THE LATEST FUEL CELL NEWS IN JAPAN, 2005

Arranged by T. HOMMA
1.Governmental Policy
2.Development of PEFC Elementary Technologies
3.Business Deployment of Home-Use PEFC Systems
4.FCV Forefront
5.FC Power for Mobiles
6.Technological Development of Reforming and Hydrogen Production
7.Technological Development of Hydrogen Storage
8.Development of DMFC and Small Size FC
9.Development of Bio-FC
10.Forecast of FC Market
11.Business Activities by Firms
A POSTER COLUMN
1.Governmental Policy
(1) METI and Agency of Natural Resources and Energy
gStrategy Study Group on FC Practical Use,h a consultative organ for the president of the Agency of Natural Resources and Energy had a meeting on April 19, 2005, and they discussed the policy for research, development and commercialization after 2006 fiscal year. In this meeting the agency first explained the recent trends, and it was reported that the relaxation of the regulations was completed until March of 2005. Results of various demonstrations were reported together with results in FCCJ and PEFC Advanced Basic Research Center, and the budget in 2005 fiscal year was also explained.
The Japanese Government has supported the FC development by allocating more than 30 billion yen per year. Progresses are observed in concrete items, for instance, a large-scale demonstration of stationary FC started in 2005 fiscal year. On the other hand, researches in fundamental fields are needed for large cost reduction. Members in the study group pointed out necessities and made propositions of cost reduction by standardization of components and fundamental researches by negotiation among governmental, industrial and academic sectors. Other things were also discussed. They also requested that the government decides position of hydrogen energy in the total energy policy.
The members also pointed out that allocation of FC related budget should be reviewed as occasion calls, and verification of safety related items was also pointed out. [The Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun (business and technology) April 20, 2005 and The Denki Shimbun (electricity) April 22, 2005*]
The Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry established gPEFC Advanced Basic Research Center (the popular name; gFC Cubic)h in the Institutes of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology, and researches were started to scientifically elucidate fundamental mechanisms in PEFC. This is a 5 year program, and 1 billion yen was allocated in 2005 fiscal year. The main research items are kinetics of electrochemical reactions to reduce platinum catalyst, elucidation of transport phenomena of proton and hydrogen related species and migration phenomena of electrical charge carrier to improve performance and endurance, etc. It is aimed to gather researchers in young generation and to undertake creative researches in order to grow it up to a worldwide top-level research center and to lead R & D of PEFC. Furthermore, transfer of the results to industries and growth of experts are also the purpose of the center. Active personnel exchange with world top-level labs is also intended. [The Chemical Daily April 21, 2005 and The Yomiuri Shimbun May 15, 2005]
The Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry published a series of specifications for necessary auxiliary components. It was made by questionnaire and 34 components are included, for instance, pumps, blowers, valves, sensors, and flow meters. The conditions described are low energy consumption or energy saving, life of about 10 years or 60 to 70 thousand hour operation and low environmental impacts like low noise and low vibration. [The Chemical Daily, May 6, 2005]

(2)NEDO-NEF
NEF announced that it decided 7 firms participating in the large scale demonstration project of stationary 1 kW PEFC by subsidiary of NEDO since 2005 fiscal year.@The 7 firms, i.e., Tokyo Gas Co., Ltd., Osaka Gas Co., Ltd., Nippon Oil Corp., Japan Energy Corp., Idemitsu Kosan Co. Ltd., Kyushu Oil Co. Ltd. and Taiyo Oil Co. Ltd., operate totally 175 sets and receives subsidiary of total 2.5 billion yen in 2005 fiscal year. [The Denki Shimbun (electricity) and The Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun (business and technology) April 26, 2005 and The Chemical Daily April 27]
2.Development of PEFC Elementary Technologies
(1) Asahi Glass Co. Ltd.
The company succeeded in development of fluorocarbon electrolyte membrane of high temperature endurance necessary for practical use of PEFC for FCV. In environment of FCV, i.e., high temperature of 120 and low humidity of 50%, they succeeded in 4,000 continuous operation and they made, furthermore, operation of total 2,300 hours in severe on-off and load change tests. The rate of voltage decrease was suppressed to half in comparison with their previous membrane, and performance of long-term stable electric generation was demonstrated. [The Nikkei Sangyo Shimbun (Industries and Technology) and The Nikkan Kogyo Shinbun (business and technology) April 25, 2005]

(2) Dai Nippon Printing Co., Ltd.
The company succeeded in development of membrane of hydrogen selective permeability and metal separators by utilizing their printing related technologies, such as coating and metal machining. Furthermore, the company established its own system for coping with wide range needs from material characterization to overall evaluation of FC performance. They can also supply electrical manufacturers and automobile makers with these parts, and they are ready for collaboration with these companies through the supply. At present the company is promoting commercialization of catalyst transfer film for MEA production, metal separators, hydrogen selectively permeable membrane and methanol reformers as main products. The catalyst transfer film is that for transferring catalyst on solid polymer membrane. In this process polyester roll film is coated with ink containing catalyst and it is thermally transferred to form uniform thin catalyst layers. As to metal separators precise fine flow channels can be made and the internal flow channels can be formed by metal joining. By applying metal plating technology thickness of palladium in the membrane of hydrogen selective permeability can be reduced to 1/4 compared with conventional one. Hereafter a data base on the performances of these parts and their combinations will be made for the future collaboration [The Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun (business and technology) May 17, 2005]
3.Business Deployment of Home-Use PEFC Systems
(1) Shizuoka Gas Co. Ltd. and Others
In collaboration with Ishikawajima Shibaura Machinery Co. Ltd. and Takagi Industrial Co. Ltd. (Fuji City), the company is developing home-use 1 kW PEFC systems using reformed natural gas and will install them in general homes since August, aiming to join the national large scale monitoring demonstration project since 2006 fiscal year. Ishikawajima Shibaura Machinery Co. Ltd. has charge of PEFC stacks and natural gas reformers, and Takagi Industry Co. Ltd. is charged in heat utilization technology of waste heat recovery and hot water storage, while Shizuoka Gas Co., Ltd. take charge of system and total design. They are aimed 30% electric efficiency at rated output, 29% at 60% load and 75% overall efficiency. A hot water supplier of 150 liter capacity is attached with additional heating. The targets in practical use are 35% electric efficiency and more than 85% overall efficiency.
Hereafter development of the reformer using alumite plate (aluminum plate oxidized by anodic reaction) and metal separators will be promoted aiming large cost reduction together with improvement of endurance. Ishikawajima Shibaura Machinery Co., Ltd. began development of a catalyst plate in which catalyst is stuck on porous alumite plate and electrically conductive nichrome is attached. The start-up time of a steam reformer can be reduced to 5 minutes, and they are aiming that cost of a reformer (estimated to be 1 million yen at present) could be reduced to 1/50. The catalyst layer plate can be made by press machining with vast cost reduction, and the same parts are used for CO shift reaction and for CO selective oxidation. As to metal separators it is aimed to decrease the price to 200 yen per one plate by using materials of good corrosion resistance and good conductivity and also by coating. (The Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun (business and technology) April 21, 2005)

(2) Japan Energy Corp.
Japan Energy Corp. will invest 6 billion yen for 3 years up to 2007 fiscal year to a new business of home-use PEFC systems etc. The personnel charged in this new business increases from about 10 to 20 or more. The company developed the LPG fueled home use PEFC together with Toshiba Corp., and sales by lease will be started in May. Commercialization of kerosene fueled FC systems within 3 years is also a target. [The Nikkei Sangyo Shimbun (industries and technology) April 26, 2005]

(3) Tokyo Gas Co., Ltd.
The company announced that it started sales of stand alone houses with town gas fueled home use FC cogeneration system gLifuelh since April 29. The FC systems were installed in three new houses in Keio Horinouchi gBe free campush constructed by Sekisui House Co. Ltd. Sekisui House Co. Ltd. is also planning sales of seven houses with these gLifuelh systems at Kichijoji in Musashino City. [The Nihon Keizai Shimbun, The Dennki Shimbun (electricity), The Nikkeii Sangyo Shimbun (industries and technology), The Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun (business and technology) and The Chemical Daily April 27, 2005, The Mainichi Shimbun April 28, 2005 and The Jutaku Shimpo (residence) May 10, 2005]

(4) Nippon Oil Co. Ltd.
The company will rearrange its maintenance system for home use FC systems whose sales started in this spring. This maintenance system will be set in Yokohama refinery up to June and 20 – 30 persons will be involved in regular check and repair at accident. The FC operation will be monitored by remote control systems. The company also decided that personnel regularly visits the home for check, and react to accident within 24 hours. The maintenance system will be expanded in accordance with expansion of FC sales over the whole country since 2006 fiscal year. [The Nihon Keizai Shimbun (May 1, 2005)

(5) Hokkaido Gas Co., Ltd.
Since this fall the company will launch into commercialization of natural gas fueled home use cogeneration systems. For cold area the systems will be installed in houses for preventing them from freezing and reducing heat loss. To demonstrate them, 5 – 10 systems will be installed in real houses. The company aims to reduce the total cost including installation cost down to 10% of the present total cost, estimated to be 1 million yen per one set, and it is planning to set up the business in full dress in target year of 2008. In the concrete plan the systems, which were developed by collaboration of Tokyo Gas Co., Ltd. with Matsushita Electric Industrial Co., Ltd. or Ebara Ballard Corp., are improved for installation in houses, and the company is planning to sale them since October. It is also intended to join the large-scale demonstration project by NEF to accumulate know-how for development of system for the market and for commercialization. [The Hokkaido Shimbun May 2, 2005]

(6) Osaka Gas Co., Ltd.
Osaka Gas Co. Ltd. joins the first stage of gLarge-Scale Demonstration Project of Stationary FC.h Until August, 28 sets of home use PEFC systems will be installed and will be operated on completion. [The Dempa Shimbun (Electromagnetic wave) May 4, 200]

(7) Consortium
Six companies, namely Tokyo Gas Co. Ltd., Nippon Oil Co. Ltd., Matsushita Electric Industrial Co. Ltd., Sanyo Electric Co. Ltd., Asahi Glass Co. Ltd. and Asahi Kasei Corp. form a consortium to undertake a 5 year program. In this program they develop stationary FC endurable enough under large fluctuation of temperature, humidity, load etc., while specially ordered components are not used as auxiliary components, aiming large-scale propagation around 2012. They also make application to strategic technology development for FC practical use by NEDO as a 100% subsidiary item. If it is accepted by NEDO, they would invest 4 billion yen to realize large cost reduction and high efficiency. The items of the reforming technology are gas reforming and LPG reforming, and Tokyo Gas Co. Ltd., Matsushita Electric Industrial Co. Ltd. and Asahi Glass Co. Ltd. have charge of the former, while Nippon Oil Co. Ltd., Sanyo Electric Co. Ltd. and Asahi Kasei Corp. do the latter. [The Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun (business and technology) May 11, 2005]

(8) Taiyo Oil Co. Ltd.
Taiyo Oil Co. Ltd. announced that it participates the large-scale demonstration project by NEF as an energy supplier. By cooperation with local governments, it will install totally 8 LP gas fueled stationary PEFC systems, namely one in an asylum for the aged and 4 in homes in Imabari City and 3 systems in public facilities in Matsuyama City. The systems are products by Toshiba Fuel Cell Power Systems Corp., and it was set forth that the output, the electric efficiency and the overall efficiency are 700 W, 34% (LHV) and 79% (LHV), respectively. The demonstration will start in September as a 2 year program, and commercialization in 2008 is aimed. [The Chemical Daily May 17, 2005 and The Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun (business and technology) May 20, 2005]
4.FCV Forefront
(1) Mitsubishi Motors Corp.
Until now the company has made the development cooperatively with DimlarChrysler Co., but it is changed to an independent development. The company will not make development of FC per se which needs vast investment, and it will be concentrated in development of FCV bodies. Since the company has been making development of electric vehicles since seventies and its technology can be converted to FCV, the company thinks that the independent development is possible by applying hitherto accumulated technology. The company is considering injection of new FCV by its independent development into the market after fall of 2006, as well as a four-wheel driven car. [The Yomiuri Shimbun April 18, 2005]

(2) China
In the 10th program (2001 – 2005) of the 863 project for technological development in energy field in China, the Chinese government appropriates about 880 million yuan (about 11.5 billion yen) for FCV development. Subsidiary is also given to gSuper 2 (Choetsu 2go)h under maintenance. gFCV is now under R and D, but our target is that we will produce FCV competitive in the price with gasoline engine cars after 15 yearsh said Prof. Sun (the Vice-Dean of Automobile Department, Shanghai Tongji University), showing his self-confidence. Prof. Sun has been independently developing FCV named gSuperh. [The Mainichi Shimbun April 23, 2005]

(3) Toyota Motors Corp. and General Motors Corp
The two companies are negotiating establishment of a joint venture to strengthen cooperation in development of FCV. It will probably be one of agenda in negotiation between Mr. Cho, the President of Toyota Motors Corp. and Mr. Wagner, the Chairman of General Motors Corp. It is the policy of the joint venture to make full range of development from basic components like FC stacks to trial car manufacturing, and furthermore future cooperative production will be discussed. However, because it takes long time to widely propagate FCV, cooperative development has effect on reduction of development cost, but it is not sure that the cooperation is quick acting for GM in business slump. [The Yomiuri Shimbun and The Mainichi Shimbun, Masy 11, 2005, The Asahi Shimbun, The Nihon Keizai Shimbun, The Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun (business and technology) and The Chugoku Shimbun May 12, 2005, The Nikkan Jidosha Shimbun (automobile) May 13, 2005, and The Chunichi Shimbun, The Aichi Shimbun and The Tokyo Shimbun May 15, 2005]

(4) Toyota Motors Corp. etc.
Toyota Motors Corp. and Toyoda Gosei Co. have made development of high pressure tank of hydrogen compressed up to 35 MPa, and they will install the tank in the new FCV. In Japan Toyota Motors Corp., Honda R&D Co. Ltd. and Nissan Motor Co. are making development of FCV independently, but a compressed hydrogen tank up to 35 MPa used in this country is either a product of a US company, Quantum Tech. Inc. or a product of a Canadian company, Dynetek Industries Ltd. In the newly made high-pressure hydrogen tank, resin impregnated filaments are wound on a base body (filament winding) and resin is lined, so that it is a container of complex materials. Nylon resin, which has high performance for preventing hydrogen permeation, is used and carbon fiber is wound on the outside of the tank. Therefore, the tank thickness can be thin bringing light weight, and furthermore, reliability and capacity efficiency are improved by changing mouthpiece structure. The two companies are making development to produce tanks up to 70 MPa. [The Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun (business and technology) May 16, 2005, The Yomiuri Shimbun, The Mainichi Shimbun, The Nihon Keizai Shimbun, The Nikkei Sangyo Shimbun (industries and technology), The Chunichi Shimbun and The Nikkan Jidosha Shimbun (automobile) May 17, 2005, and The Tekko Shimbun (iron and steel) and The Chemical Daily May 18, 2005]

(5) JARI
Japan Automobile Research Institute finished the construction of a facility for FCV safety evaluation and introduction of a facility for testing liquid hydrogen in Shirosato Test Center. Hitherto they will start safety evaluation of FCV and hydrogen fueled cars, test of 70 MPa hydrogen tank and safety demonstration test of interface between a station and a liquid hydrogen tank, for which boiling-off is a problem.
5.FC Power for Mobiles
On May 10, 2005 Kurimoto Ltd. published that it has developed a wheelchair, in which a hybrid system of lithium ion batteries and FC is installed, and that it also developed new separators for PEFC. Kurimoto Ltd. made contract on exclusive technology transfer for domestic use of PEFC with a venture named APFCT in Taiwan. In the published wheelchair 250 W air cooled PEFC made by the venture, 4 cylinders of hydrogen absorbing alloy and lithium ion batteries are installed. The total weight is 60 kg and the continuous duration time is 10 hours. The company is developing separators of stainless steel for PEFC at the same time, and it aims to inject PEFC driven wheelchairs and small mobiles like cars for the aged into the market of 1,000 set size. [The Asahi Shimbun, The Nihon Keizai Shimbun, The Nikei Sangyo Shimbun (industries and technology), The Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun (business and technology), The Tekko Shimbun (iron and steel), The Chemical Daily, and Fuji Sankei Business Eye (May 11, 2005), The Yomiuri Shimbun (May 14, 2005), and The Mainichi Shimbun and The Tekko Shimbun (iron and steel) May 19, 2005]
6.Technological Development of Reforming and Hydrogen Production
A research group, consisted of Prof.. Domen of Technology Faculty of Tokyo University, Prof. Inoue of Technology Faculty of Nagaoka University of Technology and so on, has succeeded in hydrogen production from water by using wide spectrum range of solar light and visible light responsible catalyst. The catalyst is solid solution of gallium nitride and zinc oxide, which is formed by sintering powder mixture of zinc oxide and gallium oxide at 850 under ammonium atmosphere. Photo-catalyst used now is titanium oxide. It absorbs ultraviolet light of shorter wavelength than visible light and shows catalytic activity, but it is not active in visible light range. This nitride catalyst shows catalytic activity in longer wave length range to about 500nm (absorption edge). Hereafter material of nitride with addition of tantalum sulfide will be investigated and practical applicability will be found in several years. [The Chemical Daily May 2, 2005]
7.Technological Development of Hydrogen Storage
US National Institute of Standard and Technology (NIST) has developed computer-aided design method of carbon nano-tube surface covered with metal like titanium. Since the metallic decoration has ability of hydrogen intake, there is possibility to drastically improve performance of hydrogen storage, if it an be produced in large scale. According to NIST, hydrogen storage up to 8% in weight ratio could be achieved. [The Nihon Keizai Shimbun May 16, 2005]
8.Development of DMFC and Small Size FC
(1) Seiko Instruments Inc.
Sieko Instruments Inc. has developed micro-PEFC generating electric power by taking hydrogen out of metal hydride at room temperature. Hydrogen evolution is controlled by pressure change in FC, so that auxiliary components like a pump and a heater is not needed. Down sizing is easy, because of high voltage generation. Hydrogen is formed by reaction of boron sodium hydride with malic acid in catalyst solution, and when pressure in the hydrogen producer and PEFC cells increases, a valve is closed to stop hydrogen supply. Reversely, when the pressure decreases, the valve connecting the hydrogen producer and the catalyst solution container is opened to automatically supply the catalyst solution to the hydrogen producer. The dimensions of the trial cells are 125 mm X 50 mm X 30 mm, and the cells can supply electric power of 1 W at 5 V for about 8 hours. Commercialization in 2007 fiscal year is the target. [The Nikkei Sangyo Shimbun (industries and technology) May 11, 2005]

(2) GS-Yuasa Corp.
GS-Yuasa Corp. (Kyoto City) developed a portable DMFC system gYFC-1000.h It is simple in installation as a stand-alone power source, and safe and easy in handling. The output is 1,000 VA in its maximum. For the present, it is supplied as a sample in the fields of power sources for agricultural facilities and for emergency power sources in disasters. Demand exploration will be made in outdoor power sources for camping etc., power sources for remote sensing, power sources for robots and so on. [The Tekko Shimbun (iron and steel) May 12, 2005]
9.Development of Bio-FC
(1) The Tohoku University
It was announced that Prof. Nishizawafs research group in Technology Faculty of The Tohoku University has succeeded in development of Bio-FC, which generates electricity using glucose and oxygen in blood. This was done in collaboration with Daiichi Pure Chemicals Co.. It is a possibility to use it as a power source for a medical device implanted in a body. The size of the FC is about 1 yen coin, and glucose takes a role of hydrogen. The power was about 0.2 mW. The research group is making a plan to implant the bio-FC in an animal body within 3 years. [The Yomiuri Shimbun, The Asahi Shimbun, The Nihon Keizai Shimbun, The Nikkei Sangyo Shimbun (industries and technology), The Chemical Daily May 13, 2005 and The Kahoku Shimbun May 18, 2005]

(2) Bio-venture from Tokyo University of Agriculture and Technology
A bio-venture, Ultizyme International Corp., evolved from The Tokyo University of Agriculture and Technology invented gFC type enzyme sensorh which directly send signal of sugar concentration. In the sensor, enzyme adhered on an electrode transfers electrons formed by enzyme reaction to the electrode, and thus it works as the sensor. The electrode of the sensor could be as small as a needle of needle therapy. In this sensor a controller for extracting signal in galvanometer-type sensor is not needed, and the sensor can be downsized. [Fuji Sankei Business Eye May 19, 2005]
10.Forecast of FC Market
Fuji Keizai Co. finished research on market trend of FC systems. Expecting increase in home use and information terminal devices, it is forecasted that the home use FC market increases to 15.2 billion yen and those for personal computers of notebook type and for mobile phones will be 20.7 billion yen in 2010 fiscal year. [The Nikkei Sangyo Shimbun (industries and technology) April 48, 2005]
11.Business Activities by Firms
(1) Daiichi Kigenso Kagakukogyo Co.
The company will construct a new factory for production of fine ceramics and zirconium compounds for SOFC in an industrial complex (Technoport Fukui) in Fukui City. The investment amounts to 4 billion yen, and the production ability will be about 2,500 ton. The production will be started in fall of 2007. The company has production technology of SOFC electrolyte materials, such as YSZ and ScSZ, and the company has intention to expand its business to large fields including electrodes. [The Nihon Keizai Shimbun May 9, 2005, The Nikkei Sangyo Shimbun (industries and technology) May 10, 2005 and The Chemical Daily May 12, 2005]

(2) Eiwa Corp.
The company decided to strengthen cooperation with academic sector to promote development of new metrical products for FC. Firstly the R & D division will be established and two staffs will be dispatched to The Ibaraki University to improve MEA performance

------------ This edition is made up as of May 20, 2005. ---------------

A POSTER COLUMN

Present Status of SOFC Development and Its Roadmap As to the present performance of stationary SOFC, the electric efficiency of small size and medium size SOFC is 40% or less and the life is 10,000 hours. Thus it has high efficiency and high performance in comparison with the other FC, but the production cost is high and it is estimated to be 10 million yen/kW at present. According to the committee on roadmap for development of FC and hydrogen technology by NEDO, it is aimed that the electric efficiency would be improved to 42% and the life would be improved to 40,000 hours from 2007 to 2020. The electric efficiency of 45% and the life of 90,000 hours are the target about 2030. The production cost of the SOFC system is aimed to 250,000 yen/kW assuming 300,000 kW production scale. On the other hand, as to the large scale SOFC of several MW, evaluation of hybrid systems will start in 2007, while examination will be made to utilize various fuels including liquid fuels in addition to gas. A scenario stated that the electric efficiency would be over 60% and the production cost would be less than 100,000 yen/kW in 2020 – 2030. Thus practical use of the large-scale hybrid systems would be realized. Elucidating deterioration mechanism and its preventing method, cost reduction and improvement of performance are important in SOFC development. The situation is quite the same as in the other FC. However, technological development for operating large-scale systems and utilizing multiple fuels are also thought to be important as tasks characteristic to SOFC.


*(note) For readersf information, an industry covered by a specialized newspaper is shown in parenthesis after the Japanese name of the newspaper. For general newspapers such coverage is not shown.