THE LATEST FUEL CELL NEWS IN JAPAN, MAY 2007
〜930 Sets Stationary FC Demonstration in 07 Fiscal Year 〜

Arranged by T. HOMMA
1.National Policies
2.Elementary Technology Development for PEFC and DMFC
3.Demonstration and Business of Home-Use PEFC
4.FCV Forefront
5.Mobiles by FC
6.Trends in Development of Hydrogen Stations
7.Technology Development of Reforming, Hydrogen Formation and Purification
8.Technology Development of Hydrogen Storage and Transport
9.Development of Sensors Related with Hydrogen and FC

1.National Policies
(1) Japan-China Energy Cooperation Seminar
 Between Japan and China a bilateral cooperative seminar was held in the morning on April 12, 2007, and 180 companies participated. Six agreement documents were signed among energy related companies and laboratories of the two countries. For high efficiency in energy conversion and new energy utilization, many agreements were established. Among them Nippon Oil Corp. reached an agreement of expansion of technology cooperation in FC and cogeneration with the Chinese biggest oil company, CNPC. [The Nihon Keizai Shimbun April 12, 2007 and the Nikkei Sangyo Shimbun (economy and industry) April 13, 2007]

(2) Next Generation FC Technology Development by NEDO
 NEDO begins public collection of application to entrusted research of strategic technology development for PEFC real use / next generation technology development in 2007 fiscal year. [The Dempa Shimbun (radio wave) April 30, 2007]

(3) Fire Agency
 The agency will make draft amendment of the fire law, and in the amendment a hydrogen supplying facility is allowed to install with a conventional gas station, provided that predetermined safety measures are made. For example, FCV and hydrogen cars shall be guided to avoid crash with a gasoline meter, and the structure of a gas station shall be designed to avoid gathering of leaked hydrogen. An investigation committee on safety measures for hydrogen supplying facilities in the agency completed the report. As to unmanned gas stations, the report pointed out danger of errors to enter into gasoline supplying area and to collide with a gasoline meter by hydrogen FCV, and the safety measures, such as guidance by operators and some sign to avoid mistake, are needed. As to introduction of a hydrogen supplying facility into an inside gas station, the structure shall be designed so as to avoid hydrogen, such as hydrogen leaked at the charging, from gathering in a canopy etc., and the electric equipment shall be that of anti-explosive type. [The Nikkan Jidosha Shimbun (automobile) May 10, 2007]

(4) Patent Office
 On May 9, 2007, the Patent Office completed a report on trends of patent application in energy, life science and infrastructure. In energy field, increase in FC patent application is remarkable. Among those registered to Japan, US and Europe 67% is from Japan. FC patent applications from 1998 to 2004 from companies are as follows; top 3 are motor companies, i.e., Nissan Motor Corp. (1980), Toyota Motor Corp. (1546) and Honda Motors Co., Ltd. (1526) followed by Matsushita Electric Industrial Co., Ltd. (980), Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Ltd., (456), Toshiba Corp. (376) and Sanyo Electric Co. Ltd. (369). [The Fuji Sankei Business Eye May 10, 2007 and The Denki Shimbun (electricity) May 11, 2007]
2.Elementary Technology Development for PEFC and DMFC
(1) Nihon Paint Co., Ltd.
 In cooperative research with Prof. Tanemura of Tokyo Metropolitan University, the company developed technology to chemically produce nano-size noble metal particles like platinum on carbon powder in the room temperature. In the procedure platinum compound is dissolved in a mixed solvent of water and organic solvent. Commercially available carbon powder is mixed with this platinum compound solution, and then another organic solvent is added to it. Platinum ions are reduced and adhered on the carbon powder surface. The carbon powder is washed with water to remove impurities and then it is dried at the room temperature. By this procedure we obtain carbon powder of 50 - 100 nm diameter, on which platinum nano-particles of about 3 nm diameter are adhered. Usage of this material would be PEFC electrodes, cleanup of automobile exhausted gas and sensors. [The Nikkei Sangyo Shimbun (economy and industry) April 18, 2007]

(2) Tokyo University of Science
 A lecturer, Hayase, of Faculty of Science and Technology of Tokyo University of Science has developed a thin silicon electrode of 250 micron m thickness. He found that by wet plating porous silicon layer is converted to porous platinum layer, and by using this phenomenon he developed a new fabricating process. By wet plating platinum is piled up on porous silicon layer and in this process silicon is replaced by platinum to form the sponge-like porous platinum layer. For making new electrodes, the fuel channels are formed on the silicon base plate by micro-machining technology, and then the porous layer is formed on the rear surface by etching. This layer is converted to catalyst layer by the wet plating. Into conventional plating solution containing tetra-valence platinum ion, di-valence platinum ion and fluorine are added and thus fall down of porous layer is prevented. Using these electrodes and porous filling membrane of less swollen type, the cells were assembled and the power density of 35 mW/cm2 is observed. Hereafter assembling FC stacks will be examined and technology for platinum-ruthenium catalyst layer will also be tackled. [The Chemical Daily May 8, 2007]
3.Demonstration and Business of Home-Use PEFC
(1) Nippon Oil Corp. and Cosmo Oil Co., Ltd.
 On April 10, 2007 the above two companies announced that they made alliance in home-use FC business. Nippon Oil Corp. will supply LPG and kerosene fueled PEFC systems to Cosmo Oil Co., Ltd. (OMC), and the both companies will tap market, while they will carry out collaborative development for common use of components and cost reduction. Cosmo Oil Co., Ltd. will sell conventional systems in parallel with the OMC systems, but the specifications will be unified in the future. [The Nihon Keizai Shimbun, The Sankei Shimbun, The Denki Shimbun (electricity), The Nikkei Sangyo Shimbun (economy and industry), The Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun (business and technology), The Fuji Sankei Business Eye, The Chemical Daily April 11, 2007 and The Kensetsu Tsushin Shimbun (construction) April 16, 2007]

(2) Demonstration in 2007 Fiscal Year
 In business sectors of town gas and oil supply 14 companies join in demonstration using 930 sets of home-use FC. New Energy Foundation set forth participants on April 20, 2007. Nippon OIL Corp. increases FC sets by 95 sets than in 2006 fiscal year, and Tokyo Gas Co., Ltd. increases by 50 sets. Thus the two companies share 2/3 of total 930 sets. Used fuels are as follows; town gas 355 sets, LPG 424 sets and kerosene 151 sets. The subsidiary per 1 set is less than 3.5 million yen. [The Nihon Keizai Shimbun April 21, 2007, The Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun (business and technology) April 23, 2007, The Nikkei Sangyo Shimbun (economy and industry) April 24, 2007 and The Denki Shimbun (electricity) May 7, 2007]

(3) Evaluation of Demonstration Results by Toho Gas Co., Ltd.
 The company announced monitor test results of home-use PEFC cogeneration systems in customers' houses. In the first energy consumption like petroleum average 8.9% energy conservation effect was observed, and CO2 exhaustion was reduced by average 26.6%. By these results the company stated that energy conservation and environmentally benign characteristics of FC systems produced by the company were well demonstrated, and the company is aiming at commercialization in 2010, while making cost reduction from the present cost of 4.7 - 7.9 million yen per one set. In the monitor test the company got subsidiary (maximum 3.5 million yen per set), and it was done at customers' houses in Tokai 3 prefectures (Aichi, Gifu and Mie). In 2005 12 sets were tested, and 40 sets were installed in 2006. In 2007 to promote energy conservation and cost reduction in the installation, these were added to test of reliability and durability, and newly 38 sets were introduced. Thus the total monitored sets amounts to 90 sets. [The Denki Shimbun (electricity), The Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun (business and technology) and The Chunichi Shimbun May 8, 2007]
4.FCV Forefront
 Toyota Motor Corp. set forth on April 19, 2007 that FCV "Toyota FCHV" will be operated around Chubu International Airport as a truck on commercial service base. The company will lease the trucks freely to Yamato Transport Co., Ltd., which will use them for distribution. Service trucks are usually operated under harder conditions than passenger cars. It is the purpose of this operation to gather data for improvements of performance and manageability through this hard operation. [The Nikkei Sangyo Shimbun (economy and industry), The Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun (business and technology), The Chunichi Shimbun April 20, 2007, The Nikkan Jidosha Shimbun (automobile), The Fuji Sankei Business Eye and The Chemicl Daily April 25, 2007]
5.Mobiles by FC
 Prof. Wakisaka of Osaka Municipal University assembled a fish-shape robot driven by FC. Hydrogen is formed in the head, and the generation is made in the body with oxygen taken from the back to move the tail fin. It is 10 cm long and 3 cm wide. In the head polymer containing water and calcium hydride powder are stored, and hydrogen is formed by reaction of calcium hydride with water. A new method in which calcium is replaced by magnesium is under development. [The Nihon Keizai Shimbun April 27, 2007]
6.Trends in Development of Hydrogen Stations
 On April 18, 2007 Iwatani International Corp. announced that the company developed "Liquid Hydrogen Mobile Hydrogen Station" which can be used on a trailer. It starts operation in the beginning of May. It goes to the site to supply hydrogen for small-scale demand. Necessary equipments for supplying hydrogen are all on board, so that time for hydrogen supply is shortened. The capacity of liquid hydrogen is about 2,000 L and hydrogen can be charged directly to hydrogen-fueled cars at 35 MPa. Hydrogen can also be charged to satellite stations at 40 MPa. It would also be used for restocking hydrogen to these satellite stations. [The Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun (business and technology) and The Chemical Daily April 19, 2007]
 On May 7, 2007 Iwatani International Corp. opened Kansai Airport Hydrogen Station at the airport island in Sano city of Osaka prefecture. It is in a series of JHFC project, and investigation and data gathering will be made for 4 years. It is now a small and simple station coping with 1 - 2 FC cars, but equipments can be increased with increase of demand. [The Mainichi Shimbun, The Denki Shimbun (electricity) and The Chemical Daily May 8, 2007]
7.Technology Development of Reforming, Hydrogen Formation and Purification
 Kobe Steel Works, Ltd. succeeded in production of 99.99% highly pure hydrogen from natural gas at the efficiency of 80% hydrogen recovery. Gas obtained by reforming natural gas contains hydrogen, CO, CO2, methane etc., and among them removing CO is difficult, so that the rate of hydrogen recovery is limited at 70%. For removing CO the new process uses absorbent to which copper compound is added, and absorption of this new absorbent is 7 times larger than that of conventional one. Therefore the size of the new equipment is reduced by 30%, and also the cost reduction is anticipated. [The Nihon Keizai Shimbun April 20, 2007]
8.Technology Development of Hydrogen Storage and Transport
(1) Nippon Oil Corp. and Yamaguchi University
 In cooperation the above two developed combined hydrogen storage materials of magnesium and tin for hydrogen storage tanks to be used for FCV and hydrogen stations. Powder of compound composing magnesium and tin is mixed with organic solvent, cyclohexane. Magnesium absorbs hydrogen, and by adding tin, the material becomes light and the hydrogen releasing temperature is largely decreased. By the demonstration they confirmed that the material absorbs 3.5% hydrogen per weight and releases it at 200oC. [The Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun April 9, 2007]

(2) Tokai University
 Prof. Kuji and his group made new metallic material, which is made of inexpensive materials and can absorb large amount of hydrogen. It is metallic compound of magnesium and aluminum. Fine powders of magnesium and aluminum, both of 100 micron m diameter, were poured in a tank and then the powders were mixed in vacuum by rotating the tank at high speed rotation to form alloy (mechanical alloying). In this way only gamma phase was formed successfully. The composition can be changed 0.8 - 1.2 times from the standard composition. When it was the maximum (1.2 times) and 1% of niobium oxide was added as catalyst, the formed metallic compound absorbed and released 4.3% hydrogen. At 300oC absorption and release took place within about 1 hour. Absorbed hydrogen was all released. They expect that the performance, such as the working temperature, can be further improved for instance by choosing catalyst. [The Nikkei Sangyo Shimbun (economy and industry) April 27, 2007]
9.Development of Sensors Related with Hydrogen and FC
 On April 19, 2007 NGK Spark Plug Co., Ltd. announced its development of hydrogen sensors of heat conduction type. It consists of micro-heaters of diaphragm structure made by silicon MEMS technology and ultra-small detection device in which temperature sensors are integrated with an electronic circuit for sophisticated sensing algorism. By making full use of packaging technology, it can cope with high humidity atmosphere, so that they can be used in two usages, i.e., security against hydrogen leakage and control for efficient electric generation. As one of usages of hydrogen sensors applications, it is anticipated to apply them to monitoring hydrogen concentration in FC gas tubing. However, because of high humidity and organic silicone gas evolved from seal materials of FC, conventional hydrogen sensors are not endurable. The newly developed sensors can detect micro-amount of hydrogen by very small change in heat transfer (cooling by hydrogen). Moreover, the sensors are in a hard sensor housing together with the electric circuits, so that possibility of catalyst poisoning with organic silicone compounds is avoided. [The Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun (business and technology), The Dempa Shimbun (radio wave), The Chunichi Shimbun, The Chemical Daily April 20, 2007 and The Nikkan Jidosha Shimbun (automobile) April 21, 2007]

------------ This edition is made up as of May 11, 2007. ---------------