THE LATEST FUEL CELL NEWS IN JAPAN, September 2007
〜FCV and Hydrogen Car Caravan thru Japan from South to North 〜

Arranged by T. HOMMA
1.National Policies
2.Policies by Local Governments
3.R&D and Demonstration Results of SOFC
4.Elementary Technologies Development for PEFC and DMFC
5.FCV Forefront
6.Operation of Hydrogen Station
7.Technology Development for Hydrogen Formation and Purification
8.Development and Business Deployment for Hydrogen Storage and Transport Equipments
9.Development of New Type FC Like Bio-cells
10.Development and Business Deployment of Metrological Equipments Related with FC and Hydrogen

1.National Policies
(1) Energy conservation measures in architectures
 As measures for fundamental enhancement of energy conservation in architectures, Ministry of Land, Transport and Infrastructure adopted new institution for subsidizing partly the construction cost in order to propagate newly built architectures, in which advanced facilities for apartment houses are introduced, for instances FC, solar electric and thermal utilization, batteries etc. The new institution will start since 2008 fiscal year. In addition to this the ministry is considering other measures, for instance low interest rate financing to houses remodeled for energy conservation. In cooperation with Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry the ministry is also considering possibility of expansion of reporting duty by energy conservation law to smaller architectures. [The Denki Shimbun (electricity) Aug. 15, 2007]

(2) Development of advanced energy technology
 On Aug. 15, 2008 Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry published that the ministry would give priority to advanced energy technology relating to reduction in greenhouse gas emission in order to achieve the governmental goal that the worldwide gas emission should be decreased to half by 2050. The ministry is going to collaborate with universities and private companies in technology development, for instances, solar photovoltaic generation competitive in cost with conventional thermal generation, technology to capture CO2 from conventional thermal plants and steel producing factories and to bury it in the earth, small and medium size nuclear reactors applicable to developing countries, and cost reduction in hydrogen fueled FCV. Total about 83.8 billion yen is going to be claimed in addition to conventional technology development. Detail will be discussed in a learned persons meeting to be established in the end of August. The meeting would be chaired by Dr. Yoshikawa, Director of National Research Institute for Advanced Industrial Science and Technology. The program draft is going to be completed in this fiscal year. [The Nihon Keizai Shimbun Aug. 15, 2007, The Sankei Shimbun, The Denki Shimbun (electricity), The Tokyo Shimbun, The Chunichi Shimbun, The Chugoku Shimbun, The Nihon Nogyo Shimbun (agriculture), The Fuji Sankei Business Eye, The Chemical Daily Aug. 16, 2007, The Nikkei Sangyo Shimbun (economy and industry) Aug. 20, 2007 and The Hokkaido Shimbun Aug. 25, 2007]
 The first meeting of learned persons was held in Tokyo, and it is a private consultative organization of the Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry for "cool earth innovative technology program." The Minister, Mr. Amari said in his address, "Japan would become a worldwide leader in energy technology." Aiming at the governmental goal of half reduction of green house effect gasses by 2050, drawing the process maps up to 2030 and international collaboration will be examined in the meetings. By three meetings till March of 2008 comments will be integrated and the program is going to be proposed at the summit on Toya lake, Hokkaido in July. In the first meeting comments on propagation measures of developed technologies and protection of intellectual rights were presented. [The Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun (business and technology) Sept. 3, 2007]

(3) Claim for 2008 fiscal year budget by Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry
 The ministry (METI) set forth its estimated budget related with resources and energy for 2008 fiscal year (FY) on Aug. 24, 2007. The whole special account for energy measures, including those of the Ministry of Education, Science, Culture and Sports and the Ministry of Environment, amounts to 1,023.3 billion yen, which claim is by 8.3% increase than that in 2007 FY, and that for METI is 824.1 billion yen (8.1% increase). In this figure account for power source development (METI) is 252.3 billion yen (11.2% increase), and account for energy demand and supply is 571.9 billion yen (6.8% increase). Agency of Natural Resources and Energy made budget claim concentrated in global warming and stabilized supply of resources and energy.
 To promote measures against global warming a new budget item of 2 billion yen was claimed for establishment of international strongholds of innovative solar cells as an item in the budget for realization of "Beautiful Star 50." Others are innovative zero emission coal burning power generation (4.8 billion yen and 2.8 billion yen increase), real commercialization of PEFC (7.0 billion yen and 1.9 billion yen increase), and advanced nuclear reactor development (7.5 billion yen and 3.9 billion yen increase).
 In new energy related field 12.5 billion yen (4.9 billion yen increase) was claimed for technology development and introduction promotion of electric energy storage systems to propagate EV etc. [The Denki Shimbun (electricity), The Kensetsu Tsushin Shimbun (construction) and The Chemical Daily Aug. 27, 2007]

(4) Undertakers of new energy technology development
 NEDO decided undertakers of new energy technology R&D for making full use of technologies owned by venture companies etc. Selected undertakers are 22, i.e., 4 including Tokyo University of Agriculture and Technology in photovoltaic power generation, 10 including Alcohol Association in bio-mass field, 4 including "development of aluminum nano-particles for water molecule decomposition - hydrogen production" by Hydrodevice Co. in FC/battery field and 4 including National Research Institute for Advanced Industrial Science and Technology in field of windmill generation and other miscellaneous unused energy utilization. [The Nikkei Sangyo Shimbun (economy and industry) Aug. 30, 2007, The Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun (business and technology) Aug. 31, 2007 and The Denki Shimbun (electricity) Sept.12, 2007]

2.Policies by Local Governments
(1) Chiba Prefecture
 Chiba Prefecture newly established an institution for incubating small and medium size enterprises which are making technological research of new technology and new products for real use of new energy like solar photo energy, FC, bio-mass etc. Applications are now being received. The aims are incubation of new energy related enterprises and industrial promotion. The objectives are small and medium size enterprises making business within the prefecture, but when R&D made in collaboration with large enterprise and/or university in the prefecture, the application is received. The subsidiaries will be maximum 3 million yen when the R&D is done by a single enterprise, and it will be maximum 5 million yen for multiple enterprises cooperation or collaboration with university. For the first fiscal year the total budget is 8 million yen and 2 or 3 items will be selected. [The Chemical Daily Sept. 10, 2007]

(2) Aomori Prefecture
 Aomori Prefecture receives application to subsidiary for environmental and energy technology development for 2007 fiscal year. The objectives are small and medium size enterprises whose works and/or offices are in the prefecture, and subsidiary would be given for technology development of regenerated energy, FC or energy conservation. The technology development shall be made in collaboration with public research institutes, universities or national colleges in the prefecture, and the results should bring us utilization of unused energy or reuse of reusable energy, while collaboration among different businesses is expected. [The Kensetsu Tsushin Shimbun (construction) Sept. 12, 2007]

3.R&D and Demonstration Results of SOFC
 Kansai Electric Power Co., Ltd. made demonstration of cogeneration system with town gas fueled 10 kW output SOFC, which have been developed in cooperation with Mitsubishi Materials Corp., and achieved 41% electric power efficiency (HHV at AC output) and 82% overall efficiency (HHV). SOFC modules operated below 800oC and developed in 2005 was the base of this system, and a newly developed inverter, a newly improved heat recovering equipment etc. were combined to form cogeneration system. By reduction in energy loss in auxiliary components, the goal was achieved. The long-term endurance is also under testing with the goal of continuous over 3,000 hour operation, and it is now over 1,700 accumulated hours (as of Aug. 6, 2007), stable operation being continued. [The Denki Shimbun (electricity) Aug. 13, 2007]

4.Elementary Technologies Development for PEFC and DMFC
(1) Ishizeki Precision Co., Ltd.
 The company in Takasaki city, a company specified in high-precision press, is developing mass production technology to make separators for PEFC by press. If press could be applied, large cost-down would be realized. The company is now studying press technology of stainless steel sheet, and if it is succeeded, the cost would be 100 - 200 yen/sheet. In this fiscal year the precision in the press is being improved, so that complicated shape channels for hydrogen and oxygen could be made by press, and they are also studying to control deformation of the sheet by impact at the press. They anticipate the technology would be completed in this fiscal year, aiming at acceptance of orders for trial products by makers. [The Jomo Shimbun Aug. 18, 2007]

(2) Tokyo Metropolitan University
 Prof. Kanemura and his group in the above university have succeeded in making electrode catalyst layer by electrophoresis. It is a method in which colloidal catalyst particles dispersed in solvent are deposited on electrolyte membranes by electric field. Thickness and composition of the catalyst layer can be controlled by changing electrophoresis conditions and composition. The electro-catalyst layers of high uniformity in the porosity can be made compared with electrode made by conventional hot press. By experiment using MEA made by this method, more than twice maximum electric current was observed in comparison with those by hot press. For making this MEA, nafion membrane was sandwiched in the central part of an electrophoresis cell and electrophoresis was made by direct current power source. In the solution for the anode side platinum loaded carbon was dispersed in perchloric acid aqueous solution. The thus made electrodes were observed with an electron-microscope, and it was confirmed that catalyst layers of very high uniformity were observed. [The Chemical Daily Sept. 11, 2007]

(3) Asahi Kasei Chemicals Co. Ltd.
 By chemical technology the company developed fluorocarbon polymer membrane, whose mechanical strength is three times higher than conventional one. Under circumstances of various loads like repeated start and stop at operating temperature of 80oC and low humidity of 20 - 30%, 5,000 hour continuous operation was achieved. They aim at real use of high-endurance membrane about 2012, and it would bring large reduction in the cost for home use PEFC. In the acceleration test any problems happen like hole formation. Hereafter they will make research for development of non-reinforced fluorocarbon membrane having 40,000 hour endurance at 80oC. [The Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun (business and technology) Sept. 14, 2007]

5.FCV Forefront
(1) Frain Energy Co, Ltd.
 On Aug. 30, 2007 the above company in Sapporo city announced that they developed an onboard equipment releasing hydrogen from organic hydride and they succeeded in demonstration run by a cart. It was made in collaboration with Prof. Emeritus Ichikawa et al. Half and half ratio of hydrogen and gasoline was supplied to the engine. Fuel consumption was 50% improved at the maximum, and reduction in CO2 emission was realized. Exhausted gas from the engine was used for heat needed in hydrogen release from organic hydride, so that high energy efficiency was achieved. They assembled a trial cart on which they installed "onboard type" of downsized dehydrogenation reactor. This cart was assembled in cooperation with Futaba Industry Co., Ltd. and Ito Racing Service Co., Ltd. The reactor is made of aluminum and the size is 45 cm high and about 15 cm in diameter. By using engine exhaust gas the reactor is heated over 300oC and hydrogen is released by platinum catalyst from organic hydride. Running test of a small automobile is scheduled within this year. [The Nihon Keizai Shimbun, The Denki Shimbun (electricity), The Nikkei Sangyo Shimbun (economy and industry) and The Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun (business and technology) Aug. 31, 2007]

(2) Samtech Corp.
 This automobile components maker specified in forging and located in Osaka prefecture developed a hydrogen tank, whose storage capacity was improved by 1.5 times, and in this tank of 40.8 L capacity 1.5 kg hydrogen can be stored. The key point of high storage density is that it is a hybrid and hydrogen storage alloy is combined with a high-pressure tank of 350 atmospheric pressures. The tank is made of aluminum, so that welding cannot be applied. They adopted machining cylinder of 1 cm thickness. Hybrid storage was first proposed by Toyota Motors Corp. and they adopted a method of tightly jointing two tank parts with a ring, while Samtech Corp. states that non-jointed type is superior in endurance. Samtech Corp. began tank manufacturing to cultivate a new field, and the company established a machining company in US in 1996. Their products were used in rockets and artificial satellite by NASA. Together with Japan Metals and Chemicals Co., Ltd. and JARI, the company joined in a national project, and they intend to complete safety test of a hybrid type tank by the next spring. [The Nihon Keizai Shimbun Aug. 31, 2007]

(3) Iwatani International Corp.
 The company in Osaka city started caravan on Sept. 20, 2007. This hydrogen energy caravan is consisted of 3 cars, i.e., 2 FCV and 1 hydrogen car, with a trailer for fuel supply. They started at Tanegashima Space Center in Kagoshima prefecture and will arrive at Wakkanai city in Hokkaido prefecture. They run total about 4,500 km for 33 days. An event will be held at Sakai city in Osaka prefecture. In addition to this, at 30 sites including school they will sponsor "Hydrogen Science Course." [The Yomiuri Shimbun, The Hokkaido Shimbun, The Fuji Sankei Business Eye, The Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun (business and technology) Sept. 8, 2007, The Chemical Daily Sept. 10, 2007, The Nikkan Jidosha Shimbun (automobile) Sept. 11, 2007, The Chugoku Shimbun Sept. 12, 2007 and The Sankei Shimbun Sept. 14, 2007]

6. Operation of Hydrogen Station
 On Aug. 21, 2007 Osaka Gas Co., Ltd. published that the company would begin operation of "JHFC Osaka Hydrogen Station" since Aug. 23, 2007. The station supplies hydrogen to FCV etc. and it is at a site owned by Osaka prefecture in Chuo Ward of Osaka city and located at the north of Osaka Prefecture Police Headquarter. The company constructed the hydrogen station of 1,000 square meters. Town gas supplied with a pipeline is converted with a reformer developed by the company, and evolved hydrogen at 30 m3/h is stored at the site. The constructing expense of about 300 million yen was charged to Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry. Continuous charging is possible simultaneously to 4 cars. Osaka Gas Co., Ltd. intends to operate the station by 2010. Hydrogen will also be supplied to other type hydrogen fueled vehicles, like wheelchairs and carts, beside FCV, and data on the demonstration will be gathered. [The Yomiuri Shimbun, The Sankei Shimbun, The Nihon Keizai Shimbun, The Nikkei Sangyo Shimbun (economy and industry), The Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun (business and technology) Aug. 22, 2007, The Sankei Shimbun Aug. 23, 2007, The Mainichi Shimbun, The Denki Shimbun (electricity) Aug. 24, 2007, and The Nikkan Jidosha Shimbun (automobile) Sept. 4, 2007]
 In the national "FC introduction scenario" Kansai district is charged in exploration and demonstration of multipurpose utilization. The utilization range is much more wide than that of the capital area, which is charged mainly in demonstration of FCV. Including cogeneration, wide range utilization in usual life, such as welfare, environment, thermoelectric source etc. will be examined. These facts are interesting to note. [The Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun (business and technology) Sept. 4, 2007]

7. Technology Development for Hydrogen Formation and Purification
(1) Sharp Corp. and Research Institute of Innovative Technology for the Earth (RITE)
 In collaboration with RITE, Sharp Corp. succeeded in research of hydrogen formation from mixed saccharides (glucose) produced from cellulose bio-mass. The yield was half of theoretical yield (4 mole of hydrogen / mole of saccharides.) The rate of hydrogen formation was confirmed and it was 20 L/h with 200 g of bacteria (colon bacillus) in a reactor of 1 L capacity. The colon bacillus used in this research is a bacteria originally created by gene manipulating technology. Saccharides was poured into the reactor containing the bacteria and hydrogen was formed at the above rate. Hereafter research will be done to increase the yield, while long continuous operation will also be tried aiming at real production of bio-mass hydrogen. [The Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun (business and technology) Aug. 14, 2007]

(2) Tohoku University etc.
 A research group of Prof. Ishida, a professor in graduate school of Tohoku University, Dr. Takahisa of Organization for Promotion of Science and Technology etc. set forth on Sept. 6, 2007 that they developed aluminum alloy, which forms hydrogen by pouring water. The research group added inexpensive element to aluminum and made its crystals of uniform size of several micron m by heat treatment. When the alloy is reacted with water, hydrogen is formed and aluminum is oxidized to aluminum hydroxide. It is a characteristic point that the reaction proceeds at a relatively high rate even at the room temperature, and 1 L hydrogen was formed from 1 g aluminum. It seems that by controlling crystalline texture influence of surface aluminum oxide film, which prohibits the reaction, is suppressed. Hydrogen can be formed at low cost. [The Kahoku Shimbun Sept. 7, 2007 and The Asahi Shimbun Sept. 14, 2007]

(3) Waseda University
 Prof. Kikuchi, Prof. Matsukata et al. in Waseda University discovered active catalyst for accelerating shift reaction of CO and water vapor to form hydrogen, and it does not need pre-treatment. It retards poisonous effect of CO to platinum catalyst and brings high hydrogen formation ratio. It is perovskite type oxide and it is a catalyst of platinum and palladium loaded lanthanum cobalt oxide. The catalyst contains 1% platinum and 0.5% palladium. Perovskite oxides have high oxide ion conductivity and a property of easily releasing lattice oxygen, which seems to enhance oxidation-reduction reaction. Platinum and palladium are added to activate the reaction at low temperature. By using this catalyst the shift reaction was made. Higher CO conversion efficiency was obtained than conventional catalyst in experiments, while the activity was stable. Activity was almost not observed for the perovskite without platinum and palladium, and platinum or palladium on silicon shows no activity, so that it can be concluded that high activity is brought us by synergy effect of these three components. [The Chemical Daily Sept. 14, 2007]

(4) Tokyo Institute of Technology
 Prof. Watanabe, an associate professor of Tokyo Institute of Technology, developed a small equipment for efficiently producing hydrogen from low concentration alcohol, like beer. From 1 can of beer (350 cc) enough hydrogen for FCV to run about 2 km is obtained. By heating alcohol at high temperature by direct current discharge, alcohol decomposes to atomic level, e.g., hydrogen, carbon and oxygen, and by cooling it and separating hydrogen gas from it, hydrogen can be obtained. The cost is relatively high, but it is an advantage that low purity alcohol unnecessary in alcohol related factories can be used, Prof. Watanabe said. [The Nikkei Sangyo Shimbun (economy and industry) Sept. 14, 2007]

8.Development and Business Deployment of Hydrogen Storage and Transport Equipments
 Chugoku Kogyo Co., Ltd. will advance to business of hydrogen fuel tanks for automobiles in earliest case in March of 2009. The company is now developing super-high-pressure hydrogen tanks in collaboration with Prof. Okamoto of Hiroshima University, and the company aims at sales for FCV and cars with hydrogen RE engines. The tank under development is made as follows; the inner container of cocoon shape is made by molding of plastics as a unit and then epoxide resin impregnated carbon fiber reinforced plastics (CFRP) is wounded on the inner container. It is light-weight but its strength is as high as those of aluminum and stainless steel. Structure of the inner container is multiple layers of specific resin, so that hydrogen leakage is little. The future tasks are to secure the strength of hemispherical parts by changing CFRP wounding and to develop mouthpiece structure of less hydrogen leakage. [The Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun (business and technology) Sept. 12, 2007]

9. Development of New Types FC like Bio-cells
 On Aug. 21, 2007 Sony Corp. announced that the company developed bio-electochemical cells, which generate electric power using glucose as energy source. They do not emit greenhouse effect gases like CO2. When 4 cells were connected in series and 7 cc of glucose is charged to each cell, portable music player, "Walkman" worked for several hours. In principle glucose is decomposed by varieties of enzymes to generate electric power. When glucose is decomposed, electrons and hydrogen ions are generated on the negative electrode. Hydrogen ions migrate to the positive electrode through a separator (insulating sheet), and on the positive electrode hydrogen ions form water by reaction with oxygen in air. Small amount of water formed is evaporated to air, and others are absorbed in the positive electrode of porous carbon. The generated power of this cell is 50 mW per cell. They intend to improve the generating performance and endurance. [The Sankei Shimbun, The Nikkei Sangyo Shimbun (economy and industry) and The Fuji Sankei Business Eye Aug 24, 2007]

10. Development and Business Deployment of Metrological Systems Related with FC and Hydrogen
(1) Okazaki Manufacturing Co.
 This company in Kobe city is making worldwide finest thermocouple of 1 mm diameter as a standard product, and the company newly developed ultra-fine thermocouple of 12.7 micron m in diameter. The company is now accepting orders. It is for temperature measurement in electrolyte membrane of PEFC cells. It is finer than gap in the electrolyte membrane (several tens micron m). Several tens sets are now being produced, and the price is anticipated to be about 100,000 yen per set. Two different wires are connected at the center and the junction is set at the point where the temperature is to be measured. The two different wires are extended to the opposite directions. The junction and the part of the wires attached to the electrolyte are coated with polyimide, and they become endurable against high temperature and generated voltage during operation of FC. The maximum endurable temperature is 200oC. Breakdown often occurs during polyimide coating, so that mass production is relatively hard. [The Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun (business and technology) Aug. 22, 2007]

(2) New Cosmos Electronic Co., Ltd.
 The company developed an analytical apparatus of reformed gas for FC ("XG-100HC"), and its sales will begin since October of this year. The price is 2,205,000 yen including tax but not including a personalcomputer, and the company forecasts annual 50 set sales. In this new product a unique metal oxide semiconductor sensor is used, which is ultra-highly sensitive with high selectivity to gases, and CO in reformed gas can be measured up to 2 ppm with high precision. The apparatus is portable. The time needed for measurement is 15 min, and the measurement can be done only by injecting the sample gas of 10 mL into the apparatus. The results are analyzed by a specific software, and confirmation and storage of the data can be done at the site. [The Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun (business and technology) and The Dempa Shimbun (radio wave) Aug. 27, 2007]


------------ This edition is made up as of September 14, 2007. ---------------