plan to commercialize it in spring of 2007.
( Yomiuri Shimbun, Asahi Shimbun, Mainichi Shimbun, Sankei Shimbun, Nihon Keizai Shimbun, Denki Shimbun, Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun November 25, 2004 )
6. Research and Development of Elemental Technology for PEMFC
(1) Technology Research Institute of Osaka Prefecture (TRI Osaka)
H. Minami, Chief Researcher and his group, Machinery and Metal Department, TRI Osaka developed a technology processing precisely and effectively hard metal (super hard alloy) which is difficult to machine, by utilizing electric discharge from electrode made of zinc alloy. Paying attention for high speed electric discharge characteristics which zinc alloy has, it is applied a precise processing technology for stainless steel. It is expected to be applied for development of separator for PEMFC from now.
If cupper mesh electrode having 0.18 mm square holes is put between hard metal and zinc alloy and electric discharge is applied, many fine rectangular poles are formed by zinc alloy passed through the mesh. The zinc alloy becomes electrode if applied reverse discharge and it can make fine holes on the object. Forming zinc alloy electrode repeatedly, they succeeded to make fifty fine holes (0.25 mm – 0.3 mm) on hard metal of 1 mm thickness for 70 minutes. And they confirmed that they can form fine flow passage (width and depth are both about 70 â╩m) on the hard metal.
(2) The National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST)
AIST developed a mass production technology with high purity and high quality single layer carbon nano tube at low cost, around 1/500 in comparison with conventional technology. The developed technology is a kind of CVD (Chemical Vapor Deposition). Thin membrane consisted of iron fine particles is formed on a base plate as catalyst and reacts with ethylene gas at 750üÄ, atmospheric pressure and make single layer carbon nano tubes grow from the base plate. The nano tube became 2.5 mm for about 10 minutes according to the experiment. This growing speed is 3,000 times in comparison with conventional technology. This single layer nano tubes have the uniformity in direction and the diameter is 1nm. Soot formation is completely suppressed by adding extremely small amount of water for reaction. The purity is 99.98% or higher and the purity is 2,000 times higher than conventional method. The fruits will be published on ügScienceüh, science magazine in USA and the samples would be available soon.
( Asahi Shimbun, Nihon Keizai Shimbun, Nikkei Sangyo Shimbun November 19, 2004 )
7.Technology Development and Business Deployment of PEMFC for Home Use
(1) Matsushita Electric Industrial Co., Ltd.
Matsushita Electric Industrial Co., Ltd. announced their business strategy on FC system for home use on November 4, 2004 that they succeeded continuous operation of 13,000 hours by their PEMFC and verified the excellent stability of the stack. This means that 3 years operation is possible without replacement of major parts and maintenance. Their system can be operated under atmospheric conditions of -5 ∼ 40üÄ and at load rage of 30 ∼ 100%. They will deliver the products to Tokyo Gas Co., Ltd. at the end of 2004 and Tokyo Gas will put it on market as lease. Hot water tank (200 L) and the main body (Power output : 1 kW) are combined as a set and the price is not yet decided. They will start the real sales from 2008 by extending the life to 40,000 hours and reducing the cost down to 500,000 yen per kW.
( Yomiuri Shimbun, Nihon Keizai Shimbun, Sankei Shimbun, Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun November 5, 2004 )
Matsushita Electric Industrial Co. integrated all members in charge of research and development for FC at Matsushita Electric Works, Ltd. into Matsushita Electric Industrial Co., Ltd., in order to unitize their development and production system toward real mass production of PEMFC. Their potentiality accumulated in the past for technology development will be integrated toward 2008 to be started real mass production. Matsushita Electric Industrial Co. will develop PEMFC system for limited mass production stage by their own technology and the future system for home use will be developed making use of the potentiality of Matsushita Electric Works, which is possible to extend the life and reduce the cost sharply.
( Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun November 17, 2004 )
(2) Hokkaido Gas Co., Ltd. and Hokkaido University
Hokkaido Gas finished demonstration test project on PEMFC system for domestic use in fiscal year 2003 and will continue the project for 3 years from 2004, by using new unit of 750 W. The plan is to generate hydrogen using solar cell and FC will be operated using the hydrogen although a part of the hydrogen will be stored into hydrogen storing alloy. The test site will be a test residence in campus of Hokkaido University.
( Hokkaido Shimbun November 17, 2004 )
(3) Toshiba Corporation
Toshiba announced on November 7 and December 1, 2004 that they will strengthen their business organization for home use FC. They will establish FC Business Development Office in Electric Power and Social System Co. and make Toshiba IFC (Joint venture company with UTCFC) 100% subsidiary and change the company name to ügToshiba FC Systemüh. The company is specialized in development, production and sales of 1 kW PEMFC for domestic market. Toshiba plans to participate in Large Scale Demonstration Project to be started from 2005 by METI (Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry) and they intend to tackle with cost reduction by mass production by delivering 100 ∼ several hundreds PEMFC units per year to the project.
( Nihon Keizai Shimbun, Denki Shimbun, Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun November 18, 2004 )
8. Reforming and Hydrogen Production Technology
(1) Juluxe Co., Ltd.
Juluxe Co., Ltd. (Kyoto City) developed pure hydrogen gas production unit, ügH2
Gas Generatorüh, which can produce hydrogen easily as far as the power source for home or car battery exist. Higher than 99% purity hydrogen gas can be produced using separation membrane. B type for direct current 100V power source from battery loaded on car produces hydrogen gas at 100 L/h and A type for power source from home produces hydrogen at 240 L/h. As the B type produces hydrogen even during driving as long as water exists, research aimed at down sizing has been proceeded with, considering application to FCV in the future. On the other hand, 800 L/h large type is under development, considering a large scale application.
( Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun November 2, 2004 )
(2) Itochu Corporation
Itochu Corporation invested in American venture capital, H2 Gen Innovations Inc., who develops small hydrogen production unit, and obtained exclusive sales right for domestic market on the hydrogen production unit the company produced of which feedstock is natural gas. The amount of investment is 1 million dollars and investment rate is 6%. They also agreed to cooperate with Tokyo Gas group to develop the product for hydrogen station for FCV from now on.
( Nihon Keizai Shimbun Novemver 2, 2004 )
(3) Liquefied Petroleum Gas Center
Liquefied Petroleum Gas Center judged that commercialization targets for desulfurization and reforming catalysts most suitable for LPG have been attained through the elemental technologies developments for LPG fueled PEMFC system developed for 5 years started from 2001. They confirmed longer than 4,000 hours desulfurization performance of combined agent between metal and zeolite. They developed steam reforming catalyst of Ru type which initial activity and durability is superior to conventional Ru catalyst on market, being considered many start and stop operation and anticipated that nearly 30 thousand hours life would be expected from the comparison test. In this technology development, they aim that the desulfurization catalyst keeps performance more than 1 year, which sulfur content in LPG after desulfurization is less than 50 ppm, and the reforming catalyst keeps the performance for more than 5 years, which reforming process efficiency is 75% under S/C less than 3. Small scale home use FC tends that sulfur concentration is increased according to the increased gas consumption as LPG is supplied with natural evaporation method, so development with high performance catalyst has been requested.
( The Chemical Daily Nov. 10, 2004 )
(4) Hagio High Pressure Vessel Co., Ltd.
Hagio High Pressure Vessel Co., Ltd. (Niihama City) developed desulfurization unit which removes sulfur compound from LPG. They intend to commercialize by March 2005. Size of the unit is 10cm in width, 10cm in length, 15cm in height and 1kg in weight. Durable stainless steel is used. Cupper ion is stuck on the body which is easily chemically bonded with sulfur compound such as hydrogen sulfide and mercaptan in LPG and desulfurization agent loaded activated carbon into nonwoven fabric is integrated. In addition to adsorbing by chemical bonding, 98% sulfur compounds in LPG of home use 50 kg cylinder can be adsorbed by adsorbing force of activated carbon. This has a feature which is cheaper than existing desulfurization unit.
( Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun November 10, 2004, Ehime Shimbun November 13, 2004 )
9. The Front of FCV
(1) Honda Motor Co., Ltd.
Honda Motor Co., Ltd. announced on November 16, 2004 that they will put FCV ügFCXüh on the market, which loads PEMFC developed by themselves and can be started at lower temperature than freezing point. They will deliver 2 FCX as lease base to the first customer, New York State on December this year. Lease charge is 500 dollars a month per vehicle for 2 years contract.
( Nihon Keizai Shimbun November 17, 2004, Asahi Shimbun, Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun, The Daly Automotive News November 18, 2004 )
(2) Osaka Sangyo University
Creative Center, Osaka Sangyo University (Daito City) fabricated proto type one seat vehicle driven by PEMFC, and drove at 20km/h in the campus. PEMFC is loaded on the body made by Mitsuoka Motor Co., Ltd. and hydrogen was supplied by the venture company, OSU Co., Ltd. established by the university, using high temperature super heated steam production system.
( Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun November 19, 2004 )
10. Construction of Hydrogen Supply Stations
(1) Toho Gas Co., Ltd.
Toho Gas, jointly with NIPPON STEEL CORPORATION and TAIYO NIPPON SANSO CORPORATION, will construct the largest hydrogen station in Japan at the Seto exhibition site of The 2005 World Exposition, Aichi, Japan. The hydrogen supply capacity is 2,200 cubic meter and the hydrogen will be supplied to FCB (Fuel Cell Bus) to be operated between pavilions.
( Nikkei Sangyo Shimbun November 4, 2004 )
(2) Honda Motor Co., Ltd.
Honda announced on November 17, 2004 that they started demonstration test of domestic hydrogen supply system ügHES IIüh at New York State, USA. This system generates hydrogen from natural gas and supplies to FCV etc, and also has the function of co-generation and will be installed at head office of Plug Power Fuel Cell Systems. The installation volume has been reduced to a half of conventional type. HES II has the maximum hydrogen generating capacity of 2 cubic meter per hour and the hydrogen storage capacity is 132 litters and the power generation capacity is 4 kW.
( The Daily Automotive News November 18, 2004 )
11. Development and the Application of Micro FC
On November 11, 2004, Hitachi, Ltd. made open to public a PDA, ügNature Viewerüh to be used at Hitachi Group Pavilion in The 2005 World Exposition, Aichi, Japan. The PDA has 3.5 inch type LCD displaying information and two selector switches. The most advanced technologies of Hitachi Group are integrated, for example, installing a reading function of the non-contact IC chip, ügâ╩-chipüh, powered by micro FC and lithium battery. ügInteracting with scarce animalüh is planned as an attraction and portrait of endangered animal and information on habitat can be provided to visitor just by holding up and directing the PDA toward the animal as the â╩-chips are plugged in endangered animals exhibited and PDA with reading function is provided. As the DMFC is weak in load variation, lithium ion battery is installed for the back-up power when it is in such big load change as start up and 13 hours continuous operation with 5 mL methanol has been realized.
( Nihon Keizai Shimbun, Nikkei Sangyo Shimbun, Denki Shimbun, Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun, Denpa Shimbun, Fuji Sankei Business Eye November 12, 2004, The Chemical Daily November 15, 2004 )
12. New Energy System Utilizing FC
SAN-ESU DENKI TSUSIN Co., Ltd., Hokkaido University and others, launched the realization of new energy system combined with wind power generation and FC. Concluding the demonstration test within fiscal year 2004, they aim at the commercialization in fiscal year 2006. Applications to regions where the utility grids are not available, such as dairy farm, culture pond and fishing boat, are assumed.
( Nikkei Sangyo Shimbun November 4, 2004 )
13. Development of New Fuel
JGC Corporation and Osaka Gas Co., Ltd. started the construction of a pilot plant at Osaka Gas area which can produce synthesis gas required when produced GTL or DME from natural gas with low cost. Though the existing process utilizes burner combustion for production of synthesis gas, the feature of this project is to replace it by a catalytic combustion. Adopting noble metal catalyst developed by Osaka Gas, the process is to make catalyst reaction and steam reforming reaction conduct concurrently at the catalyst bed by charging ppb level desulfurized natural gas, steam and oxygen, which is called as an A-ATG catalyst process. Cost reduction would be expected as the facility becomes compact.
( Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun November 19, 2004 )
14. Measurement Technology related to FC and Hydrogen
HORIBA Ltd. organized a technical advisory committee (TAC) to mutually discuss measurement technologies on automobile engine after 2010, by academy and industry, and held the first meeting at Kyoto head office. 5 worldwide famous scholars got together, and Professor Scott Samuelson, California University, USA, joined for the FCV session.
( Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun November 12, 2004 )
15. Prospect for FC and the Related Market
Fuji-Keizai Co., Ltd. concluded a forcast that the domestic FC market will be expanded to a scale of 1.2 trillion yen by 2020. The market of PEMFC for FCV will be 900 billion yen by 300,000 units per year (by 2020), for house market will grow up to 50 billion yen. SOFC for commercial and industrial use will be 200 billion yen, for mobile will be 3 billion yen by 3 million sets, and market for PAFC and MCFC will be 3.5 billon yen in total.
( Nikkei Sangyo Shimbun November 17, 2004, The Daily Automotive News November 19, 2004, Fuji Sankei Business Eye November 25, 2004 )