1.Policy by Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport
For relaxation of regulation on compressed hydrogen production facilities, the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport finished amendment draft of operation examples by architectural standard law, and it will be decided by the Cabinet on March 22, 2005. Sites for compressed hydrogen production facilities supplying compressed hydrogen to automobiles by FCs and internal combustion engines, as a rule, are limited in industrial area and quasi-industrial area. However, according to the amendment draft, the facilities can be sited in first class residential area, second class residential area, quasi-residential area, commercial area, adjacent area to commercial area and quasi-industrial area, as well, provided that the facilities are in conformity with standards decided by the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport. (Daily Construction Industries Newspaper, March 22, 2005)
On March 31, the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport settled standards for safety and environment of FCV and set up a system to certify models. The contents are safety at automobile crash, conditions for prevention of hydrogen leakage etc, and related laws and ordinances were amended and announced. Main technical conditions in the standards are prescriptions on furnishing of gas containers and pipes to prevent hydrogen leakage to the passenger room and performance of a hydrogen leakage detector and its installation place. Furthermore, as to un-reacted hydrogen exhaustion, the upper limit for hydrogen concentration is prescribed, and technical conditions are also described to prevent hydrogen leakage and to protect electric shock by high voltage. (Daily Automobile Newspaper, April 1, 2005)
2.Policy by Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry
(1) Center for FC Advanced Basic Technology
The director of the above organization was decided to be Mr. Hasegawa, the chief of FC development division in FC development headquarter of Toyota Motors Corp. This center was established on April 1, 2005 to promote fundamental research on PEFC by initiative of the Agency of Resources and Energy, the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry and based on the Agency of Industrial Science and Technology. Researchers from universities and motor companies are solicited to join as well as researchers in the Agency of Industrial Science and Technology. The center is consisted of young people mainly in thirties of age. Recruiting will also be done from overseas, such as Los Alamos National Institute. (Daily Industrial Newspaper, March 25, 2005 and Japan Economic Paper, March 28, 2005)
(2) Financial Support
The Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry will financially support companies making research and development of PEFC of good endurance. Home-use PEFCs are now being preliminarily sold, but the life seems about 2 years at present. It is aimed to encourage cooperative development of the key components now made individually by companies and it is the target to increase the endurance by three folds to realize PEFC endurable for more than 5 years. The financial support will be made through the NEDO, and subsidies will be provided after examining proposed research plans of elementary technologies of ion exchange membrane, electrodes etc from electric companies and so on. The total subsidy in 2005 fiscal year from April is 5.45 billion yen. (Japan Economic Newspaper, April 1, 2005)
(3) Examination Committee for Strategy of FC Commercialization
The Examination Committee on Marketing Strategy of Stationary Fuel Cells was organized by initiative of the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, and it will have the final meeting to point out problems for wide propagation of PEFC, such as cost reduction. The committee will publish specifications of auxiliary components on April 1, 2005. The committee composed of nine companies of FC system makers and energy suppliers had meetings since August of 2004, and it will finish the report on the examination results. The committee points out the problems for the propagation, on recognition of new phase of the stationary PEFC since 2005. In the report, concrete items, such as 40 thousand hour life and 1,000 – 3,000 cycles of start and stop, are described for home-use FC in early stage of propagation in 2008. Furthermore, the specification of auxiliary components, which is an important problem for cost reduction, is also released. Taking account of this point, cooperative development will be started by 5 firms of auxiliary components makers and FC system makers.
In the report of the Examination Committee on Marketing Strategy of Stationary Fuel Cells, possibility of under l million yen per kW is suggested by cooperatively developing and using common auxiliary components, e.g., blowers and pumps, as one of the most important tasks for cost reduction in the propagation. Because ratio of the auxiliary components to the total system in cost is increasing up to half, it is the aim to realize large cost reduction by the cooperative development with firms including minor and/or venture enterprises. (Daily Industrial Newspaper, April 7 and 13, 2005)
To promote effective and efficient investments for FC, NEDO will make “Road Map of FC and Hydrogen Technology” up to 2020. The aimed fields are three, i.e., FC per se, production and infrastructures of hydrogen and others. The FCs included are PEFC, DMFC and SOFC. (Daily Chemical Industry Newspaper, March 23, 2005)
NEF will make large-scale demonstration of stationary FC by subsidy from NEDO in fiscal year of 2005. For pointing out the future tasks, many 1kW stationary FC systems will be installed, and observed data of practical application in general homes will be gathered for 2 years to observe technical level of the private sector in early stage of market creation. In relation with this, NEF is now inviting participants in the first stage of this demonstration program, and the deadline of application is April 15, 2005. The objective of this subsidiary program is a system installed in a residence with following performances; about 1kW output, over 30% electric efficiency and over 65% overall efficiency at rated output operation (HHV), over 27% electric efficiency and over 54% overall efficiency at 50% load operation and over 2 year life. Furthermore, the other conditions are that the systems are virgin systems and products of a maker which can supply more than 30 systems. The conditions for the applicant are that it should be a firm supplying fuel and it can install more than 5 systems of the same maker and totally over 10 systems. It should also be able to gather data of practical operation in general homes for 2 years. Subsidy will be up to 6 million yen per one system. (Electromagnetic Wave Newspaper, March 28, 2005)
3.Policy by Local Governments
(1) Shizuoka Prefecture
Shizuoka Prefecture will start “Shizuoka Collaborative Conference on FC and Hydrogen Energy (tentative)” in fiscal year of 2005, to strive for realization of recycle society with little load to environment by promotion of FC and hydrogen technology. It will make examination of ways to make infrastructure, integration of related industries and model projects by collaboration among industrial, governmental and academic sectors. Examples are construction of “Tokaido hydrogen high way,” cogeneration in the Shizuoka air port terminal buildings with FC, FC shuttle bus service and model projects for propagation and publicity. (Shizuoka Newspaper, March 20, 2005)
(2) Aichi Prefecture
Aichi prefecture finished a plan for promotion of new energy related industries and it will be completed in 2010 fiscal year. It is aimed to show direction to promotion of new energy industries mainly of hydrogen energy. “Hydrogen Energy Industries Conference” will promote this plan. Items of the target are three. They are 1) creation of new industry and new progress in manufacturing industries based on hydrogen energy and FC, 2) development of dispersed energy systems fitted to area characteristics and 3) formation of model area for promotion of new energy technology in demonstration level. Promotion of technological development and research project of FC will be done by collaboration among governmental, industrial and academic sectors. In addition to this, a trial core, i.e., an open base for support will be installed. The conference will make proposition on principle guideline for network systems between residence and industry and between commerce and residence. Furthermore, actions to the central government will be searched as to relaxation and review of regulation, such as examination and proposition of structural-reformation special zones and renewal zones. Final aim is economic development compatible with environment for realization of sustainable society. (Daily Construction Industry Newspaper March 24, 2005)
(3) Fukuoka Prefecture
On March 28, 2005, the section of structural reformation zones under the Cabinet decided to approve ”Fukuoka Plan of Hydrogen Research and Development Special Zone” proposed cooperatively by Fukuoka Prefecture and Fukuoka City. The special zone covers Hakozaki campus of Kyushu University (Higashi Ward of Fukuoka City) and a new campus of the university in Nishi Ward to which a part of the university will be moved in this fall. The plan will be promoted by Fukuoka Hydrogen Energy Strategy Conference and Kyushu University as cores, and the aims of this plan are to increase rate of research and development for realization of hydrogen energy society and to promote integration of hydrogen related industries. In concrete items it is included to speed up research and development by omitting test of high pressure endurance and leakage for a small pressurized container (under 400 mL capacity and under 100 MPa pressure) used in testing hydrogen utilization technology. “Fukuoka Hydrogen Energy Strategic Project,” the core of which is “Fukuoka Hydrogen Energy Strategy Conference” (Chairman, Mr. Yagi, Vice-President of Shin-Nihon Steel Co.) established in August of 2004, will promote research and development of production, storage, transportation and utilization, as a whole, to meet industrial needs. On the other hand, in Kyushu University a hydrogen station will be installed to aim realization of miniaturized hydrogen society. The other items are demonstration in Kitakyushu ecological town area, establishment of Fukuoka education center of hydrogen energy experts, etc. (Daily Industrial Newspaper, March 24, 2005)
(4) Hiroshima Prefecture
Hiroshima Prefecture will make “Investigation Activity on Hydrogen Fuel Production and Supply” as one of new items. In Hiroshima Prefecture are many firms holding hydrogen related technology and making its development. Therefore, the prefecture decided to make investigations including possibility of hydrogen production in the prefecture and examination of supplying system as well as gathering information on hydrogen related technology, through which connections among the firms are also promoted. Leading firms and institutes are 1) Chugoku Electric Power Co. and Hiroshima Gas Co. for hydrogen production technology by water electrolysis, 2) JEE Steel Co. and Mitsui Chemical Industries Co. for byproduct hydrogen, 3) Mitsubishi Heavy Industry (Hiroshima Work), The Hiroshima University, Babcock Hitachi KK, Chugoku Electric Power Co. and Mazda Motor Corp. for FC, 4) The Hiroshima University, NKK Corp. and Mitsui Mining & Smelting Co. for hydrogen storage and transportation technology, 5) NKK Corp. for a hydrogen compressor, 6) Babcock Hitachi KK. for mobile hydrogen stations, and 7) The Hiroshima University and The Agency of Industrial Science and Technology as research organizations. (Steel Newspaper, April 4, 2005)
(5) Saga Prefecture
In May Saga Prefecture will sponsor “Hydrogen Energy Round-Table Conference,” a study meeting among industrial, governmental and academic sectors. The purpose is to provide firms in the prefecture with chances to join into FC related industries. The chairman of the conference will be Prof. Monde, Director of Ocean Energy Center of the Saga University. Meetings will be held every 2 months, and lectures will be given by experts from universities etc. Organization of collaborative research groups is also the aim. (Daily Industry Newspaper, April 13, 2005)
(6) Musashino City
Musashino City in Tokyo Prefecture introduced a home-use PEFC cogeneration system into the Municipal Onoda Primary School and the operation was started. The purpose is to use it for education on environment. (Nippon Economy Newspaper, April 14, 2005)
4.Achievement in MCFC Development
On April 1, 2005 MCFC Consortium set forth success in electric generation test of its MCFC plant of 180 kW output under 12 atmospheric pressures. It is possible to design a compact system by high pressure operation and to increase plant output efficiency.
The test results show that the FC output efficiency is 43% and it is by 3 – 4 points lower than efficiency of usual MCFC, but it was stated that the efficiencies could be increased by future improvement, such as reduction in internal resistance. In conventional MCFC reforming efficiency of methane etc was decreased by about 20 % in high-pressure operation, but this problem was overcome by additional reforming process using exhausted heat evolved in electric generation. Furthermore, gas leakage from cell stacks was perfectly prevented, and loss of electrode catalyst could be reduced by adjusting concentration of carbon dioxide. Reliability of the system was increased as a whole, and about 500 hour operation was achieved. If a combined cycle were made with advanced gas turbine for example, net electrical efficiency of 50% could be achieved. At the same time, about 5,000 hour operation and 41% net electrical efficiency can be attained for a small scale system of 150 kW under 3 atmospheric pressures. (Electric Newspaper, April 4, 2005 and Nihon Economy Newspaper, April 5, 2005)
5.Trends in SOFC Development
(1) Daiichi Kigenso Kagaku Kogyo Co.
Daiichi Kigenso Kagaku Kogyo Co. is examining commercial production of scandia-stabilized zirconia (ScSZ), which was developed by collaboration with Toho Gas Co. for SOFC electrolyte material. The electric conductivity of ScSZ is two fold higher than that of YSZ, and thus it enables large increase in the efficiency together with scale down of SOFC. It has been shipped to many firms and research institutes as a sample. Because it was demonstrated that scale down and cost reduction could be realized by using this material, Toho Gas Co. decided to commercialize SOFC generating plant by using this material. In relation with this decision, installation of mass production line is now being examined and real industrialization is expected. In this collaboration between these two, tasks for making products of practical use, such as endurance, were completed and stabilized performance under any condition could be achieved.
Daiichi Kigenso Kagaku Kogyo Co. installed a pilot plant in the Osaka factory and established facility for medium scale production. As to conventionally used YSZ, the company are already making it in mass production scale, and some firms in Japan and oversea countries preliminarily decided to use it. To industrialize both products in full scale, further large cost reduction is essential, and establishment of new technologies to achieve this task are keenly needed. Firms other than Toho Gas Co. tentatively decided to apply this new material in their FC, and hence there is some possibility for this material to grown up to a product of large scale use. (Daily Chemical Industries Newspaper, March 23, 2005)
A plate type SOFC developed by Mitsubishi Heavy Industry is now under continuous operation in Aichi International Exposition for its full duration. For a type of methane internal reforming, 30 – 40 kW output and 4,000 hour life at 1000oC was realized. The cell is as follows; 20 cm X 20 cm cell, YSZ electrolyte, nickel-based fuel electrodes and lanthanum-based air electrodes. The cells are rugged to increase reaction area and connected electrically with inter-connectors. The real operating conditions are lower than the rated conditions, i.e., 28 kW and 24 kW, and the operation will be made continuously until the end of the exposition. The efficiency is set low at 38%.
As to the tube type SOFC made by a method of printing and sintering, operation of 25 kW cells will be started in cooperation with J Power Group in Nagasaki before summer of 2005. (Daily Industry Newspaper March 31, 2005)
6.Elementary Technologies and System Development of PEFC
(1) Hitachi Zosen Corp.
Hitachi Zosen Corp. made contract with a Canadian company, Hydrogenics Corp. for practical use of PEFC generating systems. In collaboration the two companies will combine their technologies and products to develop generating systems for business use, and they will also make investigation and exploitation of domestic market together with system supply and publicity. The contract will be reviewed every 2 years, and they will strategically deploy their activities to timely meet market needs. Concrete items are development of business use, such as buildings, hospitals and convenience stores, and emergency application. Main specifications of the system are 10 – several hundred kW electrical output, over 45% (HHV) electric efficiency using over 99.99% hydrogen, 86% overall efficiency, 40,000 hour life, 500 – 600 thousand yen/kW and so on. It is assumed to use water electrolysis equipments by Hitachi Zosen Corp. as hydrogen sources by using low-cost electric power in the night. In contract fields with Hydrogenics Corp., the company is considering licensed production of PEFC and establishment of a joint venture as well as collaboration in hydrogen production equipment, FC testing equipment etc. (Nihon Economy Newspaper, Electric Newspaper, Nikkei Business Newspaper, Daily Industrial Newspaper, Construction and Communication Newspaper, Daily Construction Industry Newspaper and Chemical Industry Newspaper, March 25, 2005)
(2) Hitachi Maxell. Hitachi Maxell. published on March 29, 2005 that it has developed technology for making highly dispersed PtRuP catalyst (2 nm grain size) by adding non-metallic phosphorous into platinum – ruthenium alloy using metal plating technique. It was used in DMFC and the maximum output density is increased by 1.7 folds (64
mW/cm2) in comparison with conventional catalyst. By the conventional method in which fine catalyst particles are bore on large surface high-conductivity carbon, the catalyst particles are buried into fine pores of carbon and they does not contribute to reaction of methanol etc. In newly developed PtRuP catalyst metallic bonds in Pt and Ru are dissociated by adding phosphorous having large inter-atomic interaction with Pt and Ru, so that the catalyst particles are kept fine irrespective of carbon surface. The distribution of particle size is narrow, i.e., 1.5 – 2.5 nm. Based on this new technology the company is considering research and development oriented to PEFC, DMFC etc. (Chemical Industries Newspaper, March 30, 2005 and Nikkei Business Newspaper, March 31, 2005)
(3) Showa Denko K.K.
On April 5, 2005 Showa Denko K.K.., set forth development of a carbon-resin molded separator for PEFC. This new separator is promising in conductivity and endurance compared with conventional separator of graphite carbon. Moreover, the new one is less brittle and it can be produced in low cost. It is more durable and light even than metallic separators. The new product is made by using newly developed graphite fine powder, whose size distribution and particle shape are optimized, and
the conductivity is 10 fold higher than conventional graphite. The binder resin for complex formation can be either thermoplastic resin or thermosetting resin, but the complex has high conductivity and high mechanical strength with toughness for either resin. Speedy molding method of about 15 s. per one separator was also developed, so that it could hopefully be produced at about 1/10 cost in future when it is widely used. The other characteristics are low weight (1/3 – 1/4 compared with the metallic separator) and thin thickness of 200 – 300 micron m, which cannot be achieved for conventional graphite separators. Proceeding in evaluation by PEFC makers, further research will be made for further improvement. (Nikkei Business Newspaper, Daily industrial Newspaper and Daily Chemical Industry Newspaper, April 6, 2005)
7.Business Deployment of Home-use PEFC
(1)Cosmo Oil Co.
Cosmo Oil Co. is entering into home-use PEFC market. Until the end of 2005 it will start its sales business of LPG reforming PEFC, and furthermore kerosene PEFC will be added in 2007. The LPG type is 700 W output PEFC developed cooperatively with Toshiba Fuel Cell Systems Corp. and about 100 are estimated to be sold by rental for 3 years from 2006. The rental will be about 60,000 yen per year, and 3 – 5 year contracts are assumed. Cosmo Oil Co. started demonstration in Mie Prefecture, and it is also making effort of increasing the electric efficiency and reducing the cost. Sales of kerosene type is scheduled in 2007 and a partner for cooperation is now searching, Toshiba Fuel Cell Systems Corp. being promising. (Nihon Economy Newspaper, March 24, 2005)
On April 1, 2005 the company started an inter-divisional team, “Promotion Team for FC Practical Use,” and the team is consisted of 10 persons with tasks of home-use PEFC and utilization of hydrogen station, as well. (Daily Chemical Industry Newspaper April 1, 2005 and Electric Newspaper April 4, 2005)
(2) Iwatani Industries Co.
On March 28, 2005 Iwatani Industries Co. announced it is going to start sales of LPG reforming home-use PEFC, in cooperation with Toshiba Fuel Cell Systems Corp. It will join large-scale national demonstration program starting in 2005, and it is planning to install 10 in the first fiscal year and over 100 for 3 years. Application for installation will be received since May 1. Lease rate is 60,000 yen per year with 3 year contract. The performances of a system under sales are 700 W output (AC at output of the system), 32% electric efficiency (HHV, at output of the system), 71% overall efficiency, and the size is 87 cm width X 88.5 cm height X 35 cm depth. (Nikkei Business Newspaper and Daily Chemical Industries Newspaper March 29, 2005)
(3) Nippon Oil Corp.
Nippon Oil Corp. released the third medium term management plan. In this plan FC business is described; home-use and business-use kerosene reforming type will be commercialized in 2006, and 1,000 home-use 1 kW LPG reforming type FCs are planned to be soled in 2007. (Electric Newspaper and Daily Industry Newspaper March 31, 2005)
(4) Idemitu Kosan Co. and Corona Co.
On March 31, 2005 the above two companies published collaborative development of 1 kW class PEFC systems fueled with commercially available kerosene. A developed test system is installed in New Energy Research Center of Corona Co. (Sanjo City) and its operation will begin on April 1, 2005. The electric efficiency of the system is 30% (LHV) and overall efficiency is 70%, and the electric efficiency, the efficiency of recovered heat, start-up time, operational controllability and endurance will be confirmed by 1 year test operation. (Daily Industry Newspaper and Daily Chemical Industry Newspaper April 1, 2005, and Nikkei Business Newspaper and Electromagnetic Wave Newspaper April 4, 2005)
Idemitu Kosan Co. completed demonstration, which has been done for 5 kW business-use PEFC systems fueled with commercially available kerosene at an employee dormitory of Hokkaido refinery factory since March of 2004. The operation was made by various modes, such as DSS (daily start and stop) and 1 week continuous operation, for totally 3,572 hours with 13,829 kWh total electric generation. By the results of this operation the company stated the followings could be made clear. 1) When electrical load was changed following heat demand, increase in overall efficiency and energy saving were achieved by this mode of operation. 2) Because exhausted heat was not used for a bathroom, heat demand was small and surplus of heat often occurs. 3) Failures happened in auxiliary components, such as blockages in pipes and failures of valves. Hereafter the tested system will be overhauled to check for degradations and damages. (Daily Chemical Industry Newspaper April 7, 2005)
(5) Home-Use FC in Prime-Minister’s New Official Residence
The residence was completed in the end of March, and on April 8 home-use PEFC systems were installed with the ceremony. The Prime-minister, Mr. Koizumi turned on the switches of 2 systems of electric generation and hot water supply. Tokyo Gas Co., Matsushita Electric Industrial Co. and Ebara Ballard Corp. made these systems by collaboration.
(6) Toshiba Corp.
The company reinforces its development organization aiming business deployment of home-use PEFC. In December of 2004 the company instituted a section for FC business deployment, and moreover the company subsidized the former joint venture with UTC of US as a completely subsidiary company of Toshiba Co. Hereafter it will concentrate in home-use 1 kW class and the section will make use of technologies in other business divisions, such as home-use appliances and transportation. (Electric Newspaper April 12, 2005)
8.Development of Reforming and Hydrogen Production
Toho Gas Co. made development of efficient pressurized hydrogen production technology. Utilizing reaction of iron and water vapor to form iron oxide and hydrogen, pressurized hydrogen was produced by mixing fine powder of iron (10 nm order) and pressurized water vapor. In comparison with conventional method of pressurizing hydrogen with pistons and cylinders, the new method can reduce electricity for hydrogen production to 1/10. 10 MPa hydrogen has been produced, and the company will continue research hereafter to pressurize hydrogen up to 35MPa, while it will make examination of development and production of practical equipments together with a plant maker. (Nikkei Business Newspaper April 12, 2005)
9.Development of Hydrogen Storage and Transportation
On March 24, 2005 the Agency of Industrial Science and Technology and Japan Metals & Chemicals Co. published a new fusion method to produce hydrogen absorbing alloy of finely controlled composition. Instead of inert gas of argon hitherto used in a fusion furnace, gas mixed with helium is used to reduce vaporization of light metal, e.g., magnesium and hence it is possible to obtain alloys of aimed composition. The target is development of alloys to absorb hydrogen of over 5 wt% and to release it for application to FCV etc. For hydrogen absorption alloys containing light metal, such as magnesium, calcium, lithium etc., as main components are now being investigated, but one of the problems is vaporization of these metals because of their low melting and vaporizing temperatures. It is especially the case when high melting metals, e.g., nickel, are melted with these light metals. Furthermore, due to smoke of fine particles formed through the vapor, visual observation of molten state becomes hard. By investigation of inert gases, the agency and the company found that this problem can be solved by using gas mixed with helium. They confirmed that the aimed composition can be obtained in application of systems whose main components are calcium and magnesium, and also improvement in yield was also confirmed. Hereafter they will make development of high capacity alloys and also make investigation and analysis on the effect of helium containing gas. (Daily Industry Newspaper and Chemical Industry Newspaper March 25, 2005, Daily Automobile Newspaper March 26, 2005, and Kensetsu Tsushin Shimbun April 5, 2005)
10.Development of Portable DMFC
GS Yuasa Corp. developed high power and compact DMFC, “YFC-1000,” which can be applied to wide usages, such as agriculture, robots, emergency uninterruptible power sources and industry. The output power is 1,000 VA at its maximum, and 54% methanol aqueous solution is used, so that danger like ignition is scarce. It is easy to carry with attached casters. It is expected to begin sales in 2005 fiscal year. (Daily Industry Newspaper, Kyoto Newspaper and Daily Chemical Industry Newspaper April 15, 2005)
11.Development of Micro FC
Sanyo Electric Co. and Japan IBM Co. published their agreement of collaborative development of micro FC for note type personal computers and open demonstration of a trial product was made on April 11, 2005. Its practical use is aimed within about 3 years. Since IBM will sell the personal computer business to a Chinese firm (Lenovo group, Sanyo Electric Co. will finally collaborate with this Chinese group. The size of the trial product is 27 cm width, 28 cm depth and 5.4 cm height, and capacity of the cartridge for methanol is 130 cc, the duration for the computer operation being 8 hours. Tasks are size reduction to half and cost reduction as well. (Yomiuri Newspaper, Asahi Newspaper, Mainichi Newspaper, Sankei Newspaper, Nihon Economy Newspaper, Electric Newspaper, Nikkei Business Newspaper, Electromagnetic Wave Newspaper, Daily Chemical Industry Newspaper and Fuji-Sankei Business Eye, April 14, 2005)
12.Development and Business of Metrological and Evaluation Equipments of FC and Hydrogen
(1) Chino Corp.
Chino Corp. and FC Research Institute of The Chinese Transportation University exchanged a note on research and development of FC evaluation equipments for Chinese market. According to this note Chino Corp. installed a compact FC evaluation equipment of high performance, “FC 5100,” at the institute in Shanghai Transportation University. This university is now making construction of a new large campus in the suburb of Shanghai, and the FC institute is also planning to move to this new campus. The collaborative research is made for promotion of research and development on FC metrological and evaluation technologies in China as well as optimization of functions of FC evaluation equipment. On this chance of collaboration Chino Co. promotes sales of test equipment in China. (Daily Industry Newspaper March 31, 2005 and Electromagnetic Wave Newspaper April 5, 2005)
(2) Yamatake & Co.
Yamatake & Co. developed a micrometer to measure dew point, i.e., the highest temperature at which water in air and gas forms dew. This is a type called “cooled mirror surface” and the measurement is done by the following procedure. The sensor is first inserted at the place to be measured, and the mirror attached to the top of the sensor is then illuminated while cooled Measuring randomly reflected light due to dew on the mirror surface, extent of dew formation can be obtained to determine the dew point. It can be used in a narrow place at high accuracy. When temperature of gas to be measured is
25℃, dew point above –40℃ can be measured. The price is estimated to be about 1 million yen. Sales will be started by the end of 2006 fiscal year, and new demand will be searched in addition to conventional demands. (Nikkei Business Newspaper April 4, 2005)
On April 12, 2005 Yamatake & Co. released that they get prospect in development of the micro dew meter of cooled mirror surface type and announced its trial sales in 2005 with naming of “FINEDEW.” By applying their own light modulation technology of photoelectric sensor, they invented a meter which does not need a measuring chamber and a pump for air aspiration. By applying a light system of coaxial structure and mirror surface on silicon chip based on technology of micro machining and assembling with MEMS (micro-elecromechanical system), they also succeeded in intensive miniaturization. These new technologies enable reduction of risk of unnecessary dew formation and measurement of high dew point atmosphere, and furthermore high control technology brings high rate responsibility and good signal following performance. The apex of the sensor is 12 mm diameter and its volume is 1/100 of usual sensor of cooled mirror surface type. (Electric Newspaper, Daily Industry News paper, Daily Construction Communication Newspaper and Daily Chemical Industry Newspaper April 13, 2005)
Tohshin-Tech. (Tokyo Prefecture) developed a strength test equipment of FC electrolyte under high pressure and temperature with controlled humidity. Hitherto the test of PEFC electrolyte membrane has been made about
80℃, because precise humidity control is hard in the atmosphere above 100℃. The company adopted a new method of ejecting water vapor after heating and drying the test chamber together with preventing humidity sensor from dew and directly controlling the pressure. The test apparatus can keep atmosphere at any humidity from 30% to 90% at temperature below
180℃ under pressure lower than 0.5MPa. The accuracy was improved by setting a load sensor in the chamber. The price is 18 – 20 million yen for full specification, but a test apparatus can also be sold. In addition to this, a small test plant for metal in 100% hydrogen atmosphere at 4.5 MPa is also developed.
--------- This edition is made up as of April 16, 2005. -------
A POSTER COLUMN
Successful 852 Hour Continuous Operation of EAGLE Pilot Plant
Coal gas production technology for FC (EAGLE) is essential for electric generation by coal gasification FC combined cycle (IGFC). In a pilot plant 852 hour continuous operation was succeeded, and the duration is much longer than the previous longest record of 291 hours. J Power Group makes research and development of EAGLE as a cooperative work with NEDO, and continuous operation was planned from 2001 fiscal year to 2006 fiscal year for the pilot plant constructed at Wakamatsu research center in Kitakyushu. Up to 2003 fiscal year performance of coal gasification and gas purification was confirmed, and confirmation of performance in long-term continuous operation has been undertaken. Hereafter the plant after the long operation will be observed in detail, and wear and corrosion of components, ash attachment in the furnace etc. will be made clear. Aiming practical operation in 2005 fiscal year and 2006 fiscal year, gasification data for coals of different characteristics will be obtained and further research will be continued for scale up. (Electric Newspaper March 31, 2005)
Sharp Corp. Intensifies Business of Solar Cells for Industrial Use
Sharp Corp. intensifies promising solar cells business for industrial use. The followings will be made; enrichment of line up, increase in personnel for sales to industrial-use market, introduction of support system by IT and so on. The production of solar cells in 2004 fiscal year is 360MW including home-use and industrial use, and turnover is 110 billion yen. Those in 2005 fiscal year are expected to be 400MW and 150billion yen, respectively, and 70 billion yen is assumed for industrial use. By strengthen demand creation in overseas, it is planned to expand to 500 billion yen in 2010 fiscal year. By enlargement of the market some are anxious on price up due to lack of materials, but the company stated that their new product of crystalline thin film solar cells modules uses a little materials (silicon) and production cost can be kept low. Furthermore by increase in ratio of thin film cells and their mass production, even cost reduction is anticipated. (Electromagnetic Wave Newspaper April 1, 2005)
Development of Materials for Effective CCS (Carbon Capture and Storage)
At the R and D center of Toshiba Corp., development of epoch-making materials for
CO2 absorption is now in progress. It is compound of lithium and silicon, i.e., lithium silicate, and the company first studies compound of lithium and zirconium, namely lithium zirconate, but since zirconium is rare metal so that it is not suitable for mass production. Searching for substituting other materials, this lithium silicate was found. Lithium silicate absorbs carbon dioxide below
700℃ and releases it over 700℃. Using this property the material can be used repeatedly. In comparison with conventional organic amine compound as absorbing liquid, operating energy and space for equipment could be reduced. (Nikkei Business Newspaper April 11, 2005 and Electromagnetic Wave Newspaper April 13, 2005)