(1) Ministry of Land, Transport and Infrastructure
On Feb. 7, 2006 the ministry published that demonstration of FC buses would be started in Tokoname city near Chubu International Airport and Hannda city (both are in Aichi prefecture). The buses are those used for transportation between Seto venue and Nagakute venue of Aichi World Exposition, and the capacity is 63 passengers. It is in a series of activities for establishing standards of large FCV’s like buses, and data concerning performances of stability and environment will be gathered through this test operation. Chita Bus Co., Ltd. is entrusted to manage the operation. [The Nikkan Jidosha Shimbun (automobile) and The Chunichi Shimbun Feb. 8, 2005.]
(2) Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, and Osaka Prefecture
Test experiments of FC’s by the ministry will be started in Osaka prefecture since 2006 fiscal year. Trial products using FC, such as wheelchairs, motor-driven carts, motor-assisted bicycles and emergency power sources, are the objects, and these products will be used for monitoring by the general users. Based on comments by the monitors, trial products will be modified and commercialization will be aimed at in this 5 year program. In the program hydrogen stations for FCV will be installed in a site owned by the prefecture near the office of Osaka Prefecture and also in Kansai International Airport in 2006 fiscal year. Furthermore, mobile supplying systems will also be established to regularly deliver hydrogen cylinders to welfare equipments like wheelchairs. In the first year about 300 million yen will be allocated to installation costs of hydrogen stations. [The Sankei Shimbun Feb. 18, 2006 and The Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun (business and technology) Feb. 27 and March 1.]
2.R&D of MCFC
Central Research Institute of Electric Power Industry started a new phase of MCFC demonstration by installing MCFC manufacturing facility of several kW scale in its energy technology institute. This is follow up research to find out measures of large cost reduction for commercialization. Hitachi Ltd., Ishikawajima-Harima Heavy Industry Co., Ltd., materials companies and Mitsui Co., Ltd. joined in this research. Technology of manufacturing electrode plates and electrolyte plates is under development, in which slurry of nickel and lithium aluminate is molded into tapes and sintered at 1000oC after drying. Manufacturing and demonstration of MCFC of several kW output are planned.
In the world, American FCE has installed MCFC in 40 sites, and German MTU intends to increase installation. Possibility that MCFC becomes a core of dispersed electric power sources is increasing in Europe. In Korea POSCO corp. is searching possibility of production and Korea Southeast Electric Power Co.(KOSEP) is planning introduction. [The Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun (business and technology) March 6, 2006.]
3.Technological Development of SOFC
(1) Nihon University
In cooperation with Illinois University in US, an assistant professor, Prof. Nomura, of Nihon University developed technology for making YSZ plate of 5 micron m thickness for SOFC at inexpensive cost. Fine powder of YSZ suspended in methanol is blown on the electrode and then it is heated at
1300oC. The powder particles adhere each other to form thin film. The trial product is as large as a 500 yen coin, and it seems feasible to make it 10 cm square size. In contrast with conventional technology vacuum is not needed, so that Prof. Nomura expects “The manufacturing cost can be greatly reduced.” [The Nikkei Sangyo Shimbun (industries and technology) Feb. 28, 2006.]
(2) The Japan Gas Association
The association started operating research of FC’s for standardization of the components and systems. The aims are regulation relaxation of SOFC for home-use and business-use, further regulation relaxation of PEFC and large cost reduction. [The Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun (business and technology) Feb. 28, 2006.]
(3) Mitsui Mining and Smelting Co., Ltd.
Mitsui Mining and Smelting Co., Ltd. has developed high-performance SOFC, which can be operated at a low temperature. Although ceria base materials are used, the internal resistance is decreased by making electrolyte thin film, and thus the output density of 0.9
W/cm2 was achieved at the operating temperature of
600oC. Moreover, endurance over 400 hours (0.4
A/cm2 load at 600oC) was realized by densification of the electrolyte membrane. Using mixture of nickel oxide and ceria doped with samarium oxide (SDC), porous base plates of controlled pore size are made. Then paste of SDC for electrolyte membrane is spin-coated on the base plate, and it is sintered to form dense thin film of good coherence. Thus thin film cells were made. In generation experiment 3% humidified hydrogen gas is used as anode gas and air is used for the cathode. As current collectors gold mesh was used for the anode and platinum mesh is used for the cathode. Small cells of 10 – 20 mm diameter were tested in this experiment, and large cells of 50 – 100 mm diameter are now being manufactured as trial products. Improvement of the endurance is also being pursued. [The Chemical Daily March 9, 2006.]
4.Development of PEFC Elementary Technologies
(1) Yamanashi University
On Feb. 7, 2006 Clean Energy Research Center of Yamanashi University published that it developed electrolyte membrane of low cost and long endurance. By using hydrocarbon materials, the production cost becomes several thousands
yen/m2 and it passed 5,000 hour endurance test. [The Nikkei Sangyo Shimbun (industries and technology) Feb. 8, 2006 and The Chemical Daily Feb. 9, 2006.]
(2) Asahi Glass Engineering, Ltd.
The company (Chiba city) decided to speed up development and commercialization of humidifiers for PEFC and to begin acceptance of order in the end of 2006 or the beginning of 2007. Its “hollow fiber gas humidifiers” were developed on the base of its commercialized dehumidifiers, and the power source is not needed. About 300 resin tubes of 0.8 inner diameter are set in the equipment, and by flowing hydrogen inside the tubes humidified hydrogen of more than 80 – 90% relative humidity is formed taking water from the outside of the tubes. The material of the tubes is non-porous membrane of fluorocarbon through which only water vapor is permeable. Because pores are not in the membrane, hydrogen leakage to the outside does not occur. It can be installed by simply setting it between the fuel tank and the cells. [The Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun (business and technology) Feb. 23, 2006.]
5.Demonstration of Home-use PEFC Systems and Decision of Business Guidelines
(1) Fuji Electric Advanced Technology Co. Ltd., Seibu Gas Co. Ltd. and Kyushu University
These three organizations announced that they would carry out cooperative research on home-use FC cogeneration. [The Nishinihon Shimbun Feb. 11, 2006.]
(2) Hokkaido Northern Regional Building Research Institute and Nippon Oil Corp.
On Feb. 10 the above institute and the company started demonstration of kerosene-fueled home-use PEFC systems at the institute in Asahikawa city. The operating data in cold weather below –
10oC will be collected. [The Hokkaido Shimbun Feb. 11, 2006, The Denki Shimbun (electricity) and The Chemical Daily Feb. 13, 2006, The Nikkei Sangyo Shimbun (industries and technology) Feb. 20, 2006, The Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun (business and technology) Feb. 22, 2006, and the Kensetsu Tushin Shimbun (construction) Feb. 24, 2006.]
(3) Idemitsu Kosan Co., Ltd.
On Feb. 27, 2006 the company announced that operation of LPG fueled home-use PEFC systems started in 33 detached houses in 21 prefectures. The output is 700 W each. [The Nikkei Sangyo Shimbun (industries and technology) Feb. 28, 2006 and The Chemical Daily March 2, 2006.]
(4) Petroleum Association of Japan
This industrial association decided a guideline for installation of petroleum fueled FC in general homes as a standard by the association. While real marketing of petroleum specification FC is anticipated in the near future and the FC will be installed in various regional sites, there is possibility that some regulations are different from those of other regions and guidance by a local government is also different, so that the association intended smooth installation by decision of a unified and common guideline. “Committee for Drafting Standards” was organized in “The Technical Committee on FC Utilizing Petroleum” of the association, and they made the due process. The items in the standard are (1) safety measures, (2) installation and connection, (3) fuel shut down and piping, (4) construction, (5) sound noise, (6) negotiation for connecting with power grid, (7) inspection at transfer etc. Experience of installing FC for testing by participating companies, compatibility with present laws, and foreign standards, for instance by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), were taken into account. It is expected that this standard will be reflected in standard for all types of FC now under examination in Japan Electrical Manufacturing Association. [The Chemical Daily March 8, 2006.]
(1) Toyota Motor Corp. and General Motors Corp.
The two companies have been making collaborative research for development of FCV since 1999, but they decided break of this research at the end of March in 2006. They gave apriority to propagation of commercialized technology, such as hybrid cars. It becomes also apparent that these two companies and Exxon Mobil Corp. cancelled technological cooperation on fuel for FC. [The Asahi Shimbun Feb. 22, 2006, The Yomiuri Shimbun, The Mainichi Shimbun, The Nihon Keizai Shimbun, The Tokyo Shimbun and The Chunichi Shimbun March 3, 2006. The Fuji Sankei Business Eye, The Yomiuri Shimbun, The Asahi Shimbun, The Mainichi Shimbun, The Sankei Shimbun, The Nihon Keizai Shimbun, The Nikkan Jidosha Shimbun (automobile), The Chunichi Shimbun, The Chugoku Shimbun and The Nishinihon Shimbun March 4, 2006. The Nikkei Sangyo Shimbun (industries and technology) March 6, 2006.]
Japan Automobile Research Institute set forth the overall efficiency (W-t-W) of FCV. Primary energy needed for 1 km run is by 40% less than gasoline cars, and
CO2 exhaustion reduces by about 60%. These data were obtained by using top level FCV and a hydrogen station. [The Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun (business and technology) March 9, 2006.]
7.Construction of Hydrogen Stations
(1) Idemitsu Kosan Co., Ltd.
At Aichi Oil Refinery of the company in Chita city, the company completed a research facility where hydrogen production and shipment for FCV from byproduct gas will be studied. Hydrogen will be transported by a specific vehicle (a mobile hydrogen station) and it will provide FCV’s owned by Aichi Prefecture, Nagoya City and the company itself with hydrogen. The facility was constructed in cooperation with Petroleum Energy Center and Taiyo Nippon Sanso Corp. The budget for this research is about 300 million yen. [The Nikkei Sangyo Shimbun (industries and technology), The Chunichi Shimbun and The Chemical Daily Feb. 8, 2006.]
(2) Hitachi Industries Co., Ltd.
For FCV hydrogen stations Hitachi Industries Co., Ltd. has developed a hydrogen compressor, the compression performance of which is 15 times higher than a conventional one. Hydrogen in a tank carried by a truck is sucked at 0.6 MPa, and it is compressed with this compressor to 100 MPa. Then it is transferred to a storage tank in a hydrogen station. The compression process is consisting of 5 steps considering safety and performance. The truck carries hydrogen in the tank at 20 MPa and it is sucked at 0.6 MPa, so that almost all hydrogen can be transferred. This is a characteristic point. The rate of expelling hydrogen with this compressor was recorded to be 300 m3/h. The price is estimated to be over 100 million yen. [The Nikkei Sangyo Shimbun (industries and technology) Feb. 17, 2006.]
8.Development of Reforming, and Hydrogen Formation and Purification
(1) NGK Spark Plug Co., Ltd. and Tokyo Gas Co., Ltd.
On Feb. 8, 2006 NGK Spark Plug Co., Ltd. announced that it developed a component of an equipment which extracts hydrogen from town gas. This is done in cooperation with Tokyo Gas Co., Ltd. The component is a porous ceramics tube, and catalyst for separating hydrogen is painted on the inside. The volume of the equipment is about 1/6 in comparison with conventional metallic equipments. The performance test will be done within 2007 fiscal year in cooperation with Tokyo Gas Co., Ltd. and the company aimed at its real use. [The Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun (business and technology) and The Chunichi Shimbun Feb. 9, 2006.]
(2) JGC Corp.
The company is promoting development of an on-board system of reforming DME for FCV. By entrust of Japan Oil, Gas Metals Material Corp.(JOGMEC) the company has carried out development of an on-board 30 kW class water vapor reformer since 2003 fiscal year in collaboration with Osaka Gas Co., Ltd., Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Ltd., Mitsubishi Gas Chemical Co., Inc. and Renaissance Energy Research Corp.. Completion in 2006 fiscal year is expected. DME does not contain impurities, such as sulfur and halogen compounds, and it can be reformed below
400oC, so that possibility of downsizing is an advantage. The company is in charge of external heating type in its design, trial manufacturing and evaluation. [The Chemical Daily Feb. 15, 2006.]
(3) Kogakuin University
Prof. Saika and his group of Kogakuin University have developed an equipment to produce hydrogen from ammonia. In the newly developed equipment liquid ammonia is vaporized in reduced pressure, and then it is decomposed into hydrogen and nitrogen by heating the vapor at
800oC with catalyst of aluminum oxide covered with nickel. Un-reacted ammonia is removed by solving it into water, and thus hydrogen mixed only with nitrogen is obtained. The mixture can be used as FC fuel. In an experiment hydrogen was formed at the rate of 1.5 – 7.5 L/min by feeding liquid ammonia at the rate of 1 – 5 L/min. Synthesis of ammonia from fossil fuel produces
CO2, but hydrogen production without
CO2 exhaustion can be made, when excrement etc are used, Prof. Saika said. [The Nikkei Sangyo Shimbun (industries and technology) Feb. 20, 2006]
9.Development of DMFC and Micro FC
(1) Kanagawa Industrial Technology Research Institute
The institute developed a flexible micro DMFC. DMFC of micro-array is formed on a polymer base plate. Lightening of LED with the curved micro DMFC was succeeded. In this DMFC FC’s are packed into micro-pores of grid array. In the present micro DMFC FC’s are packed in 10 pores of 0.05 cm diameter arranged in series using a polysulfone base plate of 4 cm long, 1.5 cm wide and 0.02 cm thick, and the output of 3 mW/cm2 was obtained. The similar output was also obtained in the curved form. It was demonstrated that during 1,000 times bending, the output decayed gradually, but the electromotive force was not changed. Because this DMFC can be made of plastic base plates by drill technique, the production cost is cheaper than conventional micro DMFC. It is anticipated that manufacturing by injection molding could be done in the future. [The Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun (business and technology) Feb. 24, 2006.]
(2) National Institute for Material Science
A senior researcher, Dr. Mori, and his co-workers of Ecomaterials Centerr of the above institute has developed a new electrode which leads to high performance and low cost of portable micro DMFC. In the electrode this research group developed, cerium oxide is used instead of ruthenium, because the former is abundant in resources than the latter. By using technology for making fine spherical crystals of cerium oxide of several tens nm diameter, a combined electrode of platinum fine powder and the ceramics was created. The current density becomes 1.5 times larger than the conventional alloy electrode of platinum and ruthenium. By using this new electrode, rare ruthenium becomes unnecessary and moreover amount of used platinum can also be reduced by high performance. The researcher said that by making finer platinum particle 2 – 3 times improvement in the performance could be anticipated. [The Nikkei Sangyo Shimbun (industries and technology) March 6, 2006.]
(3) Tokyo University
An assistant professor, Prof. Yamaguchi, of Tokyo University developed new technology of electrode. New electrode surface was invented for bio-FC using glucose in a body. It was done for increase of electron density in carbon black, and thus the output increases by 10 times. It is expected that this technology could be applied to portable phones. The electrode surface is a layered structure of carbon black particles of 30 nm diameter and polymer layer containing enzyme for extracting electrons from glucose. Using highly electron-conductive carbon black electron can migrate quickly to the electrode. The amount of the enzyme becomes 10,000 times. The current density is 3 mA/cm2 and it is 10 times larger than that of conventional one. It is thought that the current density of several hundreds mA/cm2 would be feasible by changing sorts of polymer. [The Nikkei Sangyo Shimbun (industries and technology) March 9, 2006.]
10.Development and Business Deployment of Metrological Technology Related with Hydrogen and FC
(1) Citizen Watch Co., Ltd.
The company announced that it has developed a small gas sensor of catalytic combustion type, which can be used as a monitoring sensor of hydrogen leakage. The structure is coiled coil structure (double helix). The life is 10 years and the response time for hydrogen gas detection is about 2 – 3 seconds. Porous ceramics are used for the case of the sensor, so that the heat resistant performance is high. The company begins to ship the sensors as samples at the price of 3,000 yen. [The Nikkan Jidosha Shimbun (automobile) Feb. 4, 2006. The Fuji Sankei Business Eye and The Chemical Daily Feb. 7, 2006. The Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun (business and technology) Feb. 8, 2006. The Dempa Shimbun (radio wave) Feb. 21, 2006.]
(2) Yokogawa Corp.
The company commercializes a portable logging equipment for FC, “MW 100.” With this equipment data related with FC in FCV can be gathered in site during running. It can be operated in the temperature range from –
20oC to 60oC, and it can be adjusted to environment by changing assemble of modules, while a desk top equipment can be assembled. [The Chemical Daily Feb. 7, 2006.]
(3) Tokyo Institute of Technology
Prof. Hirai of Tokyo Institute of Technology developed technology for observing water distribution within a working FC by using MRI. Measuring water by the spin echo method with commercial MRI equipment, the water distribution is visualized. Decrease of water in the anode was observed with increase of the output. This is due to increase of accompanied water with increase of the output, and it seems that thus water is carried away from the anode. Prof. Hirai found that 40% of water is captured in swelling parts by visualizing water content in PEFC electrolyte membrane. By infrared absorbance measurement with semiconductor laser, he also succeeded in remote observation of water vapor concentration within gas supplying channels. [The Chemical Daily Feb. 9, 2006.]
11.Technological Development and Achievement of Auxiliaries Related with FC
(1) Kitz Corp.
The company develops high-pressure ball valves tolerable up to 33 MPa. Succeeding it, high-pressure valves for hydrogen at 70 MPa will be developed for FCV. The valves will be marketed in April of 2006 assuming present needs such as CNG storage, semiconductor manufacturing equipment and supercritical
CO2. [The Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun (business and technology) Feb. 6, 2006.]
(2) NGK Insulators, Ltd.
The company developed a new continuous atmosphere furnace for production of PEFC and DMFC. Conveyance of new mechanism is adopted in the new furnace. The newly developed conveyance system is called wire and beam system, which minimizes contact area between the conveyance system and a sheet to be produced. This is done for diminishing undesirable temperature distribution. Quick heating and quick cooling can be done, and temperature difference between surface and rear surface of the sheet is decreased to
15oC. The energy consumption is also reduced, and it is 1/3 in comparison with conventional mesh belt furnaces. [The Chemical Daily March 1, 2006.]
(3) Kaneko Sangyo Co., Ltd.
The company in Tokyo prefecture developed a back-fire prevention equipment “Flame Arrester” which copes with detonation, and the company intends to begin the sales in this April. It prevents detonation, in which the fire propagates at the speed over sonic wave accompanying shock wave. The company anticipates demands in FCV and hydrogen storage facilities. The price is from 260,000 yen. [The Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun (business and technology) March 7, 2006.]
12.Forecast of Market Scale
Fuji Keizai Co. collected investigation results on market scale of FC main components on March 9, 2006, and it is forecasted to be over 200 billion yen in 2020. Market related with hydrogen would also be enlarged to be 94 billion yen. The market scale in 2005 was 3.3 billion yen and 1.6 billion yen, respectively. [The Nikkei Sangyo Shimbun (industries and technology) March 10, 2006.]
------------ This edition is made up as of March 10, 2006. ---------------