1.Policies by Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry and by NEDO
(1) Exchange Program with US Laboratory
@Through exchange with Los Alamos National Laboratory, Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry investigates what collaboration should be among industry, universities and government. Though the facilities are owned by the government, Los Alamos National Laboratory is managing consortiums among industry, universities and government. In the research and development it has intimate relation with energy related firms, such as oil companies. Investigating the management, the ministry examines frameworks for producing fruits in advanced technology research. The laboratory has contracts for information exchange on FC and hydrogen technology with National Institutes for Advanced Industrial Science and Technology and New Energy, and Industrial Technology Development Organization (NEDO). Furthermore, they agreed on September 13, 2006 cooperation in development of FC and hydrogen technology. [The Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun (business and technology) Aug. 31, 2006, The Mainichi Shimbun, The Sankei Shimbun, The Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun (business and technology), The Fuji Sankei Business Eye, The Chemical Daily Sept. 14, 2005, and The Nikkei Sangyo Shimbun (industry and technology) Sept. 19, 2006.]
(2) Virtual Laboratory for Hydrogen Storage Technology
@The ministry will start "Basic Research Program for Advanced Hydrogen Storage Materials" which will solicit worldwide top-class researchers as cores and the materials will be pursued since 2007 fiscal year for 4 years. They are aiming at establishment of simulation and analysis technologies for searching new materials of epoch-making storage capacity and performance. They are also planning trial production. Through this program capacity increase and weight reduction of hydrogen tanks for FCV are tried, and increase in range of FCV is also the target. Combining domestic and oversea research institutes and companies, virtual system is adopted without central facilities. [The Chemical Daily Sept. 5, 2006]
(3) Aichi Air-port Site New Energy Laboratory
@NEDO will establish the above laboratory and it will start full demonstration by moving plants of new energy used for demonstration in Aichi World Exposition to Chubu Air-port site. Opening ceremony was held on Aug. 21, 2006. Solar Photovoltaic generation and FC using methane gas made by fermentation of garbage will steadily supply electric power, being combined with secondary batteries for load leveling. Aichi Prefecture and Chubu Electric Power Co. Inc. participate the demonstration. [The Chunichi Shimbun Aug. 24, 2006, The Denki Shimbun (electricity), The Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun (business and technology) and The Nikkan Kensetsu Shimbun (construction) Aug. 25, 2006.]
2.Activity Related with PAFC
@NEDO decided KRI International Inc. as a trustee for "Investigation for Usage Expansion of Systems with FC." The included tasks are examination of materials balance and economic feasibility evaluation in assumed sites for multiple systems with PAFC, and investigation of present status and examination of policies, including economic framework and personnel training, in relation with soft infrastructure necessary for oversea propagation. [The Chemical Daily Sept. 8, 2006.]
3.R&D of MCFC
@Central Research Institute of Electric Power Industry succeeded in 50,000 hour long-term stable operation of MCFC of 10 cm square cells. The largest aging factor i.e., nickel shortage did not occur, and aging ratio after 1,000 hour operation was only 0.27%. Hereafter the institute will promote a plan to operate several kW MCFC equipment to be installed in the energy research laboratory in 2008 at the earliest case, and it is aiming at establishing technology for real use by demonstrating a system of reduced cost. [The Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun (business and technology) Sept. 22, 2006.]
4.Development and Demonstration of SOFC
(1) Demonstration Plan of Home-Use SOFC
@Agency of Natural Resources and Energy under Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry will carry out a monitoring demonstration since 2007 fiscal year for 4 years to realize home-use SOFC (1 - 5 kW) of high electric efficiency over 45%. Besides a group of Kyocera Corp and Osaka Gas Co., Ltd. and another group of Mitsubishi Materials Corp. and Kansai Electric Power Co. Inc., the following companies, i.e., a group of TOTO, Ltd. and Hitachi, Ltd., another group of Toho Gas Co., Ltd. and Sumitomo Precision Product Co., Ltd., Acumentricks in US and CFCL in Australia will participate the project. The agency incorporated 900 million yen for this project in its rough estimate of the 2007 fiscal year budget presented to Ministry of Finance. In the plan 40 sets will be installed in homes in the first fiscal year and almost all expense of about 10 million yen will be subsidized per one set. As to home-use SOFC, the group of Kyocera Corp. and Osaka Gas Co., Ltd. had succeeded in demonstration of SOFC of 49% electric power efficiency and 34% heat recovery efficiency for SOFC installed in an apartment house. Regulation relaxation, for instance unmanned operation of SOFC installed in homes, is expected in 2006 fiscal year, and this project aims at full real use since 2010 fiscal year. [The Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun (business and technology) Aug. 31, 2006 and The Chemical Daily Sept. 4, 2006.]
(2) Triple Power Generation by Coal Gasification
@Agency of Natural Resources and Energy under Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry decided to accelerate gasification and combined electric generation of high efficiency done by J Power (Electric Power Generation Co., Ltd.) in its Wakamatsu Laboratory. The purpose is to find feasibility of triple combined cycle of SOFC, a gas turbine and a steam turbine, and demonstration of a system for separating and recovery of CO2 from coal gas. The subsidiary will be extended since 2007 fiscal year to 2009 fiscal year. In this system hydrogen is made by shift reaction of gas produced in coal gasification process, and it is supplied to SOFC for electric generation, while part of evolved CO2 is separated and recovered. It is expected that with a gas turbine of 1500oC class electric generation efficiency at the output of the turbine is 45% and overall efficiency of the triple combined cycle is 55%. [The Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun (business and technology) Sept. 5, 2006.]
(3) Tokyo Institute of Technology and Daiichi Kigenso Kagaku Kogyo Co., Ltd.
@An assistant professor of Tokyo Institute of Technology, Prof. Yajima, in collaboration with Daiichi Kigenso Kagaku Kogyo Co., Ltd. (Kochi city), succeeded in elucidation of structure of cerium oxide at atomic level and they could show diffusion path of oxide ion migration. By high temperature neutron diffraction of yttria doped cerium oxide, they investigated arrangement and distribution of ions in high temperature. Ion density distribution was observed and it was analyzed to visualize diffused oxide ions in the temperature range over 100oC. It was made clear that the diffusion path of oxide ion is not linear but curved, and it is common in ion conductors of fluorite type. It is expected that the results lead to systematic understanding of ion conduction mechanism. [The Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun (business and technology) Sept. 18, 2006.]
5.Research of PEFC Elementary Technology
@Prof. Sakai and his research group in Toyohashi University of Technology have developed technology for greatly increasing ion conductivity of nano particles using surface effect. This is done by piling up proton conductive ultra thin films on surface of core particles alternatively. By piling up ultra thin films of phosphorus wolframate, increase in ion conductivity by over 10,000 was observed. Great increase in ion conductivity by formation of nano particles and/or piled hetero interface was recently reported, and it draws attention as a design principle of ion conductors. In the alternative piling up method, electrostatic interaction is utilized as driving force. It is possible to pile up uniform film of several nanometer in the room temperature under ambient pressure. It is also possible to pile up films on all solid surface having electric charge. Therefore, it can be applied wide range of materials. The group has been making research to control hetero surface by this alternative pile up method. What they made this time is to make particles of hetero surface structure, in which proton conductors are piled up on particles as cores. This particle is made by sol-gel method, and it is thermally and chemically stable with excellent plasticity. The thus made particles were pressed and melted to form sheets, and evaluation was made for the sheets as electrolyte. [The Chemical Daily Sept. 11, 2006.]
6.Development of FCV and FC Mobiles
(1) Nissan Motor Co., Ltd.
@On Sept. 5, 2006 the company announced that it would show a forklift using compressed hydrogen fuel in an international comprehensive physical distribution exhibition held since Sept. 12, 2006. PEFC by a Canadian company, General Hydrogen is installed. [The Fuji Sankei Business Eye Sept. 6, 2006, The Nikkan Jidosha Shimbun (automobile) and The Chemical Daily Sept. 7, 2006.]
(2) Railway Technical Research Institute
@The institute developed an electric train driven by PEFC and it was open to public at the institute in Kokubunji city. The total length is 20 m, and it can run at the speed of 80 km/h with 100 kW PEFC. It is the policy to increase the output up to 300 kW in the future. [The Tokyo Shimbun Sept. 8, 2006.]
(3) JFE Container Co., Ltd.
@The company (Itami city in Hyogo prefecture) announced that it made contract of cooperative development of FC driven yard conveyors with Tokyo Gas Co., Ltd. and Kanto Agriculture Machinery Co., Ltd. (Oyama city in Tochigi prefecture). The development will be done for 5 years, and conveyors usable in perishable markets and in factory yards will be made. JFE Container Co., Ltd. is in charge of hydrogen supply system with cassettes and hydrogen supply system within vehicles, while Tokyo Gas Co., Ltd. will develop system for charging hydrogen, and mobile machines will be developed by Kanto Agriculture Machinery Co., Ltd. Trial conveyors will be assembled in 2007, and they will be operated in factory yards of Tokyo Gas Co., Ltd. in 2008 fiscal year. [The Denki shimbun (electricity), The Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun (business and technology), The Tekko Shimbun (iron and steel), The Chemical Daily Sept. 12, 2006, The Fuji Sankei Business Eye Sept. 16, 2006 and The Dempa Shimbun (radio wave) Sept. 18, 2006.]
(4) Kurimoto Ltd.
@A test will start in the end of September in Osaka prefecture. In the test PEFC installed electric wheelchairs will be used by handicapped persons. It was developed by Kurimoto Ltd., and it can run continuously for 10 hours, which is double of conventional wheelchair driven by batteries. It is expected that with this wheelchair handicapped persons and aged persons can easily go out and about. The wheelchairs will be used by several students of a handicapped persons' job training school managed by Osaka Prefecture (Sakai city) for moving in the school. Collecting data of electric generation and running, the stability and the endurance will be confirmed. Since 2007 fiscal year rental will be started to local governments, and after then rental to general persons will be examined. This trial wheelchair can run continuously for 10 hours by charging one small size hydrogen cylinder. Regular exchange is necessary for batteries, but it is not needed for FC. The tasks for real use are the cost and weight of the cylinder. The cost of trial wheelchair is several million yen, while the cylinder weighs 4.5 kg and it is too heavy for handicapped persons. According to the association for safety and propagation of wheelchair, shipped wheelchairs and carts in Japan in 2005 fiscal year are about 27,000 sets. [The Asahi Shimbun Sept. 16, 2006.]
(5) Suzuki Motor Corp.
@The company developed a DMFC installed electric wheelchair. In the first half of 2007 the company will begin its demonstration test of endurance etc. in cooperation with a public institute, and test sales are expected to start in 2009. [The Nihon Keizai Shimbun, The Chunichi Shimbun, The Shizuoka Shimbun Sept. 21, 2006.]
7.Technology Development of Reforming, Hydrogen Formation and Purification
(1) Hrein Energy and Tokyo Gas Co., Ltd.
@In collaboration with Tokyo Gas Co., Ltd., Hrein Energy company, a venture in Sapporo city developed an equipment in which hydrogen is produced by fermentation of garbage. In this system mainly agricultural organic garbage, such as bran, rice bran and squeezed residue of apples and grapes, is pretreated and thrown into the fermentation vessel, and then hydrogen producing bacteria taken from bowel of termites is added. From evolved gas mixture of CO2 and hydrogen, CO2 is removed with a gas purification equipment. In the case of treating saccharides of canned fruits, about 25 days are needed by conventional methane fermentation method, but by this new process fermentation completes in one day. It is said that 28 - 56 m3 hydrogen can be produced, when a hydrogen fermentation vessel of 4 ton capacity is used for treating 400 - 800 kg bran. The price of the equipment is much lower than the conventional one and it is estimated about 10 million yen. [The Hokkaido Shimbun Aug. 23, 2006.]
(2) Meiji University and RITE
@An assistant professor of Meiji University, Prof. Nagai and RITE set forth that they have developed membrane for separating CO2 from gas mixture at high temperature and high pressure. The developed membrane is polyimide film, and they utilizes phenomenon that the rate of CO2 dissolution into the film is much higher than those of natural gas and hydrogen. Thus CO2 can be separated from natural gas and coal gas. By controlling molecular structure of polyimide, they could prevent the film from performance decrease even at 150oC and 40 atmospheres. At present the thickness of the membrane is about 50 Êm, but they aim at real use of the membrane of 100 nm thickness. [The Nikkei Sangyo Shimbun (industry and technology) Sept. 13, 2006.]
(3) Toyota Central R&D Labs., Inc.
@The laboratories developed reforming technology by which hydrogen is produced from ethanol using microwave. For hydrogen production, a microwave heating equipment was developed. Because catalytic layers can be heated from inside in a short time, the equipment has feature of quick start and high-response load following characteristics. For the reformer they use a single mode resonator (a cavity) for concentrating energy. Quartz pipes are set in the reformer and catalyst pellets (rhodium and ceria base) are inserted in the center of the pipes. At reforming temperature of 500oC and from 1 mole of methanol 4.7 moles of hydrogen was obtained in 70% hydrogen concentration. [The Chemical Daily Sept. 21, 2006.]
(4) KRI International Inc. and Osaka University
@In cooperation with an assistant professor of graduate school of Osaka University, Prof. Nishiyama, KRI International Inc. developed a manufacturing method of hydrogen separating membrane of painting type. Taking into account of a fact that molecules larger than hydrogen cannot permeate through amorphous alumino-silicate skeleton, separating membrane was made. Zeolite powder was first dissolved and the solution was painted on the glass plate as uniform membrane of 10 Êm thickness. In zeolite crystals are cyclic structure of 8 atoms, 6 atoms and 4 atoms. Hydrogen molecule is small and its diameter is 0.25 nm, so that they make use of 6 atom cycles (0.28 nm) and 4 atom cycles (less than 0.28 nm) to separate only hydrogen. By the process of dissolution and painting the smaller cyclic structures were formed again. [The Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun (business and technology) Sept. 22, 2006.]
8.Sensor Technology for Measurement and Detection Related with Hydrogen
@A research group of sensor integration in National Institute for Industrial Science and Technology announced on Aug. 23, 2006 that they developed a sensor detecting hydrogen in a wide range from 0.5 ppm to 5%. They established technology for integrating platinum loaded high performance ceramic catalysts on micro-electronics elements, so that it became possible to integrate them on silicon chip. This thermoelectric hydrogen sensor is consisting of thermoelectric conversion film and platinum catalyst, and local temperature difference caused by reaction heat of hydrogen with catalyst is converted to electric voltage signal with thermoelectric conversion film. Thus hydrogen is detected. The catalyst works at controlled temperature of 100oC for keeping the catalyst in stable operation independently on atmospheric moisture. They developed heater integration technology and the group also improved thin film technology for making a thin film by spattering thermoelectric material, SiGe, so that the group succeeded in forming thin films of thermoelectric film, electrodes, circuit and heater on a silicon wafer. Application to a hydrogen station is expected. [The Nikkei Sangyo Shimbun (industry and technology) and The Chemical Daily Aug. 24, 2006.]
9.Trends in Development of DMFC and Micro-FC
(1) NEC Corp.
@NEC Corp. achieved 40% reduction in methanol crossover and weight energy density of 400 Wh/kg for DMFC stacks of rated output of 12 W (Maximum 20 W) using hydrocarbon based membrane which can control the moisture. This performance was achieved by development of new thin flat stacks (11 mm thickness), improvement in fuel supplying technology etc. On the other hand, fuel concentration in the cartridge was increased up to 60 vol%, and fuel utilization efficiency was also increased to 0.8 Wh/cc. By these performance improvements the effective output density of 45 mW/cm2 was kept even for methanol concentration of 50 vol%. They think that since now improvement in endurance, stability in unfavorable environment, strength and usability will be searched as well as cost reduction. [The Chemical Daily Aug. 21, 2006.]
(2) NTT DoCoMo, Inc.
@On Sept. 11, 2006 the company announced that it made a contract for investment with Aquafairy Co.(Ibaraki city, Osaka prefecture), which is carrying out development of FC for portable phones. In this FC unique hydrogen forming reagent is used, and mechanism of evolving hydrogen from water is greatly simplified. Twice power is obtained, while the size is reduced to 1/4. [The Asahi Shimbun, The Sankei Shimbun, The Nihon Keizai Shimbun, The Nikkei Sangyo Shimbun (industry and technology), The Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun (business and technology), The Juji Sankei Business Eye Sept. 12, 2006, The Chemical Daily Sept. 13, 2006 and The Denki Shimbun (electricity) Sept. 14, 2006.]
(3) JSR Corp.
@JSR Corp. decided to promote development of electrolyte membrane for FC as a new business in medium- and long-term plan aiming at 2010. The electrolyte membrane developed by JSR Corp. is aromatic hydrocarbon base, and it is accepted in FC stacks assembled by Honda R&D Co., Ltd. [The Dempa Shimbun (radio wave) Sept. 20, 2006.]
10.R&D of DCFC
@A group of assistant professor, Prof. Ihara, in Tokyo Institute of Technology has developed small size DCFC in which solid carbon directly reacts with oxygen by electrochemical reaction to form CO2. The FC is in experimental phase, and the cell combining the electrodes and the electrolyte is a disk of 2 cm in diameter, 0.3 mm in thickness, working at 750oC. The electrolyte membrane is ceria base ceramics doped with gadolinium, and oxide ions migrate through the membrane from the air electrode to the fuel electrode to react with carbon. The output power density is about 59 mW/cm2 and it is almost in the same level with conventional DMFC. However the fuel is solid, so that fuel tanks are unnecessary. It is expected to use this new FC as a portable FC. [The Nikkei Sangyo Shimbun (industry and technology) Aug. 24, 2006.]
------------ This edition is made up as of September 22, 2006. ---------------