THE LATEST FUEL CELL NEWS IN JAPAN, SEPTEMBER 2006
`Demonstration of FC Buses in Chubu International Airport `

Arranged by T. HOMMA
1.National Policy
2.Policies by Local Governments
3.Trends in SOFC Development
4.Development of PEFC Elementary Technologies
5.Development and Demonstration of Stationary PEFC
6.Development and Demonstration of Home-use PEFC
7.FCV Forefront
8.Technological Development and Business of Hydrogen Stations
9.Technological Development of Reforming, Hydrogen Formation and Purification
10.Hydrogen Related Business
11.Development of DMFC and Portable Micro FC

1.National Policy
@Agency of Resources and Energy under Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry showed a policy that technological development would be hitherto focused on solar cells, FC, storage batteries etc. in an interim report by its new energy division of comprehensive energy research committee. For solar cells development of new materials other than silicon will be promoted, and for FC development will be concentrated in PEFC and SOFC. Energy storage field, such as batteries for load leveling of wind mill generation and solar photovoltaic generation, is considered to be a new important field, and a 5 year program for advanced technology development will be promoted mainly for lithium ion battery. [The Denki Shimbun (electricity) July 27, 2006, The Nikkan Kensetsu Kogyo Shimbun (construction) July 28, 2006, The Chunichi Shimbun Aug. 12, 2006 and The Dempa Shimbun (radio wave) Aug. 15, 2006.]
2.Policies by Local Governments
(1) Aichi Prefecture
@On Aug. 3, 2006 Aichi Prefecture announced that "Aichi Airport New Energy Research and Generating Facility" in Chubu Airport Town (Tokoname city) would start full operation since Aug. 24, 2006. In the facility generators of the total maximum power 2,225 kW would be installed integrating PAFC, MCFC, SOFC, solar photovoltaic cells and NAS batteries. The demonstration will be continued up to 2007 fiscal year, and the power will be supplied to town hall and sewage center. The budget is about 11 billion yen for 5 years till 2007 fiscal year (including the preparation period). [The Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun (business and technology) Aug. 4, 2006.]

(2) Yamaguchi Prefecture
@In "Yamaguchi Frontier Yamaguchi Promotion Scheme" the prefecture is making demonstration of 2 sets of home-use PEFC using byproduct hydrogen from caustic soda electrolysis in Tokuyama Corp. The prefecture set forth that 79% average reduction in CO2 exhaustion was demonstrated. The byproduct hydrogen is purified up to 99.99% and it supplied at 0.8 MPa to FC on line, so that loss in supply is little, and exhaustion of CO2 and air pollution substances is null. The overall efficiency by simulated load is 71.4%; 34.1 % effective electric power efficiency and over 30% electric power efficiency under partial load are realized. The operating results for 1 year are 4,343 hour operation, 2,819 hour power generation and 88.4% load factor. [The Chemical Daily Aug. 11, 2006.]
3.Trends in SOFC Development
(1) JFCC
@Japan Fine Ceramic Center (JFCC) published on July 20, 2006 that it has developed flexible sheet material suitable for SOFC. It is made by forming sheets of spherical glass precursors synthesized from solution. The characteristic points are highly insulating property and gas seal performance as porous seal material. It is expected that the newly developed sheet material would be applied to structure, in which porous electrodes support the cells (electrode support structure). Gas seal under heat treatment below 800oC is possible with this seal material. Immersion was controlled to be less than 50 - 200 ƒÊm for porous material of 150 - 250 ƒÊm and 30% open pores. Additional treatment improves performance, and by mixing precursors of different melting points good seal can be made for porous material of high open pore ratio. Hitherto JFCC will make characterization and test of long-term stability of FC assembled using these sheet materials. [The Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun (business and technology), The Chemical Daily July 21, 2006 and The Denki Shimbun (electricity) July 26, 2006.]

(2) Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Ltd.
@Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Ltd. announced on August 2, 2006 that it succeeded in demonstration of combined generating system of town gas reforming SOFC and micro gas turbine (MGT). Un-reacting hydrogen (about 20% of reformed hydrogen) and high temperature air at 900 - 1,000oC are fed into MGT, and the generating efficiency is over 50%. 75kW power generation was confirmed in Nagasaki shipbuilding yard. Production of 200 kW combined generating systems will be started in October of 2006, and scale-up and high efficiency are aimed at for real use. The module of SOFC is bundled cell tubes of cylindrical ceramics, and high output power and operating time of 10,000 hours appear in sight. It is scheduled that SOFC of 150 kW class will be shipped to the technology development center of J Power (Electric Power Development Co., Ltd.) in January of 2007. [The Denki Shimbun (electricity) July 24, 2006, The Nikkei Sangyo Shimbun (industry and technology), The Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun (business and technology), The Fuji Sankei Business Eye, and The Chemical Daily Aug. 3, 2006.]

(3) Ritsumeikan University
@Prof. Yoshihara of Ritsumeikan University has developed a small size thermally independent quick-start SOFC system. Burning gases in the fuel electrodes and the air electrodes, the temperature of solid electrolyte is controlled in short time at high temperature for high ion conductivity. The start-up time was greatly reduced to less than 30 s in comparison with the conventional time of 1 - 2 h. Development of the gas-permeable electrolyte cells were already completed, and the prototype of cylindrical cells held at the one end of high sealing characteristics are under testing. In the test the fundamental data are gathered and technology of the supporting elements is also under research. Usage as automobile power sources is anticipated in addition to home use. Since now fundamental research will be continued to confirm technological value and collaborating firms are being searched for future real use. [The Chemical Daily July 24, 2006 and The Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun (business and technology) Aug. 11, 2006.]
4.Development of PEFC Elementary Technologies
(1) Tokai Carbon Co., Ltd.
@The company developed high-performance carbon separators for PEFC. In addition to the thin thickness of 0.13 mm (thickness of 0.3 mm is needed for conventional ones.), the characteristic point is that the strain at break point is over 10 so that high mechanical strength for machine handling is realized. Because perpendicular projections can be molded in molding process, so that electrical contact resistance can be reduced. The company has been a pioneer in carbon separators. Its product of resin impregnated graphite "G347B" is superior in low gas permeability and its high reputation has been established by standard material for PEFC separators. The above material is made by immersing isotropic graphite in thermosetting resin newly developed by the company and then by curing it. The company is aiming at other aspects than quality and characteristics; for instance high productivity by short-time heat and pressure molding technology and recycle technology. Hitherto the company will make active deployment in these fields. [The Chemical Daily July 21, 2006 and The Nihon Keizai Shimbun Aug. 15, 2005.]

(2) Ritsumeikan University
@On July 20, 2006 the university established "FC center" in its Biwako Kusatsu Campus (Kusatsu city f Shiga prefecture). The aim of the center is to elucidate degradation mechanism of the electrode catalysts for development of anti-aging technology (subsidized by NEDO). The range from trial assembling of a PEFC single cell to its evaluation is the research subject. The center is a one-story building of about 500 m2 total area. An apparatus for evaluation of single cell generating performance, an equipment for MEA assembling etc were introduced, and an apparatus for analysis of catalysts will also be installed in 2006 fiscal year. [The Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun (business and technology) July 21, 2006.]

(3) University of Tokyo and Toyota Motor Corp.
@Together with Toyota Motor Corp. and Compo Research Laboratory in its group, Prof. Fujita in Technology Faculty of Tokyo University has developed new electrode material, which effectively removes water from the electrodes. It is thin film containing cobalt compound and it has net-like structure with numerous nm size pores. Water tends to move to outside. To make the thin film, technology called "self-organization," one of nano technologies, is utilized. In this self-organized material tendency to form the net-like structure is utilized and no complicated mechanism is needed, so that it is expected that the production cost would be low. By fundamental experiment it was confirmed that the material works in PEFC, and it will also be confirmed that the material would work for FCV in its power sources. [The Nihon Keizai Shimbun July 28, 2006.]

(4) Asahi Kasei Chemicals Co., Ltd.
@The company developed technology for improving endurance and performances of electrolyte membrane for PEFC. By reviewing polymeric structure of fluorocarbon, the thermally stable temperature could be increased from 80oC to 100oC, and by mixing high thermal endurance material into the polymer, the thermal endurance life could be elongated to 40,000 h. Furthermore hydrogen ion conductivity was increased by 1.5 - 2.0 times and PEFC output power is expected to increase by several tens %. The production cost is relatively high compared with conventional fluorocarbon membrane, but it is anticipated that by mass production it would be produced at comparable cost. [The Nihon Keizai Shimbun Aug. 4, 2006.]

(5) Sumitomo Metal Industries, Ltd.
@Establishment of press machining technology for PEFC stainless steel foil separators comes in sight by the company. It succeeded in mass production of the separators of 0.2 mm thick and 100 cm2 effective area (the gas flow area), while production rate of 60 sheet/min by sequential press was realized and 4,000 sheets were made. Thus the cost can be reduced. In material production development had been promoted with the following goals. Elongation should be improved to 45% for thin plate of 0.2 mm thickness. The maximum iron dissolving after first start-up of PEFC should be less than 400 ppm. The surface resistance should be in the level of platinum. These goals were achieved by reviewing the mass production process and material design. In 2006 fiscal year the company will make long-term evaluation test of stacks assembled of the multiple layer cells, while improvement of mechanical handling technology will also be done. [The Chemical Daily Aug. 10, 2006.]

(6) Nisshinbo Industries, Inc.
@The company developed high-strength wave-shape separators of molded carbon-resin composite. The company selected three kinds of high plasticity materials by combining artificial graphite and thermosetting resin, and tested wave-shape separators using these materials. In immersion test in 90oC hot water, the strength decreased a little, but no change was observed after 50 h and the strength was kept at 95%. Long life of the mold is very important for low cost. No failure was observed after continuous 20,000 shots, and thus they got conclusion that no changes occur in the taper and the R geometry of the fabricated separators. The specific resistance is 12 mƒ¶/cm and the thermal endurance is 165oC. Thus the final goal in 2007 fiscal year has been attained. [The Chemical Daily Aug. 18, 2006.]
5.Development and Demonstration of Stationary PEFC
@Nippon Oil Corp. and Toshiba FC Systems Inc. will install stationary PEFC, independently, in Ito Campus of Kyushu University and start demonstration within 2006 fiscal year. They will make demonstrations of business-use FC, which will be operated for a restaurant and a bar within their business hours. Kyushu University introduces them in cooperation with the firms, and Fukuoka Strategic Council for Hydrogen will supports them. PEFC by Nippon Oil Corp. is a 10 kW kerosene-fueled system, and it will be installed in a restaurant in early spring of 2007. It is a newly modified FC from a system developed cooperatively with Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Ltd., and water vapor reforming is applied. On the other hand, the FC by Toshiba FC systems Inc. is 1 kW LPG-fueled one, and it will be installed in a bar around January of 2007. [The Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun (business and technology) July 26, 2006, The Denki Shimbun (electricity), The Nishinihon Shimbun July 27, 2006 and The Chemical Daily July 28, 2006.]
6.Development and Demonstration of Home-use PEFC
(1) Nippon Oil Corp.
@On July 24, 2006 Nippon Oil Corp. announced that in cooperation with Aomori Prefecture it installed the first product of 1 kW home-use FC using specified kerosene of reduced sulfur content at a private residence in Aomori city. This demonstration is in "Aomori Creative Strategy for Hydrogen Energy." The installation cost will be paid by the company, while the running cost of 60,000 yen per year will be born by the prefecture. [The Asahi shimbun, The Nikkei Sangyo Shimbun (industry and technology), The Kahoku Shimpo and The Chemical Daily July 25, 2006.]

(2) Ichigtaka Co., Ltd.
@A LPG dealer, Ichitaka Co., Ltd. (Sapporo city), advanced start of home-use FC sales by 2 years from 2010 to 2008. To cope with the trends of hastening the business in other competing companies, such as sales start in the same year by Hokkaido Gas Co., Ltd., the company will start demonstration of LPG-fueled FC of cold climate specification since autumn of 2006. The test in a general house is planned in 2007, and the company has a policy to reduce the price from the present price of 6.5 million yen to 1.5 million yen. [The Hokkaido Shimbun Aug. 5, 2006.]

(3) Matsumura Bussan Co., Ltd.
@On Aug. 8, 2006 the company in Kanazawa city started demonstration of LP gas fueled home-use PEFC system. "ENEOS ECO LP-1" was installed at a house of an employee in Kanazawa city. [The Hokkoku Shimbun Aug. 11, 2006.]
7.FCV Forefront
(1) Toyota Motor Corp.
@On July 18, 2006 Toyota Motor Corp. and Hino Motor Corp. announced that operating area of FC buses running around Chubu International Airport would be enlarged. On July 21, 2006 a hydrogen station would be installed in the airport. A local bus line will be extended into the airport, while other FC buses will run in the airport as ramp buses connecting an air terminal and aircrafts or circulating among cargo area. The local bus lines will be operated by Chita Bus Co., Ltd., and the operation in the airport will be done by "Centrea Sky Support." [The Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun (business and technology), The Nikkan Jidosha Shimbun (automobile), The Chemical Daily July 19, 2006, The Nikkei Sangyo Shimbun (industry and technology) and The Chunichi Shimbun July 20, 2006.]

(2) Mitsubishi Fuso Truck and Bus Corp. @The company will collaborate in development with Daimler Chrysler Co., Ltd. to reduce cost of a truck by a hybrid system. Fundamental technologies of FCV and components developed by Daimler Chrysler Co., Ltd. will be fully used in development of hybrid trucks. [The Nikkan Jidosha Shimbun (automobile) Aug. 11, 2006.]
8.Technological Development and Business of Hydrogen Stations
(1) Taiyo Nippon Sanso Corp.
@The company developed a mobile hydrogen station, which can charge hydrogen to FCV at 70 MPa. The hydrogen station is consisting of a compressor (the maximum pressure 90 MPa), gas storage and dispenser (corresponding to 35 and 70 MPa), and it can store hydrogen of total 912 m3. The maximum charging pressure is 70 MPa. The storage container is made of carbon fiber reinforced plastics and its weight is reduced to 1/10 in comparison with a metallic container. A flow meter, a flow controlling valve etc. are attached to the dispenser. It can charge 8 automobiles at 35 MPa at the same time. [The Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun (business and technology) July 18, 2006 and The Chemical Daily July 21, 2006.]

(2) Toyo Gas Co., Ltd., Taiyo Nippon Sanso Corp. and Nippon Steel Corp.
@The above three companies operate a hydrogen station (JHFC Centrea Station) for supplying hydrogen to FC buses and the opening ceremony was held on July 21, 2006. It was moved from the Aichi World Exposition. Its capacity is hydrogen supply of 100 kg per day, and hydrogen can be fully charged within 10 minutes. [The Chunichi Shimbun July22, 2006, The Denki Shimbun (electricity), The Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun (business and technology) July 24, 2006 and The Nikkei Sangyo Shimbun (industry and technology) July 31, 2006.]

(3) IDEC Corp.
@IDEC Corp. developed an operating touch panel of anti-explosion structure for hydrogen production sites and hydrogen stations. The voltage and current in the electric circuit of the panel are less than hydrogen flashing energy by using specific insulation technology. If hydrogen gas should flow into the inside of the panel and it should explode, it can stand with explosion pressure by applying uneven structure to increase endurance. [The Nikkei Sangyo Shimbun (industry and technology) July 31, 2006.]
9.Technological Development of Reforming, Hydrogen Formation and Purification
(1) Kyushu University
@Prof. Kitaoka of Kyushu University has developed "paper catalyst" for hydrogen reforming and other general purposes, and low cost and easy processing are its characteristics. Pulp fiber, ceramics, metal, glass, polymer fiber etc. are used as matrices, and copper/ zinc oxide base methanol reforming catalyst is added to it. The sheet is made by papermaking technology, and then it is sintered. When this catalyst was used in auto-thermal reforming process, large increase was found in performance. Since now Prof. Kitaoka aims at CO free hydrogen production by one step reforming, and he is also aiming at reduction of CO concentration down to 100 ppm. As general-purpose catalyst it can reduce content of noble metal catalyst. He has a plan to commercialize it about 3 years after in collaboration with FCC Co., Ltd. [The Chemical Daily July 21, 2006.]

(2) Tokyo University of Science
@Prof. Kudo of Tokyo University of Science succeeded in 10 fold increase in hydrogen production rate in a technique that water is dissociated perfectly into hydrogen and oxygen by using photo-catalysts and visible light. The two photo-catalysts used are bismuth vanadate and rhodium containing strontium titanate. Ruthenium is added on the surface of strontium titanate. When the catalyst is put into iron containing water and irradiated by visible light, water is dissociated perfectly by transferring electrons through iron. In an experiment about 0.3 mg of iron was dissolved into 120 mL of water, and then 50 mg each of the two photo-catalysts was added. Irradiating by simulated solar light, hydrogen production per irradiated 1 m2 was recorded to be 180 mL/h, and it is by 10 times higher than the conventional results. The two combined catalysts can absorb light less than 520 nm in the wavelength. [The Nikkei Sangyo Shimbun (industry and technology) July 27, 2006.]

(3) Tokyo University of Agriculture and Manufacturing - 1
@Prof. Kameyama and his research group of the above university developed a new technology, by which thinner palladium membrane can be made and thus permeation rate for separation and purification of hydrogen can be increased by 10 folds. The thin membrane made of palladium and aluminum base film of 50 ƒÊm is used, but the thickness of palladium is less than 1/10 of. conventional one and it is 1.2 ƒÊm. Thus the rate of the permeation is greatly increased. In the aluminum base film are pores of several tens nm diameter. Palladium particles are inserted and then palladium is electrochemically plated. An experiment was made by using this membrane to separate hydrogen at 400oC from mixture of hydrogen and nitrogen. Hydrogen could be separated at the rate of 6.7 L/sm2. [The Nikkei Sangyo Shimbun (industry and technology) Aug. 4, 2006.]

(4) Tokyo University of Agriculture and Manufacturing - 2
@Prof. Kameyama and his group of the above university developed a new equipment; by absorbing CO2 in absorbent in catalyst layer, hydrogen is produced from ethanol without evolving CO2. The new equipment is made of stainless steel. A 40 ƒÊm thick layer of porous aluminum oxide is rolled on a 80 ƒÊm thick alloy layer of iron, nickel and chromium, and 4 metallic plates are inserted horizontally in the equipment. On the inside surface of the central two metallic sheets, nickel catalyst and ceramic particles of CO2 absorbing lithium silicate are attached to form a flow channel for methanol. On the outside surface of the two metal sheets platinum catalyst is attached. Thus totally 3 methanol channels are formed (the inside of 4 metal sheets).
@Methanol of 30 - 40% concentration and air are flowed in the above top and bottom channels and electric voltage is applied to heat the metallic sheets. At 500oC methanol combustion occurs and the temperature in the equipment is kept at 450 - 500oC. Then methanol solution of the same concentration is flowed into the central channel. Methanol reacts on the nickel catalyst to form hydrogen and CO2. CO2 is absorbed into lithium silicate, so that only hydrogen flows out. Trial calculation shows that about 1.5 L hydrogen is formed from 1 mL ethanol solution. [The Nikkei Sangyo Shimbun (industry and technology) Aug. 15, 2006.]

(5) Techno Bank Co.
@The company developed technology to evolve large amount of hydrogen from magnesium hydride fine powder by using minerals in seawater (especially MgCl). In the hydrogen production process by this company 8 wt% of hydrogen is formed by hydrolysis of MgH2 and further a little bit less than 7 wt% is recovered from hydride in Mg crystals. Thus total 15 wt% of hydrogen is obtained. On the other hand, MgCl occurs as magnesium chloride hexa-hydrate (MgCl 6H2O) in seawater. It is safe and inexpensive, and it is used as food ingredient, especially as hardener of bean curd. Because its reaction rate is very high, the reaction can easily controlled by controlling the flow rate. By using MgCl as reaction promoter, the temperature is kept in the range from the room temperature to 80oC and the reaction is promoted. Thus more than 1,300 cc hydrogen is formed from 1 g of MgH2. The reaction rate is much higher than conventional reaction. By adjusting the solution concentration the reaction rate can be controlled. The company intends to put cassette of MgH2 in the market, and it imagines usage in direct water fuel cells (DWFC) and in hydrogen engines in Mag cycle program. [The Chemical Daily Aug. 7, 2006.]
10.Hydrogen Related Business
@Osaka Gas Co., Ltd. expands onsite business for industries using hydrogen production equipments by reforming natural gas. It intends to increase sales of hydrogen production equipments "Hyserve." In this equipment a reformer is combined with a purification equipment, and by downsizing only half site is needed. The installation cost became also half. Furthermore making full use of advantages, such as automatic operation and unmanned operation by remote watching, the company prepared contract in which the company will make all maintenance and methods by which a customer can introduce the equipment without paying installation expense. [The Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun (business and technlology) Aug. 7, 2006.)
11.Development of DMFC and Portable Micro FC
(1) NTT DoCoMo, Inc. and Aquafairy C0.
@NTT DoCoMo, Inc. announced on July 11, 2006 that it developed micro PEFC by producing hydrogen using water. It was developed together with a venture, Aquafairy (Ibaraki city of Osaka prefecture). The venture's unique hydrogen forming reagent and electric generating device using its thin film technology were combined with NTT DoCoMo's technology of charging circuits. They aimed at real use in 2008 for the third generation portable phones "FOMA." This FC is a box of 24 mm width, 24 mm depth and 70 mm height, and the weight is 45 g. Supplying a little water and hydrogen forming reagent in a cartridge, hydrogen is formed and electric generation proceeds by reaction with oxygen in PEFC. It was said that connecting with a portable phone by cable, it can charge a lithium ion battery more than 3 times. [The Nihon Keizai Shimbun, The Sankei Shimbun, The Tokyo Shimbun, The Fuji Sankei Business Eye, The Kahoku Simpo July 15, 2006, The Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun (business and technology), The Denkei Shimbun July 17, 2006, The Denki Shimbun (electricity), The Nikkei Sangyo Shimbun (industry and technology) July 18, 2006. ditto Aug. 8, 2006 and The Asahi Shimbun Aug. 15, 2006.]

(2) Tokyo Metropolitan University etc.
@Prof. Kanemura of the above university, Dr. Munakata of Organization for Promoting Science and Technology and others have developed electrolyte membrane for DMFC. The methanol permeability of the membrane became 1/10 compared with conventional ones. By inserting the electrolyte into fine pores in inorganic membrane, expansion of the electrolyte is suppressed and conduction by hydrogen ion increases. For making it, polystyrene powder of about 500 nm diameter is mixed with silica powder of 70 - 100 nm diameter in water. Then the mixture is filtered and particles accumulated on the filter is sintered. Polystyrene is volatilized and silica is sintered, but polystyrene particles form open pores. The thickness of the membrane is 150 ƒÊm. Highly hydrogen ion conductive hydrocarbon poly-electrolyte is inserted into this open pore. Thus the membrane is produced, and high strength silica prevent electrolyte from expansion by methanol, so that it becomes hard for methanol to cross over. The research group anticipates that the cost can be reduced to 1/10 of conventional fluorocarbon electrolyte, because silica and hydrocarbon materials are inexpensive. [The Nikkei Sangyo Shimbun (industry and technology) July 28, 2006.]

------------ This edition is made up as of Aug. 18, 2006. ---------------