(1) Ministry of Land, Transport and Infrastructure
In order to gather data for examination of technical standards of large FCV, the ministry will start running test of FC buses on public roads since July of 2006, succeeding to the test in 2005 fiscal year. Making use of local bus routes in the area surrounding Chubu International Airport (Centrea), FC buses cooperatively developed by Toyota Motor Corp. and Hino Motor Corp. will run on the roads using the hydrogen station installed in Centrea. [The Nikkan Jidosha Shimbun (automobile) June 24, 2006.]
(2) Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI)
The second term “JHFC Project” started as a 5 year project until 2010. Beside real full running test involving transportation companies, application of FC to wheelchairs and motor-assisted bicycles will also be dealt with. Main bodies for promotion are Japan Automobile Research Institute (JARI) in car side and Engineering Advancement Association in infrastructure side. A committee for promoting demonstration (chaired by Prof. Hisahi Ishitani of Keio University) with 2 subcommittees and 5 working groups will be organized. Mazda Motor Corp. newly joined in the project with a hydrogen automobile using a rotary engine “RX-8 Hydrogen RE.” Besides running test METI will sponsor publicity activities, such as trial driving and other events of practical experiences. Two hydrogen stations will be installed in Osaka prefecture in addition to the capital area and Aichi prefecture. [The Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun (business and technology), The Nikkan Jidosha Shimbun (automobile) June 27, 2006 and The Chemical Daily June 28, 2006.]
(3) New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization (NEDO)
NEDO completed the second version of roadmap for FC development. The first version made in 2005 was reviewed and revised based on proceedings in technological development and discussion in the roadmap committee. The biggest revision was made on SOFC. It was considered to be the next generation succeeding to PEFC, but based on progress in the R&D it is now thought that SOFC would penetrate into the market by its own scenario. Taking account of this point, SOFC is divided into two categories; one is small and medium size of several kW and the other is several tens to several hundreds kW scale. The target was set for each scale. A small SOFC of several kW size will be developed aiming at 2010 – 2015 as initial introduction period. It is anticipated that a medium scale SOFC of several tens to several hundreds kW would be in demonstration stage in the same period. SOFC over several hundreds kW scale would be combined with a gas turbine to form a hybrid, and its goal is to be in the same stage as the medium scale SOFC. The task in SOFC R&D is downsizing by high power and large capacity as well as cost reduction. Low temperature operation becomes also important considering development into other application fields.
For stationary PEFC early introduction is thought important, and the price in real propagation period of 2020 – 2030 was changed from 200,000 yen to less than 400,000 yen.
For FCV large change was made in the operating temperature; both in low temperature limit and high temperature limit. They would be, respectively, –40oC and 100 –
120oC in real propagation period for the second-generation car in 2020 – 2030.
As to hydrogen production, the aimed targets are 75 – 85% efficiency (HHV) in on-site reforming from fossil fuels, and 250,000 – 400,000
yen/Nm3h-1 in cost. [The Chemical Daily June 20, July 10, 11 and 13 (2006)]
2.Business Deployment in MCFC
Fuel Cell Japan, Co., Ltd .in Marubeni group speeds up spread of MCFC. Until 2005 fiscal year it installed MCFC at 8 domestic sites including Toride Factory of Kirin Beer Co. Ltd. and Seibu water processing center of Fukuoka City beside 3 sites in Korea. In 2006 fiscal year it decided to install MCFC at 6 domestic sites and 1 Korean site. The installation cost is about 600,000 yen/kW. Besides public facilities, food and chemical factories, it actively deploys sales business for hospitals etc, and the target in 2007fiscal year is 10. Watching further sales increase it would become in sight to construct a stronghold for assembling and manufacturing. [The Chemical Daily June 14, 2006.]
3.Development of SOFC
On June 21, 2006 J Power (Electric Power Development Co., Ltd.) announced that it would start system test of atmospheric pressure SOFC of 150 kW scale since January of 2007. The installation was started since June in the technology development center. In cooperation with Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Ltd. the company made test of sub-module of 25 kW circular strips cells applying new electric generation structure from April to May of this year, and the results were over the performance targets, so that the company decided to enlarge the scale and to make system formation and examination of long-term reliability by itself. The fuel is town gas, and characteristics of long-term operation, start and stop, partial load, and load following will be tested. In the new electric generation structure the both ends of cylindrical cells are supported, so that it is endurable to vibration in transportation and at earthquake. The fuel supplying system becomes also simple and it also leads to low cost. The company aims at real use, and applications to cogeneration, electric utility and combined cycle by coal gasification (IGFC) are in sight. [The Denki Shimbun (electricity) June 22, 2006 and The Chemical Daily June 23, 2006.]
4.R&D of PEFC Elementary Technologies
Prof. Tanioka et al. of Tokyo Institute of Technology invented endurable hydrocarbon electrolyte membrane by mixing fullerene. Though the hydrocarbon membrane is low-cost, its drawback is degradation due to oxidation by highly reactive hydrogen peroxide radicals. Prof. Tanioka notified ability of fullerene in catching the radicals. Polystyrene is converted to hydrogen ion permeable material, and after mixing with several % (weight ratio) fullerene, electrolyte membrane of 50 – 100 μm thickness was formed. The hydrogen ion conductivity was observed to be in the same level as fluorocarbon membrane. It can be produced at less than 1/10 cost in comparison with the present fluorocarbon electrolyte membrane. Further development aiming at real use will be made in collaboration with industrial sector. [The Nikkei Sangyo Shimbun (industry and technology) June 28, 2006.]
5.Demonstration and Commercialization of Home-use PEFC
(1) Hokkaido Gas Co., Ltd.
The company will expand demonstration scale of natural gas fueled home-use PEFC. In October and November of this year it will install 10 sets of PEFC. The FC is forced flow gas supply and exhaustion type by Hokkaido specification for cold weather and it is set in the house. [The Nikkei Sangyo Shimbun (industry and technology) June 28, 2006.]
(2) Nippon Oil Corp.
On July 10, 2006 the company announced that it installed LPG reforming 1 kW home-use PEFC in Yokohama Municipal Minamidai Elementary School. It will be operated for 3 years, and generated electric power will be used in the school, while hot water by the exhausted heat will be utilized for school lunch. Thus demonstration will be made for future propagation. At the same time the company will supply educational software for elementary schools on FC etc. useful for education of energy and environment. [The Denki Shimbun (electricity) July 11, 2006 and The Chemical Daily July 13, 2006.]
(3) Ebara Corp.
Ebara-Ballard Corp. will establish mass production system, aiming at introducing commercial home-use PEFC systems since 2008 fiscal year, Fujisawa Works of Ebara Corp. being a candidate. Based on the third-generation PEFC stacks “MK 1030 V3,” further cost reduction will be made, and several thousand sets production is anticipated in the first year. In the policy after 2008 fiscal year, the price per one set is forecasted about 1.2 M yen in the initial stage, and 40% share is aimed at assuming 100,000 set market in 2010 fiscal year. [The Chemical Daily July 11, 2006.]
(1) Toyota Motor Corp.
Toyota Motor Corp. succeeded in winter starting test of FCV at –30oC and its real operation was confirmed, so that the company decided running test on public roads by installing these stacks in the second-generation FCHV. High-polymer membrane of different materials is used and catalysts are improved. [The Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun (business and technology) June 14, 2006.]
(2) Yamaha Motor Co. Ltd.
In addition to DMFC in FC bikes, FC using hydrogen gas will also be examined for medium size and large size bikes of over 125 cc class. The problem is layout of hydrogen tanks. Because the bodies of 50 – 90 cc class are small, DMFC is used in “FC-me.” [The Nikkan Jidosha Shimbun (automobile) June 17, 2006.]
(3) Daimler-Chrysler Japan Co., Ltd.
Daimler-Chrysler Japan Co., Ltd. announced that the company delivered a FCV (F-Cell) and a hybrid truck to an international transporter, DHL Japan on July 6, 2006 together with Mitsubishi Fuso Truck and Bus Corp. [The Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun (business and technology), The Nikkan Jidosha Shimbun (automobile), The Fuji Sankei Business Eye July 7, 2006, The Nihon Kaiji Shimbun (marine transport) July 10, 2006, The Senken Shimbun July 11, 2006 and The Nikkei Sangyo Shimbun (industry and technology) July 14, 2006.]
7.Construction of Hydrogen Station
In 2005 fiscal year a hydrogen station was installed for FCV in Seto venue of Aichi World Exposition. This station was transferred to Chubu Airport city and it will be open on July 21, 2006. Toho Gas Co., Ltd. manages it and the capacity is 1,100
Nm3/day. [The Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun (business and technology), The Chunichi Shimbun, The Tekko Shimbun (iron and steel), The Chemical Daily June 22, 2006 and The Kensetsu Tsushin Shimbun (construction) June 23, 2006.]
8.Technology of Reforming, Hydrogen Formation and Purification
(1) Tokyo Institute of Technology and Shinko Techno Co., Ltd.
Tokyo Institute of Technology and Shinko Techno Co., Ltd. (Ichinomiya city) developed technology to efficiently produce hydrogen from wasted plastics. In the equipmens Professor Yoshikawa of Tokyo Institute of Technology developed, hydrogen is produced by the following processes. Plastic fragments of 1 cm length is poured into a reactor for thermal decomposition, and the fragments are converted to gas by heating them at 300 –
400oC in atmosphere without air. The formed gas is transferred to another reactor in which catalyst of ruthenium loaded aluminum oxide is filled. Water vapor is then added and the gas is heated at
700oC. Thus mixed gas containing hydrogen is produced and hydrogen is separated by another equipment. When polyethylene, polypropylene or polystyrene is used, 200 – 240 g of hydrogen is formed per 1 kg of plastics. Conventionally plastic waste is fragmented into powder of μm size and it is reacted with oxygen at
1300oC to form hydrogen. Comparing with this conventional process, hydrogen production becomes double and plastic waste needs not to be powder. The capacity of the present equipment is 100 g/h, but it is expected to enlarge the equipment and to produce hydrogen continuously at the rate of 1 ton of plastics per day. [The Nikkei Sangyo Shimbun (industry and technology) June 12, 2006.]
(2) Noritake Co., Ltd.
In collaboration with Prof. Kusakabe of Fukuoka Women’s University, the company completed development of a catalyst membrane reactor for selectively separating CO. The membrane is separating membrane of nm pore size with catalyst for selectively oxidizing CO. CO and hydrogen are separated in molecular level and CO is oxidized to
CO2. On porous supporting materials, such as alumina and zirconia, nm size porous membrane, such as zeolite, is sintered. Using difference in molecular size hydrogen is separated from CO. Furthermore by loading platinum–based selectively reacting catalyst on the surface of nm pore membrane, the above purpose is attained. They are aiming at early real use by proposing this technology to makers of reformers and FC. By using a trial equipment the concentration of CO in reformed gas for PEFC was reduced from about 1% to 0.001%. It is also possible to apply it to others, such as SOFC and a mobile FC, because miniaturization is easily made. [The Chemical Daily June 14, 2006.]
(3) Tokyo Institute of Technology
Prof. Hanamura et al. of Tokyo Institute of Technology developed an equipment for efficiently producing hydrogen from wood biomass with less catalyst than in conventional method. The developed equipment is a stainless steel reactor of 3 cm outer diameter and 30 cm height, in which porous aluminum oxide of fine pores loaded with nickel catalyst is filled. The aluminum oxide is a cylinder of 2 cm diameter and 2 cm height, and the catalyst is loaded on the inside. The reactor is heated at
800oC and water vapor is flowed into powdered cellulose, which is main component of wood biomass. Mixed gas containing hydrogen is formed. The characteristic points of this equipment are that catalyst grains do not attach each other because they are loaded in aluminum oxide, while contact area between the catalyst and biomass is large enough because the aluminum oxide is sponge-like. The efficiency of hydrogen production is the same as that of a conventional one. Prof. Hanamura said “We intend that the developed equipment would be used as a hydrogen source for home-use PEFC.” [The Nikkei Sangyo Shimbun (industry and technology) June 22, 2006.]
(4) Waseda University
By gene treatment Prof. Sakurai and his co-workers of Waseda University succeeded in 10 times increase of efficiency of hydrogen production from water and light with photo-synthetic cyanobacteria. Notifying that enzyme “nitrogenase” contained in the bacteria produces hydrogen from photo-synthesized polysaccharides, “hydrogenase” absorbing hydrogen is inhibited by gene treatment of the bacteria. Then it was confirmed that the rate of hydrogen production became 10 times by an experiment using visible light. The efficiency of photo energy conversion to hydrogen energy is 1.7%. The bacteria occurs abundantly in rice fields. [The Nikkei Sangyo Shimbun (industry and technology) June 27, 2006.]
9.Technology Development of Hydrogen Storage and Transportation
Samtech Corp. (Osaka city) got license concerning 35 MPa hydrogen storage tank from High Pressure Gas Safety Institute of Japan (KHK). The tank is 70.8 L capacity, 412.5 mm outer diameter and 838.2 mm length. High strength under high pressure was attained by winding carbon fiber on thin aluminum liner. The first product was delivered to “Osaka FCV” Promotion Congress, and samples will be supplied to automobile makers and research institutes studying FC. [The Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun (business and technology) June 26, 2006.]
10.Technology of Micro-FC and DMFC
(1) Dainippon Ink and Chemicals, Incorp.
The company completed development of DMFC separators of 0.15 mm by using unique fine machining technology. The thickness is about half of conventional ones. Composite material of electro-conductive carbon and light resin is used. The weight is 1.8
g/cm3 and it is less than 1/4 of stainless steel. Anti-corrosive nature against methanol is also an advantage over metallic separators. It is expected to produce them for mobile electronics equipments in 2007. [The Nikkei Sangyo Shimbun (industry and technology) June 15, 2006.]
(2) Seiko Instrument Inc.
The company succeeded in remarkable downsizing of PEFC using sodium boron hydride (about 1/3 of conventional ones). The output power, the voltage and the size are respectively 3 W, 8 V and 80 mm x 70 mm x 40 mm, and it is a passive PEFC. It consists of a hydrogen producing box, generating cells and circuits for voltage increase and control. By structural modification of the box and by using a newly developed regulator, space efficiency was greatly improved. High voltage was also attained by decreasing variance in voltage among the cells and by developing the structure for uniform hydrogen supply. A container for catalyst of malic acid aqueous solution was included in the hydrogen producing box, and when the amount of the solution is decreased, the container shrinks with a spring. Three electrode catalysts are arranged on the surface of the MEA. As to hydrogen supply and diffusion, number and shape of hydrogen inlets are modified for uniform supply. Exhaustion of water was also improved. The technology would be established in 2007, and the company aims at real use in outer power sources for portable phones, digital cameras and notebook-type personal computers. Hitherto deployment is also being considered on power sources for small equipments of about 20 W. [The Chemical Daily June 23, 2006.]
11.Metrological Technology Related with FC and Hydrogen
(1) Yokohama National University
Prof. Mizuguchi and his research group of Yokohama National University developed a sensor, which can detect hydrogen gas in air within 1 second. The new technology is a technique in which hydrogen is detected by combination of palladium with pigment reacting with hydrogen ion. The pigment used is red pigment (pyrrolo-pyrrole), in which hydrogen ion fits. The sensor is made of glass base plate of 1 cm square, on which the pigment and electrodes are arranged alternatively with 100 μm width, and palladium powder is uniformly attached on it. When hydrogen molecule approaches to the sensor, it changed to hydrogen ion by action of palladium. The hydrogen ion fits in the pigment to change the electrical resistance. This change is detected by measuring the current, which corresponds to the concentration of hydrogen gas. Hydrogen of 100 ppm can be detected. Hereafter other materials of the same function as the pigment will be screened, aiming at higher sensitivity and real use. [The Nikkei Sangyo Shimbun (industry and technology) June 12, 2006.]
(2) Yamari Industry
The company (Takatsuki city of Osaka prefecture) started mass production of a temperature sensor (thermocouple) “AD-THERMIC” for FC. In a new factory, to which an automated production line was introduced, a facility annually producing 250,000 sensors was built up and a resin molding line for the sensors will be automated until the end of the year. In 2008 a system producing 1 million will be established. [The Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun (mining) June 19, 2006.]
(3) Chino Corp.
The company begun to sell small size evaluation test apparatuses “FC5105M” for development test and endurance test of PEFC. The price of the one set is 3.3 million yen or more. [The Nikkei Sangyo Shimbun (industry and technology) June 20, 2006.]
12.Development of FC related Technology
Prof. Kita and his group in Yamaguchi University developed inorganic membrane, which can separate only
CO2 from high temperature gas over
100oC. The developed membrane is zeolite membrane of several μm thickness formed on aluminum oxide support plate of 5 mm thickness with many pores of 1 μm diameter. The zeolite membrane is formed by painting gel containing silicon, aluminum, sodium and potassium, then it is heated at 100 –
200oC. In the formed membrane are micro-pores of 0.4 nm size, and
CO2 is selectively adsorbed and separated. In the real usage it formed in pipes, on which the zeolite film is outside, and the pipes are bundled. In the experiment 70%
CO2 was separated from mixed gas at
100oC. [The Nikkei Sangyo Shimbun (industry and technology) June 19, 2006.]
------------ This edition is made up as of July 14, 2006. ---------------