(1) The next generation automobile fuel initiative
On May 28, 2007 Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry was going to decide "the next generation automobile fuel initiative" together with associations of automobile manufacturers and oil industry. As described in the strategic grand policies for the economic growth, the oil dependence in the transport sector should be reduced by 20% till 2030. To realize this goal it is reconfirmed to promote realization of the hydrogen society in cooperation between government and industries by propagating bio-fuels and clean diesel cars, promoting development of electrification, the next generation batteries and FC. Included concrete items are development and promotion of bio-ethanol mixed with gasoline and its mixture with kerosene (bio-diesel oil), especially cellulose base biomass, which is not competitive with foodstuff. Clean diesel cars, introduction of which is delayed in this country, would positively developed with anticipation of GTL. As to batteries the aims are performance improvement by 1.5 times compared with advanced batteries in 2015 and 7 times improvement in 2030, and electric cars would be promoted on these bases. The completed report will be presented in the governmental advisory conference on economy and finance, and it will be included in the fundamental strategy in 2007. In the meeting on May 28, 2007, the minister and the presidents of the above associations were going to participate. [The Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun (business and technology) May 25, 2007]
On May 28, 2007 Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry completed "the next generation automobile fuel initiative" in which perspectives and goals in the automobile sector are described till 2030. The contents and goals are as follows. (1) The oil dependence in transport sector should be reduced from 100% at present to about 80% in 2030. (2) Technology for bio-mass based on construction waste、rice straws etc should be promoted to reduce the present manufacturing cost of 150 yen/L to 40 yen/L in 2015. (3) Urban transport systems should be intensified using IT to increase average speed by 2 times. (4) Aiming at real propagation of FCV, R&D of annual budget of 32 billion yen should be continued to reduce the present price of several hundreds millions yen per one car to the present gasoline car price, 3 million yen per car. (5) By starting an R&D project for the next generation batteries and setting up charging stations, compact EV should be really propagated since 2010 and EV since 2030. (6) To promote clean diesels R&D of kerosene base new fuels, such as GTL and hydrogenated bio-kerosene, should be made, and introduction of diesel cars, which are coped with the new regulation since 2010 fiscal year, should also be promoted. [The Asahi Shimbun, The Mainichi Shimbun, The Sankei Shimbun, The Denki Shimbun (electricity), The Nikkei Sangyo Shimbun (economy and industry)、The Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun（business and technology）, The Chugoku Shimbun, The Hokkaido Shimbun, The Nikkan Jidosha Shimbun (automobile), The Fuji Sankei Business Eye, and The Chemical Daily May 29, 2007]
(2) Subsidy for home-use FC
On May 28, 2007 Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry decided a policy to support home-use FC sales by subsidy. It aims at inspiring effort of the cost reduction in manufacturers to reduce the initial expense for installation in homes below one million yen. At present the manufacturers are leasing FC, but it seems to change gradually to selling them. However, the manufacturing cost is still high and it is estimated over 4 million yen, but some manufacturer forecasted it to be 1.2 million yen in 2009 fiscal year and 0.5 million yen in 2015 fiscal year. [The Yomiuri Shimbun May 28, 2007].
(3) Technology Innovation Activity for New Energy Ventures by NEDO
On May 31, 2007 NEDO announced that it starts technology innovation activity for incubating new energy ventures by supporting companies, universities and public research institutes making new business development in new energy field. It intends innovation of new industrial fields supporting the next generation energy by venture incubation in the new energy field. The budget for 2007 fiscal year is 300 million yen. The objects are in the new energy fields, such as solar photovoltaic power generation, biomass, FC, batteries, wind power generation, and other unused energies. Public applications will be classified into two; the phase I for business feasibility investigation (within 1 year) and the phase II for R&D and commercialization (within 2 years as a general rule). [The Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun (business and technology) June 1, 2007]
(4) Technology development of hydrogen storage and installation in FCV
Anticipating real propagation of FCV, Agency of Natural Resources and Energy develops technology for safe and low-cost installation of large amount of hydrogen. Fundamental research will be made for principle and materials of hydrogen storage, and method for large increase in storage capacity is expected to be established. The research is entrusted to universities and independent legal persons, and it will be made since 2007 fiscal year as a 5 year program. This advanced basic research activity for hydrogen storage materials will be done through NEDO. Thirteen organizations, including National Institute for Advanced Industrial Science and Technology, Japan Atomic Energy Agency, Sophia University and Hiroshima University, will be decided and the concrete activities will be started. [The Nikkan Jidosha Shimbun (automobile) June 8, 2007]
2.Policies by Foreign Governments and International Organization
World Automobile Standards Harmonization Forum (WP29) in the United Nations European Committee of Economy (UN/ECE) will formulate unified world standards on FCV crash safety aiming at 2010. In the phase I they examine national technical standards for hydrogen leakage and high voltage based on national automobile crash safety standards. In the phase II unification of crash tests methods will be discussed. In Japan the following FCV technical standards were formulated, and the unified world standards will also be discussed on the base of Japanese standards.
Japanese Ministry of Land, Transport and Infrastructure formulated FCV technical standards on safety and environment on the occasion of revision of the law on public-road running automobile in March 2005, and safety standards for high-pressure hydrogen containers and high voltage were established. Especially for FCV, security of human bodies against hydrogen leakage and accumulation as well as high voltage of power sources. WP 29 established experts meeting for discussing the unified world standards, and the first meeting was held in Japan. [The Nikkan Jidosha Shimbun (automobile) May 21, 2007]
3.R&D of SOFC Related Technologies
(1) Osaka Gas Co., Ltd.
The company succeeded in development of a small-scale chemical heat pump together with Sumitomo Precision Products Co. Ltd. and Functional Fluids Co., Ltd. (Osaka city). By unification with a home-use cogeneration system, the whole system was largely simplified, and thus the conventional four vacuum containers became one. Introducing this into the SOFC cogeneration systems, exhausted heat recovery efficiency increases from 30% to 45%. The heat storage and release subsystem of the chemical reactor, the water vapor evaporator, condenser etc. are put in a vacuum container. In the chemical reactor composite material of swollen graphite and calcium chloride is filled in the heat exchanger. Thus the achieved COP is over 1.5. [The Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun (business and technology) May 22, 2007]
(2) Daiichi Kigenso Kagaku Kogyo Co., Ltd. and Tanaka Chemical Laboratory
The above companies cooperatively developed technology for making electrodes by sintering new anode materials for SOFC. The new materials are mixtures of nickel oxide and zirconium compound. Their electric conductivity is high, and highly gas permeable electrode can be made. Two varieties of the materials are available; one is for low-temperature SOFC (700oC, NiO-ScSZ mixture) and the other is for high-temperature use (about 1000oC, NiO-YSZ mixture). They are going to ship the samples since June. The two companies optimized powder geometry and mixing state and succeeded in technology development for easily sintering highly conductive electrodes. They anticipated that if it proceeds successfully, they could produce them in mass production scale about 2010. [The Nikkei Sangyo Shimbun (economy and industry) June 1, 2007, The Chemical Daily June 4, 2007 and The Fuji Sankei Business Eye June 5, 2007]
4.Development of Elementary Technologies for PEFC and DMFC
Asahi Kasei Finechem Co., Ltd. (Osaka city) announced on June 4, 2007 that it succeeded in establishment of industrialized technology for making vinyl sulphonic acid, which is the smallest vinyl monomer having a sulphonic acid group. The company developed unique polymerization technology for polymerizing this monomer to produce non-sodium salt type poly(sulphonic acid) of over 95% purity and composing only of vinyl group and sulphonic acid. Another characteristic property is its affinity to solvents. Because other functional groups, such as amide group, does not contained, other reaction does not occur and degradation of the electrolyte can be controlled. It is non-sodium salts type, so that sodium ions are not in the polymer. Because of solvent affinity it can be used with various organic solvents. The polymer was going to be sold since June 11, 2007 by the commercial name of "YSA-H" as hydrocarbon base electrolyte for PEFC and DMFC. The Nikkei Sangyo Shimbun (economy and industry), The Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun (business and technology) and The Chemical Daily June 5, 2007]
5.Development of Electrolyte Membrane of Gypsum
A professor emeritus Abe and his group (Nagoya Institute of Technology) made electrolyte of gypsum for FC, and it is made by mixing calcium sulfate powder with phosphoric acid solution instead of water. Its relatively high conductivity is caused presumably because of phosphoric acid impregnated into voids of gypsum, and hydrogen ion produced by replacement of sulfuric acid with phosphoric acid. Furthermore hydrogen ion in phosphoric acid substitutes for hydrogen ion formed from hydrogen gas flowing into FC. Thus it can be used as electrolyte membrane. As a result of tests its conductivity is 0.01 S/cm, and the high conductivity is kept up to 200oC. When the membrane of 4 mm thickness was applied to FC, the power density observed is 45 mW/cm2 at 20oC and 65 mW/cm2 at 80oC. The conductivity is high at 200oC, but degradation may occur at this temperature. [The Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun (business and technology) June5, 2007]
6.Demonstration Results of Business-Use and Home-Use PEFC
(1) Nippon Oil Corp.
On June 5, 2007 the above company announced that accumulated operating time of a business-use 10 kW output kerosene-fueled PEFC plant installed at Hiroshima Diamond Hotel reached 10 thousand hours. The demonstration has been carried out since 2005 together with Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Ltd. Compared with thermal power stations, reduction ratio of CO2 exhaustion is 30%. Based on these results, a modified system is going to be installed at student cafeteria of Kyushu University and the operation will start in October. [The Denki Shimbun(electricity), The Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun (business and technology) and The Fuji Sankei Business Eye June 6, 2007]
(2) Sanyo Electric Co., Ltd.
The company stated on June 5, 2007 about general sales start of home-use PEFC since 2009. The production cost is about 3.5 million yen per one set at present, and it is anticipated to reduce it to 1.2 million yen per on set till 2009 by mass production, reducing the number of components and utilization of components for general usages. By subsidy it is expected to reduce it to below 1 million yen. [The Yomiuri Shimbun June 7, 2007]
7.Technology of Reforming, Hydrogen Production and Purification
(1) Kyoto University and Kansai Electric Power Co., Ltd.
Professor Inoue and Associate Professor Iwamoto of technology school, graduate course of Kyoto University developed catalyst for making selectively CNT (carbon nano-tube) from methane with simultaneously producing hydrogen without by-product of CO. This is nickel catalyst carried on zirconia, but zirconia is made by unique gluco-thermal method. It is large sphere in their geometry compared with commercial one, and the surface area (150 m2/g) is 3 folds larger than that of commercial products. When nickel was loaded on this zirconia, high catalytic activity was observed, and only CNT was synthesized from methane without formation of carbon. When only methane was fed as material, CNT grow time was extended and long CNT was obtained. The by-product, hydrogen seems to keep the catalytic activity, and the mechanism is now investigated. On the other hand hydrogen formed in this process does not contain CO, and it can be used for FC. [The Chemical Daily May 17, 2007]
(2) Honjo Chemical Corp.
This company in Osaka prefecture succeeded in removing CO by irradiating silica gel with ultraviolet light. Since CO in hydrogen can be oxidized, it is applicable to FC as selectively oxidizing catalyst substituting platinum catalyst. By adjusting pore size of silica gel, volatile organic compounds (VOC), such as toluene, acetaldehyde, xylene etc., can also be oxidized to CO2 with ultraviolet light, so that it expects to use it for VOC reduction. Now it is confirmed that CO can be oxidized to CO2 using silica gel photo-oxidizing reaction. In the case of removing test of CO in ambient atmosphere, CO is perfectly oxidized within 4 hours. In the case of removing test in hydrogen the initial CO concentration of 1000 ppm decreases to 700 ppm within 4 hours. The oxidation proceeds only by ultraviolet irradiation, and no recovery treatment is required. The effect is sustainable even in humidity. It is safe for human body, and inexpensive. Therefore, the company expects that it would be used in a reformer for FC as substitute for platinum catalyst. Early realization is aimed at with consideration of license and cooperative development. [The Chemical Daily May 17, 2007]
(3) Toyama National College of Technology, Tonami Transportation Co., Ltd. and Toyama Industrial Technology Center
The above three announced on May 21, 2007 that they begin system development for treating waste of aluminum-coated paper used for beverage containers to get hydrogen and to use it in FC. A mini-plant will be assembled in 2008 fiscal year, and the demonstration will be done 3 years later. Nihon Tetrapack Co., Ltd. (Tokyo) cooperates with them, and residues occurring in paper recycling factory of the company are used. The paper free residue is dried and high-purity aluminum is recovered. High-purity hydrogen is produced by reaction of aluminum with sodium hydroxide. By-products in hydrogen producing process are also used for ceramic materials. [The Toyama Shimbun and The Chemical Daily May 22, 2007]
(4) Kyushu University and others
Prof. Ishihara of Kyushu University, Denken Co., Ltd. (Oita prefecture), Mitsubishi Materials Corp., Kyushu Electric Power Co., Ltd. and others developed technology, by which hydrogen and oxygen are formed using electrolysis of water vapor at 600 - 800oC on ceramic electrodes. The unique point is highly oxide ion conductivity. The voltage of the electrolysis is 0.9V. If this technology can be really applied, exhausted heat from thermal power stations, iron factories etc. can be used for hydrogen production. It is planned to demonstrate this technology in 2007 fiscal year using a power station of Kyushu Electric Power Co., Ltd. [The Nikkei Sangyo Shimbun (economy and industry) May 25, 2007]
(5) JFCC, Noritake Co., Ltd., and others
Japan Fine Ceramics Center (JFCC) developed high-performance hydrogen separating ceramic membrane in collaboration with Noritake Co., Ltd., NOK Corp., Tokyo University etc. The newly developed hydrogen separating membrane is made in a cylindrical form of 3 mm diameter. On porous ceramic layer (about 150 nm pore size) made by sintering alumina, more fine ceramic layer (4 - 8 nm pore size) and non-crystalline silica (the same pore size) are formed successively. Methane gas and water vapor are flowed outside of the three layered cylinder, and hydrogen and CO are formed by catalyst of nickel, palladium etc. on the surface. Only hydrogen molecules can permeate through the non-crystalline silica separating membrane to the inside. Thus hydrogen is obtained. The catalyst and the separating membrane are directly connected, so that heat needed for hydrogen formation is reduced largely, and hydrogen is formed at about 500oC, which is about 300oC lower than conventional methods. [The Nikkei Sangyo Shimbun (economy and industry) May 28, 2007]
(6) Osaka University
Prof. Kaneda et al. in solar energy chemical research center of Osaka University developed catalyst of the next generation type for oxidation and dehydrogenation of alcohol without oxidizing reagents. It is combination of silver and hydrotalcide (HT), a variety of basic layered clay, and pure hydrogen is obtained as by-product. The developed catalyst is so active that ketone and hydrogen easily formed simply by sealing it in a glass container with inert gas and by heating it. The most characteristic point is that the oxidation proceeds without oxidizing reagent, and it is a clean reaction in which only pure hydrogen is evolved as by-product. The yield is extremely high and over 99%. It is so efficient that the molecules formed per one atom of silver (turn over) are 22,000 in the case of oxidation of cyclo-octanol. Even in the cases of cyclic aliphatic alcohol and large molecular alcohol, which are hardly oxidized, ketone is formed at the efficiency of over 99%. The catalyst is in the form of grains, and it can easily separated and recovered by filtration. The silver particle is stable during the reaction, and dissolution of silver into the reacting liquid is not observed. HT has property of adsorbing metallic ion and also highly stable material. [The Chemical Daily May 31, 2007]
(7) Kinki University
hydrogen from excrement of livestock. By using photo-catalyst and ultraviolet light, hydrogen is obtained decomposing methylamine contained in excrement. As the photo-catalyst titanium oxide powder and platinum are used. Water and methylamine are poured into a test tube, and the photo-catalyst is added. Then by ultraviolet light irradiation, methylamine is decomposed into hydrogen and CO2. The amount of evolved hydrogen is 3 times larger than methylamine. They have intension of improvement to replace ultraviolet light by visible light, and they also have intension to transfer this technology to companies. [The Nikkei Sangyo Shimbun (economy and industry) June 6, 2007]
8.Technology Development of Hydrogen Transport and Storage
Technobank (Tokyo prefecture) developed technology, by which hydrogen of 7 mass % and electromotive force of 2.7 V are formed from magnesium hydride MgH2, water and air to supply hydrogen to FC. The company also developed technology of packing this system into a cassette. An anode, a cathode and electrolyte are put in the cassette, and MgH2 is set as the anode active material. Magnesium is ionized on the anode, and Mg ion formed is recombined with electrons on the cathode to flow electric current through the load connecting the both electrodes. In this process hydrogen atoms settling within the crystals combine with each other to form hydrogen molecule gas from two hydrogen atoms. It is one of characteristic points that the rate of hydrogen gas evolution can be controlled with the electric current through the load. The generation efficiency of this cassette is high (80%), and it is also confirmed that when evolved hydrogen is fed to FC, the efficiency is largely over 50%. The system can be assembled with inexpensive materials, and prospect was obtained to make it small to button size. A foreign company begins to commercialize this hydrogen-supplying system for mobile equipments, while an overseas automobile maker investigates possibility of this technology for downsizing in FCV. [The Chemical Daily May 18, 2007]
9.Sensors and Metrological Technology Related with Hydrogen and FC
Mikuni Corp. developed a hydrogen sensor in collaboration with an associate professor, Yamaguchi, in department of Material Property Engineering of Iwate University. It makes use of the fact that palladium absorbs hydrogen of 935 folds volume, and ceramic membrane containing dispersed fine palladium powder is used. They succeeded in dispersing fine palladium powder of 10 nm size by nano-composite technology. It can detect hydrogen over 0.01% concentration and sends signal 0.5 seconds later. They aim at the price below 10,000 yen in the future. [The Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun (business and technology) May 22, 2007]
10.Development of Micro FC Related Technology
(1) Osaka Civic University
Prof. Wakisaka and his group developed FC of 0.7 g mass. The developed FC is three layer structure consisting of gold plated titanium, carbon dusted with platinum and ruthenium, and polymer electrolyte. These three layers are adhered by heating. The cell is a sheet of 3 cm square and 0.4 mm thickness, and it is flexible like cloths. The power density per 1 g increased up to 1 W. When hydrogen is flowed on the rear side, power is generated by reaction with oxygen. Hydrogen can be supplied with water soaked polymer and calcium powder. Its easy usages are portable power sources for camping etc and for small robots. They anticipate real use after 1 year. Furthermore they intend to develop a scheme of supplying hydrogen from methanol. [The Nikkei Sangyo Shimbun (economy and industry) May 24, 2007]
(2) Nihon Texas Instruments Corp.
On June 5, 2007 the company announced that it began shipping of mass-produced IC for increasing DC voltage, "TPS61200." It can be operated by 0.3 V input, and it is DC/DC converter for increasing voltage of a DC power source. It would be useful for solar cells of low voltage and portable micro FC. [The Nikkei Sangyo Shimbun (economy and industry) and The Dempa Shimbun (radio wave) June 6, 2007]
(1) Eical Energy
This English company is searching Japanese companies as a partner in FC R&D. This company has unique technology of air electrodes of PEFC and DMFC, which does not need noble metal catalyst like platinum, and it has also unique technology of high-temperature and high-power operation using liquid electrolyte. The fuel electrode in a newly developed system (Flow Cath) is not different, but the air electrode is simple and consisting of a gas reactor containing water soluble catalyst and a reservoir only. The usages forecasted are FCV, power sources for personal computers and industrial machines etc. In collaboration with a partner, they aim at real use in 2009 - 10. The company already begins to present business proposition to several Japanese companies, directing its attention to those superior especially in FC real use and advanced technology. [The Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun May 21, 2007 and The Chemical Daily May 23, 2007]
(2) Suzukishokan Co., Ltd.
The company launched service business of evaluating characteristics of FC components. The objects are components, sensors, valves etc. used in FCV, hydrogen stations and so on, and long-term endurance tests including hydrogen enbrittlement will be done. The company established a special evaluation system at a business stronghold in Chubu area and started real operation. [The Chemical Daily May 23, 2007]
------------ This edition is made up as of June 8, 2007. ---------------