(1) The Japan Gas Association etc.
In collaboration with the Japan Electric Manufacturers Association (JEMA) and the Japan Gas Appliances Inspection Association, the Japan Gas Association installed 8 sets of PEFC and 2 sets of SOFC in the former association and started their test operation. The SOFC were installed by Kyocera Inc. and also by a group of Osaka Gas Co., Ltd. and Sumitomo Precision Products Co., Ltd. The purpose is regulation relaxation for installing SOFC in general homes and for business uses. Further regulation relaxation and large cost reduction of PEFC are also aimed at. The SOFC will be tested and the data will be gathered in 2006 fiscal year, and the results will be used for the regulation relaxation in 2007 fiscal year. [The Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun (business and technology) Jan. 18, 2006]
(2) National Institute for Advanced Industrial Science and Technology
On January 18, 2006 the National Institute for Advanced Industrial Science and Technology published that it had succeeded in development of small tubular micro SOFC working at low temperature of 500 –
600oC. The size of the micro SOFC is l cm in length and 0.8−1.6 mm in diameter. Break-down of the ceramics by thermal stress is prevented by the tubular shape. The fuel electrode is ceria base ion-conducting ceramics, and in the air electrode lanthanum cobalt ceria base ceramics is used. In experiment using 1.6 mm diameter micro SOFC the output density of 0.17 – 1
W/cm2 was observed by feeding hydrogen at the temperature from
450oC to 570oC. One hundred of the micro SOFC of 0.8 mm diameter can be stacked up, and the output density was estimated to be 7−15
W/cm3 (volume), if it is realized. Hereafter, stack up of the cells will be examined, and the final aim is establishment of manufacturing technology of small size high efficiency stack modules [The Denki Shimbun (electricity), The Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun (business and technology), and The Chemical Daily Jan. 19,2006. The Nikkei Sangyo Shimbun (industry and technology) Jan. 30, 2006]
(3) Hosokawa Micron Corp.
On January 19, 2006 a subsidiary company of Hosokawa Micron Corp., Hosokawa Powder Technology Research Institute (Hirakata city) set forth that it succeeded in development of new electrode materials for SOFC. Utilizing its unique nano materials technology, it created fuel electrodes using nickel ceria base materials. When particles used in the electrodes become the finer, it becomes the more difficult to disperse them, because of the particle growth. The institute succeeded in high dispersion of fine electrode powders of 100−200 nm diameter by fully using its unique mechano-chemical bonding technology. By this technology it can be realized that the operating temperature of SOFC decreases down to
600oC and the start-up time is shortened to 1/3, they stated. Because of the low operating temperature the range of materials selection becomes wide, and thus it leads to cost reduction. Applying the new electrode the company is planning to promote cost reduction and to begin real materials supply within several years. [The Nikkei Sangyo Shimbun (industry and technology), The Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun (business and technology), The Chemical Daily Jan. 20, 2006.].
2.Development of PEFC Elementary Technologies
(1) Saitama Institute of Technology and Ecodevice Corp.
Prof. Tanaka of Saitama Institute of Technology, Ecodevice Corp. etc. succeeded in development of an electrode, which keeps its enough activity even in atmosphere of high CO concentration. It is the point that when the electrode is poisoned, it recovers in a short time, so that catalyst for removing CO becomes unnecessary. This was confirmed by introducing it in PEFC. Hereafter long time stability test will be done and they aim at its real use.
In this electrode platinum is used, but it is specially treated. It showed decrease in output in hydrogen containing CO at about 800 ppm, but it kept about 70% output of the initial output. Furthermore it was observed that even if the surface of the electrode is poisoned, it instantaneously recovers by flowing hydrogen of high purity. They think that it is possible to produce electrodes, which are highly endurable in 1% CO concentration. If it is realized, large downsizing and cost reduction in PEFC can be expected. [The Chemical Daily Jan. 23, 2006.]
(2) Asahi Glass Engineering, Ltd.
The company will promote application of hollow fiber type air drier “Sunsep-w” in FC systems. This product is made of non-porous fluorocarbon membrane of high water vapor permeability, and it is suitable to use it for humidifying and dehumidifying air and other gases. In PEFC humidifying air and hydrogen is necessary to increase reaction rate, so that the company will work on FC makers to use it by suggesting its applicability to hydrogen humidification. [The Chemical Daily Jan. 24, 2006.]
(3) Toppan Printing Co., Ltd. and Tokyo Institute of Technology
Together with an assistant professor Hara of Tokyo Institute of Technology, Toppan Printing Co., Ltd. has developed new electrolyte membrane for PEFC. In this new electrolyte membrane, solid acid based on aromatic polycyclic sulfonic acid of high proton conductivity is dispersed in resin, and it is confirmed that this membrane has the same performance as conventional fluorocarbon membrane. In addition to the proton conductivity its heat resistance is also high, and the solid acid is not soluble in water though it is strong acid. It is available at very low cost, so that it is thought that the cost can be greatly reduced compared with conventional fluorocarbon membrane. The company will optimize the resin and it has intention to realize its real use in 2008 fiscal year. [The Chemical Daily Jan. 24, 2006 and The Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun (business and technology) Feb. 3, 2006.]
(4) JSR Corp.
On Jan. 25, 2006 JSR Corp. published that it developed electrolyte membrane of aromatic structure. It is hydrocarbon, but it has better function than fluorocarbon membrane by device on fundamental design of polymeric structure. The company developed, in collaboration with Honda R&D Co., Ltd., PEFC stacks for Honda’s FCV “FCX,” and in addition to this “Aromatic Electrolyte Membrane” this technology will be deployed into portable DMFC and home-use FC.
In comparison with conventional fluorocarbon electrolyte membrane, the concentration of ion exchanging
SO3- group becomes high, so that the proton conductivity is high and the resistance below
0oC is low. Because it is superior in gas blocking, thermal distortion, environmental stability etc., it enables electric generation in a wide temperature range from –20oC to
95oC. Moreover the company developed membrane modified for DMFC and it has balanced characteristics between output performance and methanol permeability.
In the Tsukuba research center a secmi-commercial plant was established and the supply of the product was started. [The Dempa Shimbun (radio wave), The Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun (business and technology), The Nikkan Jidosha Shimbun (automobile) and The Chemical Daily Jan. 26, 2006. The Nikkei Sangyo Shimbun Jan. 27, 2006]
(5) US 3M
The company is making development of MEA using Nano Structured Thin Film (NSTF) catalyst. This is catalyst of high endurance and high performance without carbon carrier. Because platinum used is less than conventional one, it will contribute to cost reduction. NSFT catalyst is active in catalytic activity and superior in chemical, thermal and electrochemical stabilities. The catalytic layer is formed in thin film membrane. Because of high performance, the thickness can be greatly reduced down to 1 micron m, and the platinum loading is only 0.12
mg/cm2. Furthermore, amount of fluorine solved out of fluorocarbon membrane is 1/75 in comparison with conventional fluorocarbon membrane using conventional platinum loading carbon catalyst. Thus it is thought that the life is 15−20 times elongated. In Japan Sumitomo 3 M, Ltd. is also making the development and production. [The Chemical Daily Jan. 27, 2006.]
(6) Nagasaki Institute of Applied Science
Nagasaki Institute of Applied Science developed a new promising technology by which platinum amount can be greatly reduced. In this new technology paste containing platinum is not painted on all surface of an electrode, but the paste is printed as dots on an electrode. The used platinum amount is reduced to half, the same level electric generation is kept. [Nihon Keizai Shimbun Jan. 27, 2006]
(7) FJ Composite Materials Co., Ltd.
FJ Composite Materials Co., Ltd. (Fuji city), Seiko Giken Inc. and Konishiyasu Co., Ltd. have intention to increase sales of newly developed composite materials and the fourth generation carbon resin separator of reduced cost by a high rate mass production process. FJ carbon developed by FJ Composite Materials Co., Ltd. is phenol resin coated graphite particles of 16−20 micron m size, and they established a process in which the separators are fabricated and cured in the room temperature under atmospheric pressure in mass production scale. [The Chemical Daily Jan. 31, 2006/]
3.Demonstration of Home-use PEFC
(1) FCCJ (Fuel Cell Commercialization Conference of Japan)
On installation of home-use FC, FCCJ issues a sticker which is common in Japan. The total distributed number becomes over 200. The common sticker is planned by intention to increase realization of FC introduction and also publicity of propagation of FC installation. No. 1 sticker is in the prime minister’s official residence where the FC was installed in April of 2005. [The Denki Shimbun (electricity) Jan. 16, 2006.]
(2) Toho Gas Co., Ltd.
Toho Gas Co., Ltd. will enlarge monitoring introduction range of home-use PEFC cogeneration systems into general homes since April of 2006. In 2007 fiscal year 50−100 sets will be installed for monitoring, and real propagation will start since 2010. [The Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun (business and technology) Jan. 17, 2006.]
(3) Nippon Oil Corp.
Nippon Oil Corp. began to recruit monitors. For this purpose the company prepares 600 sets of home-use PEFC cogeneration system, consisting of 500 sets of LPG fueled FC and 100 sets of kerosene fueled FC. The monitors are requested to install one of them and they are also requested to supply the operation data. All will be installed in detached houses, and areas are designated for FC of each specification. The contract period is 3 years and the rate is 60,000 yen per year. [The Asahi Shimbun Jan. 21, 2006. The Chemical Daily Jan. 23, 2006.]
The company started cooperative development of home-use PEFC together with a Shanghai Jiao Tong University. In the course of cooperative development, technical licenses will be given to the university and also this development will lead to market exploitation in China. The university established an FC research institute, and cooperative development will be done through information exchange meetings to be held several times per year. [The Fuji Sankei Business Eye Feb. 3, 2006.]
(4) Asano Industry Co.
The company (Okayama city) installed a home-use PEFC cogeneration system of LP gas specification at a detached house in Okayama city. [The San-yo Shimbun Jan. 27, 2006.]
(5) Toho Gas Co., Ltd.
Toho Gas Co., Ltd. will install home-use PEFC systems in customers’ houses in 3 prefectures of Tokai district after May of 2006 and will begin monitoring test. [The Chunichi Shimbun Jan. 27, 2006.]
(6) Seibu Gas Co., Ltd.
Seibu Gas Co., Ltd. started in-site demonstration of home-use PEFC systems since January of 2006. 10 sets were installed in employees’ houses and data are being gathered. [The Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun (business and technology) and The Nishi Nihon Shimbun Jan. 31, 2006.]
(1) Tokyo Seiden Co., Ltd.
On Jan. 23, 2006 the company announced that the company developed FCV “FC Café” in which FC made by this company is installed and it can be used as a mobile shop. A cooking space by energy from FC is made in the rear part of the car, and it is imagined that the car would be used in an event or a disaster. For power sources hydrogen cylinders (500L×2), a FC system, lead acid batteries and an electric double layer capacitor are set, and it can run on public roads. [The Nihon Keizai Shimbun and The Shinano Mainichi Shimbun Jan. 24, 2006. The Nikkei Sangyo Shimbun (industry and technology) and The Nikkan Jidosha Shimbun (automobile) Jan. 25, 2006. The Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun (business and technology) Jan. 26, 2006. The Nihon Keizai Shimbun Jan. 30, 2006.]
(2) Honda R&D Co., Ltd.
Honda R&D Co., Ltd. announced that new FCV would be released within 3−4 years. The real cars will be developed based on the “FCX concept” car exhibited in Tokyo Motor Show in October of 2005 and they will be sold in worldwide scale. [The Tekko Shimbun (iron and steel) Jan. 27, 2006.]
5.Development of Hydrogen Technologies for Formation, Purification, Storage and Transportation
(1) Mitsui Mining Co., Ltd.
In cooperation with Babcock-Hitachi K. K. etc., the company begins technology development for producing hydrogen by reforming gas from a cokes oven (COG). The purpose is to produce synthetic gas by thermal decomposition of the tar content utilizing sensible heat in COG, and the synthetic gas can be converted industrially to liquid fuel, such as methanol, DME etc. This development draws attention as a movement aiming at real use of GTL(Gas to Liquids). In latter half of 2006 fiscal year they will construct a demonstration plant in a cokes factory of the Kitakyushu work, and they are planning to make demonstration of producing hydrogen in the form of methanol or DME. If the technology is developed to produce hydrogen in large scale and at low cost from COG, demand would be increased in hydrogen supply for FCV. [The Tekko Shimbun (iron and steel) Jan. 19, 2006.]
(2) Hrein Energy, INC
On January 24, 2006 Hrein Energy, INC (Sapporo city) and Catalysis Chemistry Research Center of Hokkaido University (Prof. Ichikawa and his group) published that they developed a small equipment for storage and release of hydrogen at high efficiency. Hydrogen is stored in the form of organic hydrides by reacting with petrochemical materials, such as benzene. They developed the equipment in cooperation with an institute for research of aluminum surface, and it is unique point that platinum particle is adsorbed on aluminum oxide thin film, while it is used as catalyst for reacting hydrogen with benzene etc. It is much more efficient than conventional catalyst of mixed active carbon and platinum, and downsizing can be realized by this catalyst. Volume of the new equipment is about 1/30 for the same capacity, and hydrogen can be stored or released at 20 L/min. at the maximum. [The Hokkaido Shimbun Jan. 25, 2006.]
Flain Energy begins commercialization of a hydrogen storage and release system, in which hydrogen is stored in the form of organic hydrides (with toluene and/or naphthalene). The development and demonstration of the equipment were done in collaboration with Hokkaido University. By combining with a system of windmill and water electrolysis Hitachi Zosen Corp. developed, they began commercialization of the system for highly efficient storage of hydrogen obtained by windmill generation. [The Chemical Daily Jan. 25, 2006. The Denki Shimbun (electricity) Jan. 26, 2006. The Fuji Sankei Business Eye Jan. 28, 2006.]
(3) Mitsubishi Kakoki Kaisha Ltd.
The company developed a new hydrogen production equipment for LP gas and it started activity for accepting orders on January 24, 2006. It is a hydrogen reforming equipment of internal combustion type and hydrogen gas of more than 99.999% purity is obtained by thermal decomposition of LP gas to hydrogen. Three varieties of equipments, whose capacities are 50
Nm3/h, 100 Nm3/h and 200
Nm3/h, will be commercialized in a series of “HyGeia,” and the line-up will be fulfilled in addition to equipments for town gas. [The Chemical Daily Jan. 25, 2006. The Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun (business and technology) Jan. 27, 2006. The Nikkei Sangyo Shimbun (industry and technology) Jan. 30, 2006.]
Ishikawajima-Harima Heavy Industries Co., Ltd. has developed Pd-ZnO based highly active catalyst, which will replace conventional Cu-ZnO based catalyst in hydrogen formation for PEFC. The company established mass production technology of nano-structured palladium component, which was hard to realize till now, and high efficiency and long life in hydrogen formation have been achieved. Thus realization of new auto-thermal methanol reformers appears in sight. [The Chemical Daily Jan. 26, 2006.]
(5) TECHNO BANK Co., Ltd.
The company has developed technology for storing and producing large amount of hydrogen using fine powder of
MgH2. The characteristic point is to store and produce 15.3% hydrogen, and the performance is higher than conventional aluminum hydride complex. By laser irradiation MgO is reduced to Mg, and then
MgH2 powder is formed by stowing hydrogen atoms among Mg atoms. Adding ignition preventing film, the product is completed.
MgH2 is carried and stored safely by watertight package. In Magcycle program the company is imagining, the products of
MgH2 packed in a cassette are distributed among supermarkets and convenience stores and used in FC, hydrogen engines and so on.
In a new FC called “DWFC,” water produced in FC is circulated for hydrolysis of
MgH2 to produce hydrogen. Adding hydrogen stored among Mg atoms, the weight ratio of hydrogen production is 15.317%, and therefore 220% hydrogen is to be produced. The conversion ratio is 94% and much larger than that of DMFC, so that the volume of the equipment per unit power generation becomes much smaller. The product of
Mg(OH)2 in hydrogen production can be reduced by excitation laser irradiation, and it can also be used in other usages, such as medical products, industrial materials, soil reforming materials, flame retardant etc.
The company has intention to produce MgH2 and new type FC of these characteristic points in Japan and overseas. It is planning to establish companies as strategic stronghold in US, China and Germany as well as in Japan, and it is looking for business partners for business deployment including investment. [The Chemical Daily Jan. 26, 2006.]
(6) FCC Co., Ltd.
A group of FCC Co., Ltd. (Hamamatsu city) and an assistant professor Kitaoka of Kyushu University developed paper like products for producing hydrogen. By full use of papermaking technology of the company, they succeeded in impregnating copper base catalyst in paper. The thickness is 1 mm and powdered catalyst is contained in voids of several to several ten micron m within the paper. Since it is made of paper, it can be cut with scissors, so that various shapes of the paper can be made. Hydrogen production from methanol with this paper catalyst is the same as that with conventional powder catalyst, but formation of CO with this catalyst was reduced by 40% compared with the powder catalyst. [The Chunichi Shimbun Jan. 27, 2006.]
(7) Tokyo Gas Co., Ltd. and NGK Spark Plug Co., Ltd.
These two companies, in collaboration, have developed main components (module) of a reformer necessary in downsizing of hydrogen production equipment. In the process for reforming town gas, catalytic function for reforming is added to hydrogen separating membrane. Thus volume reduction of the reformer can be made; the area can be decreased to 1/4 and the volume is decreased to about 1/6. The invented thing is “hydrogen separation membrane module unified with catalyst,” a test tube-like ceramics of 9 mm diameter and 100 mm length. The catalytic function is attached on the inner surface and the separation membrane of filter function is formed on the outside surface. Space for filling powder catalyst in a conventional equipment is unnecessary. When methane, main component in town gas, is introduced .at a rate of 6 cc/min, pure hydrogen is formed at a rate of 10 cc/min. [The Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun (business and technology) Feb. 3, 2006.]
6.Technological Development of micro FC and DMFC
(1) Tokuyama Corp.
Tokuyama Corp. has invented new electrolyte membrane for FC using inexpensive iron, nickel etc. With this new membrane they achieved almost the same electric efficiency as DMFC. This membrane is anion exchange membrane of hydrocarbon, and the electrode reaction proceeds by migrating hydroxide ion from the air electrode to the fuel electrode. The output density is 50
mW/cm2 and it is almost the same as DMFC. The cost can be largely decreased. The company intends to sell it to makers of portable phones and personal computers aiming at the cost reduction. [The Nikkei Sangyo Shimbun (industry and technology) Jan. 23, 2006.]
(2) Kuraray Co., Ltd.
Kuraray Co., Ltd. developed electrolyte membrane, with which the electric efficiency can be increased in micro DMFC. The material is thermoplastic elastomer, and the thickness is about 50 micron m. Hitherto membranes of porous fluorocarbon base materials or porous hydrocarbon materials are used for hydrogen ions to migrate through the membrane. However, beside hydrogen ions methanol molecules can also migrate because of pore size distribution, and this crossover of methanol is one of causes for decrease in electric generation performance. The new membrane is developed by applying polymer handling technology, and hydrogen ions of small diameter can only migrate selectively through super-micro “hydrogen ion channel” formed on the surface. The hydrogen permeability increases by 1.5 times, while the crossover of methanol is decreased to 60%, and thus the maximum output is improved by 1.6 times. The company will make mass production of MEA using this membrane since 2008. [The Nikkei Sangyo Shimbun (industry and technology) Jan. 24, 2006. The Chemical Daily Jan. 25, 2006.]
(3) Korean Samsung SDI
A Korean company, Samsung SDI succeeded in development of a trial product of DMFC for portable multimedia players (PMP). It was done in collaboration with a company in the same group, Samsung Advanced Institute of Technology (SAIT). By one charge 8 short movies of about 30 min can be reproduced with PMP of 1.5 W electric consumption. By changing a cartridge of 20
cm3 liquid methanol, the newly developed DMFC can work again. Now, powerful FC for PMP of more than 10 hour duration by one charge is under development in collaboration with SAIT [The Dempa Shimbun (radio wave) Feb. 3, 2006.].
------------ This edition is made up as of February 3, 2006. ---------------