(1) Automobile fuel policy
ü@The government begins review of automobile fuel policy. Till now the scenario of transition to FCV was assumed for prevention of air pollution and global warming. However due to price jump and supply insecurity priority is given now to promotion of new fuel, which can be used by mixing with conventional petroleum fuel. Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry will complete drafting of ügNew National Energy Strategyüh in May of 2006, and this strategy asserts reduction target of dependence on petroleum in transportation from the present ratio of about 100% to 80%. Concrete measures will be discussed among ministries and agencies, but promising items are promotion of GTL, DME, Bio-diesel etc which can be used by mixing with gasoline and kerosene, and great increase in mileage by charging hybrid cars in home to increase in motor driven range. With this policy switch ügAction Plan for Development and Propagation of Low Emission Carsüh and various tax subtraction will also be reviewed. Assumed new fuels and new technologies are following; ETBE, Gasoline additives from ethanol; bio-ethanol, Ethanol produced from sugar cane, corn and wasted woods etc. for mixing with gasoline; GTL and bio-diesel, oil produced from colza oil, soybean oil etc. for mixing with kerosene or for its substitute; and DME and plug-in hybrid cars, hybrid cars which can be charged in home for increasing motor driven range to 20 – 60 km by some means for instance developing batteries. [The Nikkan Jidosha Shimbun (automobile) March 22, 2006.]
(2) Definition of new energy
ü@Agency of Resources and Energy formed a new definition for review of present definition of new energy. On March 24, 2006 the agency presented ügdraft of concept of new energy and renewable energyüh in New Energy Subcommittee of the Advisory Committee on Natural Resources and Energy. In this new view renewable energy is thought to be conventional new energy plus waterpower, geothermal energy, wave energy and ocean temperature difference. The goal for introduction of renewable energy will be indicated by this new view. Among this renewable energy conventional new energy, hydraulic generation of medium and small size, geothermal generation and energy related with organic wastes are re-defined as new energy, and they are defined as themes to which support is needed for propagation.
ü@On the other hand, FC, natural gas cogeneration etc., which were included in new energy for demand side, are not included in renewable energy and new energy in the new definition, and they are also not included in the introduction goal. It is indicated that they are ranked in ügadvanced energy technology, development and utilizationüh and they will be reviewed in detail along with progress in technology.
ü@Based on this reviewed concept the agency will review subsidiary objects for new energy in demand side since 2006. As to large-scale natural gas cogeneration, it will be out of subsidiary, if it is based on conventional technology. Subsidiary will also be stopped to large hybrid cars over defined scale. However, subsidiary will be continued for introduction of new technology into large-scale natural gas cogeneration and bio-mass cogeneration of medium and small scale. [The Denki Shimbun (electricity) March 27, 2006]
(3) Increase of obligation in RPS law
ü@The Agency of Resources and Energy reviewed measures in RPS law (law of special measures for utilization of new energy) and determined a new policy to increase obligation put on electric power companies and electric power enterprises of specified scale (PPS) by 2009 fiscal year The present target of utilization is not changed at 12.2 billion kWh. The concrete increase will be determined and it will be presented at the subcommittee of the Advisory Committee on Natural Resources and Energy on April 17, 2006. Biomass FC will newly added in objective power sources in the RPS law. [The Denki Shimbun (electricity) and The Chemical Daily March 31, 2006.]
2.Activities and Progress in Establishment of International Standards
ü@In ICAO and IATA it has been discussed to carry fuel cartridges of methanol etc. for micro-FCüfs of portable equipments into an aircraft, and fundamental agreement is now within sight, so that it will be effective since Jan. 1, 2007. According to this standard, fuel cartridges for formic acid, butane and inflammable liquids including methanol were approved. One passenger can carry two cartridges of maximum 120 mL together with a FC system. Approval of metal hydrides was postponed. Butane was not approved as air cargo before, but an agreement was made and a non-metallic cartridge of 120 mL and a metallic cartridge of 200 mL were permitted as cartridges for butane. Safety will be ascertained by indicating that it is based on the IEC standard. On the other hand, conditions for carrying them into an aircraft are as follows. A cartridge set in a system is allowed, but charging fuel to a separated cartridge is not allowed. A device for electrical charging battery in the system is not permitted. Drafting and establishment of standards in consistent with Japanese domestic laws are remained, but it will be possible to carry them into an aircraft in international airlines since January of 2007. [The Chemical Daily March 29, 2006.]
3.Business Deployment of MCFC
(1) Bio-energy Co.
ü@In a series of super eco-town activities by Tokyo Prefecture, a facility for recycling food waste was being constructed by Bio-energy Co. (Tokyo prefecture) at Jonanjima of Oota ward, and it has been completed. The operation will be started in April of 2006. In this facility food waste is decomposed by bacteria and the formed bio-gas containing mainly methane gas is recovered. Using this as fuel, a cogeneration system will be operated combining a 250 kW output MCFC (manufactured by FCE) and a 750 kW output gas engine (manufactured by MHI). The two thirds of electric power will be sold to Tokyo Electric Power Co. and the remaining one third will be consumed in the facility. Wastes processed in the facility are those from hotels, supermarkets and convenience stores and industrial waste from food processing factories. Acceptable amount of solid waste is 110 tons per day and acceptable amount of liquid waste is 210 tons per day. The remaining sludge is used as materials and fuel for cement production. The total investment is about 4 billion yen. [The Chemical Daily March 28, 2006.]
(2) Sharp Corp.
ü@Sharp Corp. is now constructing the Third Kameyama Factory (Kameyama, Mie prefecture) as a stronghold for large-scale liquid crystal display production, and it will be completed in October of 2006. For supplying electric power and steam to this factory, they will install 4 sets of 250 kW output MCFC, in which town gas (natural gas) is reformed, and the total output is 1,000 kW. They are manufactured by a US company FCE. The electric efficiency is 47% and the steam is supplied at
350oC. A subsidiary company for energy service under Chubu Electric Power Co. Inc., Cenergy Co., Ltd. (Nagoya city) is the owner, and Fuel Cells Japan Co. in the group of Marubeni Co. is in charge of maintenance. In addition to these FCüfs, Cenergy Co., Ltd. installed 5 sets of 2,800 kW natural gas fueled gas engine (total 14,000 kW) and also installed 5,100 kW solar cells on the roof of the factory, in order to supply electric power and steam to Sharp. [The Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun (business and technology) March 28, 2006.]
4.Development of SOFC
ü@Daiichi Kigenso Kagaku Kogyo Co., Ltd. decides mass-production of scandia stabilized zirconia (ScSZ) for SOFC. The company is making research of SOFC using ScSZ in collaboration with Toho Gas Co., Ltd. and electrical conductivity of its sample of ScSZ was recorded to be twice of YSZ electrolyte. Along with technological improvement problems of endurance etc. were solved, and the company has supplied the product as samples to other companies. The company decided to supply ScSZ to companies aiming at commercialization of SOFC including Toho Gas Co., Ltd. At present about 10 tons are produced per year, and it is aiming at mass-production since 2008. System for medium scale production has been arranged by installing a pilot plant in Osaka factory. Further mass-production will be made in Fukui factory to be established newly, and it is planned that future production of ScSZ will be concentrated in the Fukui factory. [The Chemical Daily March 15, 2006.]
5.Development of PEFC Elementary Technologies
(1) INEOS Technologies Co.
ü@A British company, INEOS Technologies in the group of INEOS deploys business of coating technology ügPEM coatüh for metallic separators in Japanese market. In 2004 an office was placed in Tokyo prefecture as a window. Succeeding to this a technical center was established in Ibaraki city of Osaka prefecture for technological support to customers. By this technology corrosion resistance of metallic separators can be improved, while the cost for coating will be decreased in future to 8 yen per one sheet of the separator. If its acceptance be expanded, establishment of a production stronghold for coating in Japan would be within sight. PEM coat is to modify the metallic surface, and it is said that the technology brings us solutions for preventing decrease of stack life by corrosion and also preventing increase in contact resistance by oxide film formation on the metallic surface. Coating technologies for water electrolysis equipments and catalyst for sodium boron hydride decomposition are lined up in addition to PEFC and DMFC. [The Chemical Daily March 28, 2006.]
(2) Tokyo Metropolitan Industrial Technology Research Institute
ü@The institute assembled PEFC of high efficiency in collaboration with Paramount Energy Laboratory. They made MEA by mixing catalyst powder of several tens micron m with anti-acidic materials of silica gel and ion exchanging resin, and the achieved efficiency is by 30% higher than conventional ones. Experimental result of about 0.6 V at current density of 400
mA/cm2 was obtained. The anti-acidic materials coated catalyst powder is painted on the positive electrode to form double layer structure, and thus formed gaps among particles bring high permeability of oxygen to improve the performance. [The Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun (business and technology) March 31, 2006.]
6.Development and Business Deployment of Home-use PEFC
(1) Matsushita Electric Industrial Co., Ltd.
ü@The company will assemble home-use 1 kW PEFC of new specification in the autumn of 2006. The specification is entirely changed from that of PEFC installed now in general homes in the large–scale demonstration. The company is aiming at the production cost of 1.2 million yen and the guaranteed life of 10 years, and market deployment of the new system of low cost and long endurance (40,000 hour total operating time with 4000 time start-up and stop) is aimed at 2008. In this new specification number of components becomes below half and pipes become modules. FC system manufacturers made a question on extent of the production cost reduction before. On March 23, 2006 companies of components makers will answer to the question. Based on this result low cost will be pursued by standardization of auxiliaries etc., and easy maintenance will also realized. As to the endurance, 3 years can be guaranteed for MEA of the present cells, and endurance test of 10 time acceleration are now in progress under 3 different deterioration modes. [The Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun (business and technology) March 20, 2006.]
(2) Tokyo Gas Co., Ltd.
ü@Tokyo Gas Co., Ltd. will introduce a modified cogeneration system of home-use PEFC, ügLifuel,üh by around April of 2006. Responding to usersüf need a function of forced start of generation is added and effective efficiency will be improved. The early product automatically starts electric generation in harmony with bath time, and users could not set the generation time everyday considering needs. The company made FC partnership contract with users at the cost of 1 million yen for 10 years and provides users with the equipments. According to the schedule 200 sets were supplied in Tokyo, Kanagawa, Chiba and Saitama, and data were gathered from the half, i.e., 100 sets. Based on the data, the electric efficiency was estimated to be 31%, and the heat recovery efficiency was 45%, while the overall efficiency was over 75%. Furthermore, data will be gathered for more 2 years, totally for 3 years, and concurrently they are trying to establish test method for evaluating endurance of 40,000 hours and 10 years under load. [The Chemical Daily March 22, 2006.]
ü@Tokyo Gas Co., Ltd. announced that 200 sets of ügLifuelüh have been introduced. [The Denki Shimbun (electricity) March 31, 2006, The Dempa Shimbun (radio wave) April 1, 2006 and The Chemical Daily April 5, 2006.]
(3) Nippon Oil Corp.
ü@The company will install the first product of kerosene-fueled home-use PEFC system in a detached house selected by Aomori Prefecture. It can be operated in the atmosphere at –10oC. This time application was solicited from general homes in the prefecture. The prefecture selected one house among them and made application to the company. [The Denki Shimbun (electricity) March 29, 2006.]
(4) Association for promoting real use of FC
ü@Total installation of home-use FCüfs became over 500. The user of the 500th set was given a sticker and a memorial plaque. [The Denki Shimbun (electricity) April 3, 2006.]
(1) Nissan Motor Co., Ltd.
ü@The company achieved long mileage of 500 km using FCV ügExtrail FCVüh with 700 atmosphere high-pressure hydrogen cylinders. Running test on public roads was started since February around Vancouver, Canada. The cylinder made by Dynetek Industries Ltd. was accepted. Domestic hydrogen infrastructure corresponding to 700 atmospheres is not established, so that the test was made in Canada. [The Nikkan Jidosha Shimbun (automobile) March 13, 2006.]
(2) Osaka Sangyo University
ü@The university joined ügOsaka FCV Promotion Congressüh to improve its hydrogen production technology and FC micro-vehicle (FCMV) for further progress. For training students, the department of automobile technology developed FCMV, which can be simply assembled by the students. On the occasion of joining the congress, the university will make hydrogen sensors and controllers for FCMV in cooperation with small and medium size companies, and the university has a plan for its FCMV to be tested on public roads since 2007 fiscal year. Installation of hydrogen stations is planned in Osaka area including Kansai International Airport in 2006 fiscal year. This test plan will be made with establishment of the infrastructure. [The Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun (business and technology) April 6, 2006.]
8.Development of FC for Other Mobiles
(1) Japan Agency for Marine Earth Science and Technology
ü@The agency started development of a new small and light model of hydrogen-oxygen type PEFC of greatly improved efficiency. The development is in accordance with development program of elementary technologies for building the next generation cruising system for exploration, ügUrashima the Secondüh included in the third term fundamental program of science and technology (2006 – 2010). It aims at a non-manned explorer of 3,000 km maximum range (10 times longer than the present), which does not need a supporting mother ship and can make unmanned departure and arrival. It is a plan that the total weight shall be 30 tons, while the previous one is 10 tons, so that the capacity of the power source becomes large. The efficiency of the present FC is 54% at
60oC, but over 60% efficiency is aimed at for the new one. It is being planned that hydrogen shall be stored in hydrogen absorbing metal, while oxygen shall be stored in high-pressure tanks. [The Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun (business and technology) March 23, 2006.]
(2) East Japan Railway Co.
ü@In the near future the company will complete development of a train in which hydrogen fueled PEFC is installed. The test train is one car formation with 2 sets of 65 kW PEFC and it can run at 100 km/h. The hybrid train, ügNE Trainüh on which a diesel engine and storage batteries was combined, has been modified to install PEFC in place of the diesel engine. [The Sankei Shimbun, The Hokkaido Shimbun, The Kahoku Shimbun, The Fuji Sankei Business Eye April 5, 2006.]
9.Technological Development of Reforming, Hydrogen Formation and Purification
ü@Japan Atomic Energy Agency is planning construction of a pilot plant for research of hydrogen production technology, ügIS Processüh (a chemical cycle by combination of iodine and sulfur) by using a high-temperature gas reactor (HTTR). After the fiscal year of 2006 they will start the construction of a plant, whose capacity can be expanded to 30
m3/h of hydrogen production. In a fundamental research hitherto done, hydrogen production of 30 L/h was succeeded, and by enlarging the capacity to 1,000 times, it is planned that it would be succeeded by the next term HTTR program. In connection with HTTR the output of 1,000
m3/h is assumed. As to the HTTR, the coolant from the reactor output at
950oC (30MW thermal output) was achieved in 2004 at nuclear thermal application engineering unit of atomic energy fundamental engineering research branch (O-arai R & D Center).
ü@US, China, South Korea and France have interest in HTTR technology. US DOE gets large scale budget for design and construction, and start of testing of the first reactor is anticipated in 2012, while China succeeded in 10 MW output at
700oC and it is planned to start construction of a commercial reactor for electric generation in 2007. [The Chemical Daily, March 24, 2006.]
10.Trends in Development of Micro-FC
(1) Toshiba Corp.
ü@Toshiba Corp. has developed a chip-like small micro-reactor producing hydrogen from carbonaceous fuel. In the micro-reactor several tens troughs of 150 micron m width and 4 mm depth are formed on a metallic base plate of palm size and platinum base catalyst is attached inside of the troughs. By flowing fuel and water in the troughs and by heating them at
350oC hydrogen is formed. By using metal for the base plate instead of silicon and glass, the deep troughs are easily made. Flowing DME at 50 cc/min. and water at 20 cc/min. hydrogen formed at 200 cc/min. Reforming of methanol is also possible. By arranging multiple kinds of reactors of different catalysts CO formation can be decreased. It can be used for FC for portable equipment. [The Nikkei Sangyo Shimbun (industries and technology) March24, 2006.]
(2) NEC Corp.
ü@NEC Corp. is making development of DMFC, and it achieved output density of 100
mW/cm2 for a passive DMFC without any auxiliary components like pumps. The company is making micro-fine platinum catalyst and also making optimized catalyst-electrode structure. Thus output of 70
mW/cm2 was achieved in 2004. The company is now developing DMFC unified with the note-type personal computer. A supervising manager of its research center on fundamentals and environment, Mr. Kubo said ügBy promoting high-performance of catalyst carried electrode, we achieved the 2005 year goal of 100
mW/cm2 at 10.4 V using 4 cm2 MEA.üh He also indicated 4
yen/cm2 as the cost target in the future tasks. [The Chemical Daily April 5, 2006.]
(3) Casio Computer Co., Ltd.
ü@Casio Computer Co., Ltd. succeeded in improvement of performance of a chip-type methanol reformer to the real use level and it was the largest task in micro-PEFC for the note-type personal computer. Till now the start-up time of the reformer is long, and instantaneous start-up of the personal computer is difficult, but with this new reformer it becomes possible for 6 seconds, which are 1/300 of the conventional time. Shipment as samples is planned within 1 year. Applying the newly developed reformer whose volume is the same as that of lithium batteries generally used in the present personal computer, it is forecasted that continuous operation for 20 hours becomes possible. [The Nihon Keizai Shimbun April 7, 2006.]
11.Technologies of Measurement, Observation and Analysis Related with FC and Hydrogen
(1) Toray Industries, Inc.
ü@Toray Research Center, a subsidiary company of Toray Industries, Inc. for research and development, has developed technology for three-dimensional observation of catalyst particles attached on a PEFC carbon electrode. It seems useful in detecting useless platinum. The new technology is to make three-dimensional stereoscopic image by combining two-dimensional images obtained by electron-microscopy. In the concrete procedure, the electrode is sliced to several tens nm thick film, through which electron beam can penetrate. Then the two-dimensional images are obtained with electron beam by tilting the sliced electrode film by
70o clockwise and anti-clockwise. By combining images obtained by 140 time shootings, the three-dimensional images can be synthesized. It takes total 90 minutes, and because damage of the electrode is prevented, accurate observation becomes possible, while the precious combination of the two-dimensional images is improved by reformation of the image software. Thus detailed analysis can be made up to the level of 1 nm. [The Nikkei Sangyo Shimbun (industries and technology) March 29, 2006.]
(2) Fluent Asia Pacific Co.
ü@Fluent Asia Pacific Co. promotes new application of computer fluid dynamics (CFD) to FC field. Analytical modules specific to SOFC and PEFC including simulation are prepared, and detailed flows of fluids and heat in experimentally unobserved places can be visually observed, and electrochemical reactions can also be observed similarly. Especially SOFC is hard to be observed because of its high operating temperature. By simulation we can analyze fluid flow in inside of the cells and electrochemical reactions on interfaces among the electrolyte, the electrode and the electrochemical reacting species taking accounts of heat and materials transport. For PEFC we can consider representative physical phenomena such as water transport, diffusion, resistance to permeation, reaction heat etc. occurring around hydrogen permeable membrane, catalyst layer and gas diffusion layer. [The Chemical Daily April 3, 2006.]
12.Development Activities of Auxiliaries Related with FC
ü@Alps Electric Co., Ltd. is developing micro-pumps and micro-valves to be used in micro-FC for portable equipments. These are auxiliaries to control flow of liquid like methanol to the system. The target is miniaturization of these components by optimized design and precious machining technology. The flow of methanol etc. can be controlled at 4 mL/min with a micro-pump of 6.0 mm diameter and 24.0 mm length. The micro-valve is miniaturized to 3.5 mm diameter and 10.3 mm length except the nozzle. The control is easy, because low voltage electromagnetic self-sucking device is used. [The Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun (business and technology) and The Denpa Shimbun (radio wave) March 24, 2006. The Nikkei Sangyo Shimbun (industries and technology) March 27, 2006.]
------------ This edition is made up as of April 7, 2006. ---------------