(1) Adoption of development themes for next generation
New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization (NEDO) decided trustees of 9 themes for next generation technology development in strategic PEFC technology development program for 2006 fiscal year. The themes entrusted are as follows; (1) 3 themes in technology for evaluation and analysis to National Institute for Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST), Hyogo Prefectural University, Musashi Institute of Technology etc., (2) 2 in elementary technology to Hokkaido University, Tokyo University etc. and (3) 4 in new concepts to Sophia University, Osaka Prefectural University, AIST, Nagoya University etc. In the new concepts Sophia University will deal with medium temperature non-humidified PEFC using basic polyelectrolyte, and AIST will be engaged in development of FC using ammonia and borane. [The Chemical Daily (Oct. 5, 2006), The Denki Shimbun (electricity), The Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun (business and technology) (Oct. 6, 2006) and The Dempa Shimbun (radio wave) (Oct. 9, 2006).]
(2) Advanced Basic Research of Metallic Hydrogen Storage Materials
Agency of Natural Resources and Energy under Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry will start advanced basic research on hydrogen storage materials for FC. The target is 6 wt% capacity of storage alloys, while it is 2.2 wt% at present. Achieving this target FCV range would be increased to 500 km. The development from fundamental research level is a 5 year project, and concentrated R&D will be done by a flexible network of domestic research institutes with AIST as the center. Budget of 800 million yen is claimed for 2007 fiscal year. In September the ministry agreed on research cooperation with US Los Alamos National Laboratory, and ideal structure design will be made by structural analysis of hydrogen storage materials, making full use of a quantum beam facility in the laboratory and simulation technique. [The Denki Shimbun (electricity) (Oct. 19, 2006).]
2.Demonstration of SOFC
(1) Demonstration plan since 2007
The Agency of Natural Resources and Energy under the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry will start demonstration of SOFC since 2007 fiscal year. For real use there are tasks, such as coping to materials aging due to high operating temperature and lack of accumulated demonstration data, so that it newly claimed 1 billion yen for 2007 for the demonstration. In the plan it is expected that 30 - 40 sets of small SOFC of 1 - 5 kW scale will be operated in real fields for 4 years. Concretely NEDO will entrust the operation to gas companies and energy enterprises, and gathered data will be examined to extract R&D tasks. [The Denki Shimbun (electricity) (Oct. 18, 2006).]
(2) French Saint-Gobain
The company announced that it aimed at business of SOFC. To promote hasty product development, it made contract with FZ Urich, a German national institute with ample experience in the stacks. The company is dealing widely with ceramics, such as alumina, zirconia and silicon carbide, and among them "Zirpro" of zirconia base is thought promising for SOFC. [The Chemical Daily (Oct. 23, 2006) and The Nikkan Kensetsu Kogyo Shimbun (construction) (Oct. 26, 2006).]
3.Research of PEFC Elementary Technologies
(1) US Los Alamos National Laboratory
A research team in the above laboratory developed catalyst for air electrodes of PEFC in which platinum is not used. The catalyst consists of cobalt, carbon and polymer. It was confirmed that it withstands continuous operation for 100 hours. [The Nikkei Sangyo Shimbun (industry and technology) (Oct. 11, 2006).]
(2) Tokyo Agricultural and Industrial University
A research group of an assistant professor, Prof. Nagai and others in the university developed catalyst for fuel electrodes of PEFC in which molybdenum and nickel are used as main materials instead of platinum. The catalyst is made in the following way. (1) ammonium molybdate and nickel nitrate are mixed in water and dried. Then the mixture is sintered to form oxides. (2) The oxides are put in a quartz reactor and heated at 550 - 800oC under flow of methane and hydrogen to form carbides. (3) They are mixed with carbon in medium. This catalyst was used in fuel electrodes, while platinum was used in air electrodes. The assembled cells were tested and the results are that the activity of dissociating hydrogen molecule into hydrogen ion and electron is about 10% compared with usual platinum catalyst, but it can be expected that the cost would be greatly reduced replacing expensive platinum. [The Nikkei Sangyo Shimbun (industry and technology) (Oct, 23m 2006).]
4.Demonstration and Business Deployment of Home-Use PEFC
(1) Toshiba Fuel Cell Power Systems Corp.
Toshiba Fuel Cell Power Systems Corp. has been developing home-use PEFC systems with Osaka Gas Co., Ltd., and it will bring them into the market in 2008 fiscal year. In this year PEFC systems of 700 W for detached houses will begin to be sold, and it is planned to sell nearly 2000 sets at least over 1000 sets. Technology development is now being promoted to reduce the cost aiming at the sales price of about 1.2 million yen. Both town gas and LPG can be commonly used with the same type, and the electric generating efficiency is forecasted to be 35% for town gas and 33% for LPG respectively. The reason for deciding the rated output of 700 W was explained that it is based on its examination results for reduction of electricity and gas by introducing FC. In the examination the highest efficiency was found in the range from 700 to 800 W.
On the other hand, the company is now carrying out small scale FC of 500 W for apartment houses in cooperation with Osaka Gas Co., Ltd. In 2006 fiscal year 8 sets will be installed in an experimental apartment house "Next 21" which is managed by Osaka Gas Co., Ltd. These will be operated by collaboration of the two companies. It is also expected that both types of FC for detached houses and apartment houses would be lined up in 2010. A concentrated reformer will be set at a site of the apartment house and hydrogen gas formed and purified in the reformer is distributed with pipes. By this scheme PEFC main bodies can become smaller and they can be installed at a space near the entrance. [The Denki Shimbun (electricity) (Oct. 16, 2006).]
(2) Dainichi Co., Ltd.
Dainichi Co., Ltd. in Niigata city announced on Oct. 18, 2006 that it developed a burner for home-use PEFC using kerosene "ENEOS ECOBOY" commercialized by Nippon Oil Corp. The development was done together with the latter company. The burner (heater) is attached to PEFC produced since this month. The characteristic point of the burner is that it can be used for kerosene and hydrogen both. At the start-up kerosene is used for heating, while residual hydrogen after using for electric generation is usually used for heating by switching. Thus hydrogen is prevented from evolving to outside. [The Niigata Nippo (Oct. 19, 2006), The Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun (business and technology) (Oct. 20, 2006) and The Dempa Shimbun (radio wave) (Oct. 24, 2006).]
(3) Sumitomo Mitsui Construction Co., Ltd.
In cooperation with 7 companies including Marubeni Corp. and Nihon Soken, Inc. the company developed system for efficiently controlling electric power for residences. A network covers more than 10 homes with an electric connection, and surplus power is accommodated to reduce the expense by forecasting power demand of each home using specific software. This software is consisted with "Center Controlling Software" for managing the network and "Individual Controlling Software" for controlling electric demand and consumption of each home. By the center controlling software an electric generation plan of the next day is calculated, and it is adjusted every 10 minutes coping to real electric consumption. Thus operation of FC can be optimized. Following electric consumption in homes electric power is accommodated and surplus power is automatically stored. According to the simulation, expense for electric power can be reduced by over 50,000 yen annually for an average home of 4 persons. The demonstration will start in 2007 and commercialization is aimed at the end of 2008 fiscal year. [The Nikkei Sangyo Shimbun (industry and technology)(Oct. 24, 2006)]
(4) Nippon Oil Corp.
The company made contract with Oriental Land Corp. managing Tokyo Disney Land (TDL), and it decided to install 1 kW class PEFC specific to LP gas, "ENEOS ECO LP-1" in the central first-aid station of TDL. [The Chemical Daily (Oct. 26, 2006)]
5.Forefront of Development of FCV and Other FC Mobiles
(1) Honda R&D Co., Ltd.
The company improves all aspects of FCV leased to the government etc. at present, and new FCV will be sold since 2008 in Japan and US. The weight of the stacks is reduced by 30% and the efficiency is improved by 10%. Thus the range of the new car is extended by 30% and to 570 km by one charge of hydrogen. The maximum speed is also increased by 10 km/h to 160 km/h. Furthermore by adopting new scheme of flowing hydrogen and water in vertical direction, the room space is expanded compared with conventional cars. Considering personal use the lease rate will be reduced from 800,000 yen per month at present. The name of the new car is "FCX Concept."
Honda R&D Co., Ltd. also exhibited to the press "Next Generation Diesel Engine" which clears regulation of US California State. By forming ammonia with catalyst in the engine, they succeeded in large reduction of exhausted NOX. [The Asahi Shimbun, The Mainichi Shimbun, The Nihon Keizai Shimbun, The Nikkei Sangyo Shimbun (industry and technology), The Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun (business and technology), The Nikkan Jidosha Shimbun (automobile), The Tokyo Shimbun, The Fuji Sankei Business Eye (Sept. 25, 2006), The Sankei Shimbun and The Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun (business and technology) (Sept. 26, 2006.)]
(2) Suzuki Motor Corp.
On Sept. 26, 2006 the company set forth that it developed a wheelchair powered by DMFC, "MIO." It can run 40 km with 4L of methanol aqueous solution. Since 2007 the demonstration will be started and it is planned to start the sale in 2009. [The Sankei Shimbun, The Nikkei Sangyo Shimbun (industry and technology), The Denki Shimbun (electricity), The Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun (business and technology), The Nikkan Jidosha Shimbun (Automobiles), The Shizuoka Shimbun, The Tokyo Shimbun, The Chugoku Shimbun and The Fuji Sankei Business Eye (Sept. 27, 2006)]
(3) Railway Technical Research Institute
On Sept 29, 2006 it opened to public trial run of train by FC at its facility in Kokubunji city of Tokyo prefecture. The FC system is installed above the floor and the hydrogen tank is beneath the floor. [The Nihon Keizai Shimbun, The Tokyo Shimbun (Sept. 30, 2006), The Nikkei Sangyo Shimbun (industry and technology), The Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun (business and technology) (Oct. 2, 2006) and The Chemical Daily (Oct. 3, 2006)]
(4) East Japan Railway Co.
On Oct. 19, 2006 the company exhibited a hybrid train of FC and lithium batteries at Yokohama Work of Tokyu Car Corp. (Yokohama city). Two sets of FC of 65 kW output (total 130 kW) and a hydrogen tank of 270 L are installed beneath the floor, and the lithium batteries of total 300 kW at maximum are set above the roof. By one charge of hydrogen it can run 50 - 100 km. The maximum speed is 100 km/h, and the acceleration is comparable with a newest commuter train. [The Mainichi Shimbun, The Nihon Keizai Shimbun, The Denki Shimbun (electricity), The Nikkei Sangyo Shimbun (industry and technology), The Kanagawa Shimbun, The Tokyo Shimbun, The Fuji Sankei Business Eye, The Kahoku Shimpo (Oct. 20, 2005) and The Sankei Shimbun (Octr. 22, 2006)]
(5) Osaka Science and Technology Center etc.
The center started monitoring test of FC small mobiles such as FC wheelchairs in Osaka together with Kurimoto, Ltd. and Iwatani International Corp. It is in the JHFC project by JARI (Japan Automobile Research Institute) and ENAA. The mobiles to be demonstrated are 3 goods, i.e., FC driven wheelchairs, karts (both are developed by Kurimoto, Ltd.) and motor assisted bicycles (Iwatani International Corp.). The wheelchair can run 10 hours at the speed of 6 km/h continuously by using both lithium battery and FC with a hydrogen cylinder put on the rear side of the back. Demonstration of the wheelchairs and the karts will be done in Osaka handicapped persons' job training school (Sakai city in Osaka prefecture) and in Osaka Prefecture office, respectively. [The Fuji Sankei Business Eye (Oct. 3, 2006), The Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun (business and technology) (Oct. 4, 2006), The Nikkan Jidosha Shimbun (automobiles) (Oct. 13, 2006) and The Mainichi Shimbun (Oct. 18, 2006)]
(6) Mitsubishi Motor Corp.
On Oct. 4, 2006 it decided to abandon development of FCV and to concentrate its effort into development of EV and diesel engine cars. [The Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun (business and technology) (Oct. 5, 2006).]
(7) Zero Sports Co., Ltd.
On Oct. 18, 2006 the company (Kagamihara city, Gifu prefecture) announced its development of a small mobile. In the development PEFC was set in a small 4 wheel car "Exceed RS" sold by the company. The FC was originally designed by the company, and it is arranged in 2 series of total 2.4 kW output. The range achieved is 150 km. A system to select the optimum running mode for FC by originally developed software is installed, and a digital panel is also set for central control of gas pressures and temperatures at some points. For safety purpose a small pump is adopted to keep temperatures in the stack constant by water circulation, and pressure sensors are set at some points of gas lines for automatic control, so that safety function works when disorder is detected. [The Chemical Daily (Oct. 19, 2006), The Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun (business and technology) (Oct. 20, 2006) and The Nikkan Jidosha Shimbun (automobiles) (Oct. 26, 2006).]
(8) Yamaha Motor Co., Ltd.
On Oct. 19, 2006 the company announced that it would exhibit a hybrid bike "FC-AQEL" in "EVS22" to be held in Yokohama on Oct. 23. The bike is a hydrogen fueled FC hybrid bike of 125 cc class. The hydrogen FC and secondary battery were originally developed, and 2 high-pressure hydrogen cylinders of 35 MPa are installed. [The Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun (business and technology), The Nikkan Jidosha Shimbun (automobiles), The Chunichi Shimbun, The Fuji Sankei Business Eye (Oct. 20, 2006) and The Chemical Daily (Oct. 23, 2006).]
6.Technology of Hydrogen Stations and Their Installation
(1) Japan Steel Works, Ltd.
The compressor of the maximum capacity developed by Hiroshima Work of Japan Steel Works, Ltd. was installed at the hydrogen station in the island of Chubu International Airport. It supplies hydrogen to buses and will work until 2010. With this compressor the hydrogen pressure is increased to 400 atmospheres, and hydrogen can be charged in the tank of the bus at the rate of 100 m3/h. Compression is made by diaphragm type of deforming cylindrical membrane. Hiroshima Work started development of hydrogen compressors since 2001, and total 20 have been installed in firms. At present it is making development of piston type compressors. [The Chugoku Shimbun (Sept. 26 and 27, 2006)]
(2) Idemitsu Kosan Co., Ltd.
On Oct. 10, 2006 Idemitsu Kosan Co., Ltd. announced that it would construct a hydrogen station for FCV in Ichihara city of Chiba prefecture. It constructed a hydrogen station in April of 2004 in Hatano city of Kanagawa prefecture and it has been working for 2 years. This station will be moved to Ichihara city. In the new station hydrogen is produced by water vapor reforming, and it can charge 5 passenger cars and 1 bus continuously. At present hydrogen is not needed except FCV, so that long time operation of the facility is in difficult situation. However in the new station it was devised that the produced hydrogen can be used as fuel for the reformer, and thus the long time operation becomes feasible. The hydrogen station in Ichihara city is set up in the same site of a gas station and their area is 726m2. [The Nikkei Sangyo Shimbun (industry and technology), The Chemical Daily (Oct. 11, 2006), The Denki Shimbun (electricity) (Oct. 12, 2006) and The Fuji Sankei Business Eye (Oct. 14, 2006)]
7.Technology Development for Hydrogen Formation and Purification
(1) Air Water Inc.
The company in Sakai city of Osaka prefecture started a new project for full advance to a new business of catalyst of the next generation for producing hydrogen. The new technology was established by Prof. Emeritus Inui of Kyoto University. The new catalyst contains four elements, i.e., nickel, cerium oxide, platinum and rhodium. They stated as follows. This catalyst has special function that the reactivity increases with decrease of the length, and the size can be reduced to 1/50 compared with conventional catalysts. The reforming is made by oxidation reaction of internal combustion, and both endothermic reaction and exothermic reaction of oxidation are promoted with this one catalyst. Therefore, an outer heating furnace is not needed, so that downsizing of the reformer can be done. Furthermore, the start-up time can be greatly reduced, because the reforming temperature can be decreased to 300oC. The company developed a new special carrier in collaboration with Prof. Inui. In 2002 it completed a LPG reformer using this new catalyst, and it succeeded in real use of an ultra small hydrogen reforming plant in 2006. Since now the company will commercialize these as "VH series" aiming at propagation for small and medium factories. [The Chemical Daily (Oct. 3, 2006)]
(2) Chiyota Corp.
The company promotes real use of technology for highly efficient hydrogen production and transportation. In the end of 2006 fiscal year it will complete demonstration of reformer technology of controlled high-temperature air burning (HiCOT), by which hydrogen is produced efficiently from naphtha and natural gas by burning them with high-temperature air containing oxygen of low concentration. Since the next fiscal year the company is planning further demonstration at commercial plant scale. HiCOT is a technology of keeping combustion at low concentration of oxygen by using high-temperature air over 800oC. In reforming process using this technology, it becomes possible to reduce energy consumption and NOX exhaustion by 30% in comparison with conventional water vapor reforming. Moreover, the company is dealing with development of chemical hydride technology for hydrogen storage and transportation at high pressure and ambient temperature. In this technology methylcyclohexane is used as a hydrogen carrier. Working at the ambient temperature and pressure, the carrier converts to toluene to evolve hydrogen, and thus cyclic reactions of hydrogen storage and evolution proceed. To find catalyst for dehydrogenation of methylcyclohexane is a hard task, but favorable evaluation of performance was obtained. The company will promote confirmation of performance necessary for industrialization. [The Chemical Daily (Oct. 13, 2006)]
8.Technology Development of Hydrogen Storage and Transportation
Shell Hydrogen BV set forth agreement of 4 year cooperative research on hydrogen storage technology with ICES, an organization for technology development of Singapore. A research group of ICES makes R&D of lithium nitride and its additives, which are promising as materials for efficient hydrogen storage and evolution. Through this project ICES and Shell Hydrogen BV are aiming at resolution of unsolved problems, which limit storage capacity, and also aiming at decreasing hydrogen cycle temperature to practical level. [The Chemical Daily (Oct. 17, 2006)]
9.Development of Micro FC and Related Technology
(1) Nitta Moore Co. etc
The company in Osaka city begins to sell small pumps using a piezoelectric element, which elongates, shrinks and vibrates when applying electric field. The size is 14 mm square and less than one yen coins. They seem useful for small FC and for water cooling of personal computers to reduce the size. The deformation of piezoelectric elements depends on frequency and voltage of electric field, so that micro scale control is possible. They said control at accuracy of minimum 50 nL/min can be done. The piezoelectric pump was developed by a German company, Partels Microtechnishe BV. Nitta Moore Co. will sell it together with fine tubes and joints. The price is estimated to be about 20,000 yen at the beginning. [The Nikkei Sangyo Shimbun (industry and technology)(Oct. 16, 2006)]
(2) Hitachi, Ltd.
The company set forth a trial product of universal power source with DMFC. It is passive type of lateral arrangement without separators. Catalyst by Hitachi Maxell, Ltd. is used, while electrolyte membrane of hydrocarbon by Hitachi Chemicals, Ltd. is adopted to prevent water and methanol from permeation. The fuel tank is set in the hinge. The fuel is injected from another tank. The inlet for injection was developed in cooperation with Tokai Corp., and it does not work, when it is not fit. In the hinge the USB connector is set, and charging can be done to the USB appliances by cable connection. [The Chemical Daily (Oct. 17, 2006)]
------------ This edition is made up as of October 27, 2006. ---------------