THE LATEST FUEL CELL NEWS IN JAPAN, JULY 2006
`90 Day Demonstration Results of Home-Use SOFC `

Arranged by T. HOMMA
1.National Policy
2.Development and Demonstration of SOFC and Related Technologies
3.Demonstration and Business Deployment of PEFC Home-Use Cogeneration Systems
4.Development of FC Motorcycle
5.Construction of Hydrogen Stations and Supply Facilities
6.Development and Demonstration of Reforming, Hydrogen Formation and Purification
7.Development of Micro-FC
8.Development of Mobile FC for Normal Use and/or Emergency

1.National Policy
(1) Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry METI), and New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization (NEDO)
@METI and NEDO begin support for development of high performance secondary batteries aiming at application to plug-in type hybrid cars. As a plan succeeding to gTechnology Development of Lithium Battery for FCV etch to be ended in 2006, elementary technology will be developed together with establishment of evaluation technology and unified standards. The battery to be realized is that of 40 kg weight, 100 Wh/kg energy density and 10 y life. The concept of the plug-in type hybrid cars is to increase the range by the motor with the batteries charged by external power sources, and to decrease the environmental load compared with the present hybrid cars. The batteries will weigh the intermediate (50 – 100 kg) between those for electric cars (300 – 400 kg) and those for the present hybrid cars (12 – 35 kg). The range by the batteries without the engine will be 20 – 60 km. The demonstrations are now going on in Europe and US. The characteristics of charge and discharge required for the new batteries are different from those for the present hybrid cars, so that the batteries for the present hybrid cars cannot be used. METI decided to support development of the elementary technologies as a national project and it also expects the early spread from viewpoints of environmental protection and also jump in energy cost. [The Nikkan Jidosha Shimbun (automobile) May 15, 2006 and The Chemical Daily May 19, 2006.]

(2) NEDO and National Institutes of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST)
@On May 25, 2006 NEDO and AIST signed a memorandum for technological information exchange in the field of hydrogen technology development with US Los Alamos National Laboratory. Regular technological information exchange will be done among these 3 organizations, and also workshops for study of PEFC aging mechanism, hydrogen storage technology etc will be held in August of 2006 at Santa Fe, US. [The Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun (business and technology), The Chemical Daily May 26, 2006 and The Nikkan Jidosha Shimbun (automobile) June 5, 2006.]

(3) Subsidiary Researches by NEDO
@On May 29, 2006 NEDO decided items and entrusted organizations of subsidiary research in 2006 fiscal year in 3 fields, i.e., Standardization for spreading FC etc., Reforming technology for LPG fueled stationary PEFC and Basic studies of advanced science and technology of hydrogen. In gTechnology development and standardization of FC in new application,h gBasic R&D of FC in new applicationh by Japan Electric Manufacturers Association and AIST was selected. The other subsidiary researches and entrusted organizations are as follows; (1) gDevelopment of mobile power sources by pure-hydrogen fueled FC and small and light weight hydrogen supplying systemsh by Iwatani International Corp., (2) gR&D for performance improvement of FC used in portable equipmentsh by Hitachi, Ltd., (3) gDevelopment of FC technology for personal equipments without cordsh by NEC Corp., (4) gDevelopment of FC premise-carriers and hydrogen supply systemsh by JFE Container Co., Ltd., Kanto Agriculture Machinery Co., Ltd., and Tokyo Gas Co., Ltd., and (5) gDevelopment of high performance FC for small mobilesh by Yamaha Motor Co., Ltd. [The Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun (business and technology) and The Chemical Daily May 30, 2006.]
2.Development and Demonstration of SOFC and Related Technologies
(1) Tokyo Gas Co., Ltd., Kyocera Corp. and other companies
@On May 15, 2006 Tokyo Gas Co., Ltd., Kyocera Corp., Rinnai Corp. and Gastar Co. announced that they achieved 56.1% electric efficiency (LHV) at DC output with 2.5 kW scale atmospheric pressure SOFC unit. The cell stack is horizontal strip structure type of low temperature operation, and it operates stably at 750oC. Many cells are sintered on a cylindrical base in the horizontal stripe structure and the cells are connected in series along with the axis of the cylinder. Therefore high voltage can be obtained with a relatively small number of cylinders, and the cell stack of high voltage and low current can be realized, so that the energy loss was reduced. The materials are inexpensive and a process for stacking cells is unnecessary. Thus it is expected that these points lead low cost. The above 4 companies are developing SOFC cogeneration systems of 50% LHV (45% HHV) electric efficiency at the AC output by adding an inverter and other auxiliaries to the cell unit. They are aiming at real use about 2008. [The Yomiuri Shimbun, The Denki Shimbun (electricity), The Nikksn Kogyo Shimbun (business and technology), The Dempa Shimbun (radio wave) and The Chemical Daily May 16, 2006.]

(2) Osaka Gas Co., Ltd. and Kyocera Corp
@On May 16, 2006 Osaka Gas Co., Ltd. and Kyocera Corp. published operating test results of a home-use SOFC cogeneration system installed in a residence (1 home of 4 persons and 108 m2 floor area). The home-use SOFC system of 1 kW rated output was installed and operated in an experimental apartment house gNEXT 21h of Osaka Gas Co., Ltd. from the end of November in 2005 to the beginning of March in 2006. The operation test had been done for about 90 days. The electric efficiency was over the development target and it was 49% (AC output LHV), while the efficiency of recovering exhausted heat was 34% (LHV). The electric power was generated following the demand in the home and the one-day average electric efficiency achieved is 44.1% (AC output LHV) and the heat recovery efficiency averaged for one day was 34%. Comparing with electric supply by a thermal power station and heat supply using town gas by a gas company, reduction of 31% in primary energy and reduction of 45% in CO2 exhaustion were made. Aiming at commercialization in 2008, they are making cooperative research for long endurance and cost down. [The Denki Shimbun (electricity), The Dempa Shimbun (radio wave), The Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun (business and technology), The Kyoto Shimbun and The Chemical Daily May 17, 2006; The Nikkei Sangyo Shimbun (industry and technology) and The Fuji Sankei Business Eye May 18, 2006.]

(3) Central Research Institute of Electric Power Industry
@ On May 18, 2006 the institute announced that it has developed mass-production technology for nano-particles of cerium oxide in cooperation with Anan Kasei Co., Ltd. (Kyoto city), Tokushima University and Tokushima Bunri University. They developed a method of nano-particle growth and the nano-particles formed can be sintered below 1,200oC. They succeeded in formation of secondary particles of about 100 nm size, which are formed by coagulation of minimum size particles. The geometry of the secondary particles is long ovum, which can be broken easily. These technologies were applied to the real processes. Thus the production scale is greatly enlarged to 65 kg per one batch using a large-scale production equipment, and the particles can be supplied at 1/3 or 1/4 of conventional price. The research institute will try to apply the technologies to electrolytes and electrodes of SOFC, and it has a plan of developing technology of stacks and module assembly. [The Nihon Keizai Shimbun, The Denki Shimbun (electricity) and The Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun (Business and technology) May 19, 2006; and the Nikkan Jidosha Shimbun (automobile) and The Chemical Daily May 22, 2006.]

(4) Nissan Chemical Industies, Ltd.
@The company established a new production method of oxide sol and also developed zirconia sol as the first product by this method. It commercialized alkali sol and acidic sol and will start the real sales. The company named the new products as gNanouse.h Succeeding to the first one in this series, gNanouse ZR,h sols of ceria, titania and alumina will be developed in a plan of supplying them into the market. Among them zirconia is excellent in chemical stability and thermal stability. The optical refractive index is high. The company explores the usage of zirconia, the main targets being SOFC electrolyte, reflection preventing film and binder for titanium precise casting. [The Chemical Daily May 29, 2006.]

(5) Fine Ceramics Association
@The association has completed the roadmap for technological development tasks until 2015, and the fields covered are 3 fields, i.e., structural materials, electronics functional materials, and bio- and life-materials. Achievements to be attained in FC technologies in 2015, such as operating temperature of 300oC, electric efficiency of 45% etc, are described. Development of new electrolytes and simultaneous utilization of ceramics and metals are thought to be necessary. Especially to realize high efficiency generation reactivity in low temperature should be improved, and for this purpose it is thought that nano-scale space is optimum for electrochemical reaction space. Similarly technological seeds are described in detail. [The Chemical Daily June 9, 2006.]
3.Demonstration and Business Deployment of PEFC Home-Use Cogeneration Systems
(1) Corona Corp. and Idemitsu Kosan Co., Ltd.
@The two companies announced on May 19, 2006 that they have developed a trial home–use system of 1 kW scale using commercially available kerosene. The electric efficiency at AC output was 33% (LHV) and the overall system efficiency reached 76%. The temperature of kerosene reformer was decreased below 700oC by improving the reforming catalyst and reviewing the operating conditions, and these are the same levels as those of PEFC using other fuels as to the initial performances. Hitherto they will promote packaging the system, and it will be operated since December. The companies are planning demonstration in general homes since 2007 fiscal year. [The Niigata Nippo May 20, 2006, The Denki Shimbun (electricity), The Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun (business and technology) May 22, 2006, The Chemical Daily May 23, 2006 and the Dempa Shinbun (radio wave) May 24, 2006.]

(2) Ebara Corp. and Ebara-Ballard Corp.
@On June 8, 2006, the two companies announced that development of the third generation PEFC stack of 40,000 h endurance (gMK1030V3) was completed, and it was shipped by Ballard Power Systems Corp. to Ebara Ballard Corp. The stacks will be installed in commercial home-use systems to be sent to the market in 2008 by Ebara Ballard Corp. The designed life of 40,000 h was confirmed by an accelerated test method newly established by Ballard Power Systems Corp. The third generation was succeeded in 40% weight reduction and 26% volume reduction in comparison with the second generation. On the base of these development results, it is expected that a trial home-use system installing the prototype stacks will be supplied to Tokyo Gas Co., Ltd. and Nippon Oil Corp. in 2006 fiscal year. [The Nihon Keizai Shimbun, The Nikkei Sangyo Shimbun (industry and technology), The Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun (business and technology) and The Chemical Daily June 9, 2006.]
4.Development of FC Motorcycle
@On June 7, 2006 Yamaha Motor Co., Ltd. opens a DMFC driven motorcycle gFC-Meh to public. The output is 0.6 kW and it can run about 100 km by full charge of the 32 L tank. The fuel is methanol from natural gas, but the company stated it has intension to research biomass in the future. [The Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun (business and technology) June 8 2006.]
5.Construction of Hydrogen Stations and Supplying Facilities
@A company producing liquid hydrogen and industrial gas, gHydroEdgeh (Sakai city of Osaka prefecture), conducted completion ceremony of a factory constructed in costal area of Sakai city on June 5, 2006. This company was established as a joint venture by Iwatani International Corp. and a group of Kansai Electric Power Co. Inc. It will be supplied with natural gas and LNG cold heat from a neighboring LNG base and it will produce various gases for industries. The capacity of producing compressed hydrogen is 1,200 Nm3/h. Two sets of liquid hydrogen production were installed and each capacity is 2,700 .Nm3/h. The production capacity is among the largest in Japan. [The Sankei Shimbun, The Fuji Sankei Business Eye and The Chemical Daily June 6, 2006.]
6.Development and Demonstration of Reforming, Hydrogen Formation and Purification
(1) Noritake Co., Ltd.
@Noritake Co., Ltd. has developed hydrogen separation membrane using silicon nitride base ceramic material developed in cooperation with Chubu Electric Power Co. Inc. It is made by special thermal treatment of composite material containing silicon and carbon. Thus the membrane with below 1 nm pores is formed. Only hydrogen can permeate through it and it can separate hydrogen from mixed gas of hydrogen and methane. Adjusting the pore size gases other than hydrogen can be separated. In the newly developed membrane silicon nitride is used, and its cost is about 0.2 compared with palladium, so that it is expected that hydrogen separation membrane can be produced at about 1/5 production cost of conventional one. [The Nikkei Sangyo Shimbun (industry and technlology) May 15, 2006.]

(2) Kyoto University and Ebara Corp.
@Kyoto University and Ebara Corp. developed technology for producing hydrogen from decomposed heavy oil, which is by-product of naphtha producing process. Decomposed heavy oil is poured into a reactor, in which calcium adhered aluminum oxide is filled, and mixture of helium and water vapor at the ratio of 10 to 1 is introduced. By heating them at 1000oC, gas containing hydrogen was obtained. In this experiment 150 mL hydrogen was formed from 0.1 L decomposed heavy oil and 3.3 L gas mixture. Because heavy oil contains much carbon, the catalytic activity decreases due to carbon deposition, but adhered calcium improves catalyst performance. Because decomposed heavy oil is almost free, large cost reduction can be expected. [The Nikkei Sangyo Shimbun (industry and technology) May 18, 2006.]

(3) Tokyo Gas Co., Ltd. etc.
@In collaboration with Tokyo Gas Chemicals Co., Ltd. and Tokyo Gas Engineering Co., Ltd., Tokyo Gas Co., Ltd. introduced a high-performance equipment for hydrogen production developed by H2Gen Innovations, Inc. in US, and it will be demonstrated since 2007 fiscal year. With this equipment hydrogen is produced from natural gas (50 Nm3/h) by water vapor reforming with newly developed catalyst, and hydrogen formed is purified to 99.999% purity by PSA. A large equipment of 265 Nm3/h is now under development. Compared with conventional equipments, the volume is 1/3 and the cost is under 30%, while the start up time is less than 1 h. Thus large reduction in the space and the cost can be realized. Among 6 available varieties one variety was made by Japanese specification and it was purchased through Itochu Corp. In Negishi factory 1 y endurance test was started. Tokyo Gas Co., Ltd. begins real use of this equipment, and the group will make sales and maintenance. [The Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun (business and technology) May 24, 2006.]
7.Development of Micro-FC
(1) Casio Computer Co., Ltd. and Alps Electric Co., Ltd.
@On May 15, 2006 Casio Computer Co., Ltd. achieved volume output density of 882 W/L with a newly developed portable micro-FC of methanol reforming type. By combining a fuel cartridge and a micro-reformer, a note type personal computer can be operated for 4 times longer period compared with a conventional lithium battery of the same volume. In the newly developed generating stack 20cells are stacked up and each cell consists of a metallic separator and MEA. Various technologies are integrated, for instances down-sizing of a gas seal component, optimization of gas channels suitable for methanol reformed gas, improvement in MEA endurance against CO, highly dense assembly of components. Thus the output of 19.4 W with the volume of 22 mL were achieved. The company is considering that the sample shipment would begin in 2007 fiscal year. [The Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun (business and technology), The Dempa Shimbun (radio wave), The Fuji Sankei Business Eye, The Chemical Daily May 16, 2006 and The Nikkei Sangyo Shimbun (industry and technology) May 22, 2006.]
@The Alps Electric Co., Ltd. and Casio Computer Co., Ltd. set forth their plan of cooperative development of FC systems for portable equipments such as a note type personal computer and a mobile phone. As the first case Casio Computer Co., Ltd. will complete development of a FC system for note type personal computers as samples for evaluation, and Alps Electric Co., Ltd. is in charge of developing a micro-valve which is one of the core components. A sample of the micro-valve developed by Alps Electric Co., Ltd. is 3.5 mm in diameter and 10.3 mm in length with high interception characteristics. It has optimum structure to intercept the channels for gas and liquid and it is driven by electromagnetic mechanism. [The Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun (business and technology) May 30, 2006.]

(2) NTT DoCoMo Inc.
@The company is now developing micro-FC for a mobile phone with Fujitsu Ltd. and the company decided to commercialize it in spring of 2007. Combining the FC to be commercialized with installed battery used at present, it is anticipated that the electric capacity would become 4 times. A trial DMFC completed in summer of 2005 is 15 cm long, 5.6 cm wide and 1.9 cm thick and the weight is 190 g. With one cartridge containing 18 cc of methanol solution, the capacity becomes about 3 times in comparison with a lithium battery installed in the third generation mobile phone gFOMA.h On the other hand, KDDI Corp. is developing FC to be installed in a mobile phone, but its commercialization has not yet been decided. [The Asahi Shimbun May 27, 2006.]

(3) Kuraray Co., Ltd.
@The company is promoting real use of electrolyte membrane of hydrocarbon type for DMFC and it aims at deployment of MEA business in 2008 fiscal year. It also seems to begin development of electrolyte membrane for PEFC. Its membrane of hydrocarbon type was developed by fusion with unique elastic polymer and membrane formation technology. It was made possible that the methanol cross over during electric generation is reduced by 40% without decrease in the hydrogen ion conductivity, while the maximum output of DMFC increases by 1.6 times. Because of the elastic characteristics of polymer its adhesion with the electrode is improved. It is characteristic points that this effect brings improvement in the electric generation performance and easiness in assembling. Hitherto the company steers for evaluation of the membrane function, such as endurance, and development of MEA, while it also aiming at development of new catalysts suitable to this membrane. The company is planning real use in DMFC for mobile phone first and then PEFC business based on the above membrane technology. [The Chemical Daily May 21, 2006,]
8.Development of Mobile FC for Normal Use and/or Emergency
@Iwatani International Corp. announced that it started development of on-board mobile FC for an emergency power source in disaster and for construction. The target is FC of 10 kW level electric power by using pure hydrogen, and it aimed at the real use within 3 years. [The Nikkei Sangyo Shimbun (industry and technology) and The Fuji Sankei Business Eye June 5, 2006.]

------------ This edition is made up as of June 9, 2006. ---------------