THE LATEST FUEL CELL NEWS IN JAPAN, NOVEMBER 2007
`MCFC Demonstration of Its CO2 Recovery Function`

Arranged by T. HOMMA
1.National Policy
2.MCFC Business
3.Development and Application of SOFC
4.Elementary Technologies Development for PEFC and DMFC
5.Demonstration and Business Deployment of PEFC Systems for Home and Business
6.FCV Forefront
7.Demonstration and Business Deployment of PEFC Systems for Home and Business
8.Technology Development of Hydrogen Formation and Purification
9.Technology Development of Hydrogen Transport and Storage
10.Business Activities of Metrological Technology Related with Hydrogen and FC
11.Development of Portable Small-Size FC

1.National Policy
@The Japanese government gathered preliminary estimation of 2008 fiscal year budgets related with achieving targets of the Kyoto protocol to reduce the green house effect gases. Total budget of all related ministries for "directly effective items on promise of 8% reduction in the Kyoto protocol" is 595.6 billion yen and that for "effective items in medium and long term reduction of the green house effect gases" is 340.9 billion yen. The total budget is 1,412.2 billion yen and it is by 20% increased compared with 2007 fiscal year. The main measures in the transportation sector in the former "directly effective items" are as follows. In relation with the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry 2 billion yen for construction of common infrastructure basis aiming at the hydrogen society including FCV, 2 billion yen as subsidiary for promotion of introduction of clean energy automobiles etc. and 1.5 billion yen for demonstration of FC systems etc. In relation with the Ministry of Environment 500 million yen is estimated for subsidiary measures promoting to cope with CO2 exhaustion by automobiles. As measures for energy supply by the Ministry of Agriculture and Fishery 5.4 billion yen is estimated for model demonstration of bio-fuel for local areas, and 4.1 billion yen for technology establishment of utilization of soft cellulose. For demonstration of local area system for real use of eco-fuel 2.5 billion yen is estimated. On the other hand, as measures effective in medium and long term the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry estimates respectively 8.2 billion yen for technology R&D of new energy, 7.1 billion yen for strategic technology development for real use of next generation storage battery system and 7 billion yen for strategic technology development for real use of PEFC. Including the other items total 422.2 billion yen is estimated for "items contributing to the green house effect gas reduction." [The Nikkan Jidosha Shimbun (automobile) Nov. 5, 2007]
2.2. MCFC Business
@On October 19, 2007 Chugoku Electric Power Co., Inc. announced that it started demonstration of 50 kW class MCFC system at Misumi coal power plant, and the MCFC is generating power by using exhausted CO2. The company replaced a 10 kW class small generator and CO2 recovery function was introduced as the first trial among the domestic power plants. The system was manufactured by Ishikawajima-Harima Heavy Industries Co., Ltd. and it has capacity of concentrating and recovering CO2 at the rate of 30 kg/h, and over 70% recovery is anticipated. The trial operation will be made by the end of March of 2008, and the fuel cell performance will be evaluated as well as system reliability and CO2 recovery performance. Although recovered CO2 will be released in ocean or stored underground in the future, it is thrown away in the atmosphere in the trial operation. This is a part of experiments aiming reduction of exhausted CO2, and the experiments are underway for 4 years by 2007 fiscal year together with Chubu Electric Power Co., Inc. The total budget is 1.3 billion yen and subsidiary from the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry was received. The company said "We would contribute to reduction of CO2 exhaustion by developing large-scale system in the future." [The Chugoku Shimbun Oct. 20, 2007, The Denki Shimbun (electricity), The Nikkei Sangyo Shimbun (economy and industry) and The Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun (business and technology) Oct. 22, 2007]

3.Development and Application of SOFC
(1)Kyushu University and TOTO Ltd.
@Prof. Ishihara of Kyushu University and TOTO Ltd. are now developing SOFC as an automobile auxiliary engine (APU) to use as a large-scale power source for hybrid cars and cars fully using electronics. LaGaO3 electrolyte of high oxide ion conductivity developed by Prof. Ishihara et al. is used in this SOFC as high-performance electrolyte thin film for micro-tube cells. The tube is made of nickel base electrode material, and it is 8 mm in diameter and 50 mm in length. Suspended LaGaO3 powder is sintered on the base tube. Liquid fuel to be reformed is flown into the inside of the tube and burned to generate power. By using LaGaO3 downsizing can be realized, while operation at 500oC can be done and start-up for about 5 minutes is possible. However, for using in automobiles robust cells which endure vibration is a remained technical task. [The Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun (business and technology) Oct. 29, 2007]

(2)Hosokawa Micron Corp.
@On Oct. 31, 2007 the company announced that its subsidiary company for research, Hosokawa Powder Technology Research Institute, has succeeded in operation of 1 kW SOFC assembled in trial by the company. Using this SOFC they have succeeded in 48 hour lighting of LED advertisement on a newly built head office building in Hirakata city in the end of October. The operating temperature of this SOFC is 700oC. The material, complex of nickel oxide and YSZ, is controlled by high technique in their fine structure, and the cell structure is also optimized, so that improvement of generating performance and low temperature operation can be realized. The structure of the trial stacks is that 60 sheets of anode-supported single cell plate are piled up. Continuous operation was demonstrated as well as start and stop cycles. The company will think it will develop system of further improved performance, because low temperature operation and real applicability were confirmed, and it is aiming at early real use. [The Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun (business and technology) and The Chemical Daily Nov. 1, 2007]
(3)Meidensha Corp.
@In collaboration with a German company. Siemens, with which the company has tied up in FC development since 2005, the company will commercialize business-use SOFC in 2008 fiscal year. Assumed sites are factories, hospitals, hotels, large-scale commercial facilities and office buildings. The FC system is a large FC used for cogeneration, and the power output is 125 kW and the power efficiency is 44 - 50%. The fuel is town gas, which is converted to hydrogen and CO within the SOFC, and electric power and heat are produced with the FC by introducing air.@Furthermore, hydrogen from outside, such as sewage and sludge treating facilities, can be used. Because it works at high temperature, i.e., 1000oC, exhausted heat is reused to increase the power efficiency. The company stated that large reduction in power rate and CO2 exhaustion can be done. The cell stacks are manufactured by Siemens and Meidensha is in charge of production, installation and maintenance of controllers etc. The price is anticipated several hundredss million yen per 1 set. [The Nikkei Sangyo Shimbun (economy and industry) Nov. 6, 2007]

4.Elementary Technologies Development for PEFC and DMFC
(1)Science Labs. Inc.
@The company in Matsudo city in Chiba prefecture developed new electrolyte membrane for DMFC, and the new membrane is hard to be oxidized and has good endurance, while it can be made from inexpensive materials. To make the membrane, fullerene is connected with sulfuric acid groups and phosphoric acid groups, and mixed with hydrocarbon polymer. Then it is molded to desirable forms. Calcium or platinum is added to become insoluble in water, and cesium is added to prevent the membrane from oxidation. In order to compare with Nafion membrane, this membrane and Nafion were immersed in reagent containing highly oxidative hydrogen peroxide for one night, and the new membrane was not oxidized. The company said "Nafion is expensive, say several tens thousands yen per one square meter, but because the new membrane can be made from common polymer, the price can be less than one over ten." [The Nikkei Sangyo Shimbun (economy and industry) Oct. 20, 2007]

(2)Nagasaki Institute of Applied Science
@Prof. Yamabe (the director of Institute for New Technology Creation), Prof. Okumura (Department of Engineering) and their co-workers developed technology, by which amount of platinum used in FC can be reduced in large scale. Paste containing nano-carbon material is printed on electrodes in polka dots. The printed material is a mixture of platinum and nano-carbon material burned at low temperature, i.e., 600oC. They said that the amount of used platinum could be reduced from 5 - 10 g per 1 kW output to 1.5 - 1 g per kW, so that reduction to 1/10 was realized at its maximum. [The Nikkei Sangyo Shimbun (economy and industry) Oct. 30, 2007]

5.Demonstration and Business Deployment of PEFC Systems for Home and Business
(1)Nippon Oil Corp.
@Nippon Oil Corp. begins to supply 1 kW home-use PEFC of LPG fuel specification to Cosmo Oil Co., Ltd. on OEM contract. This OEM supply is a part of business tie-up signed by the two companies in April of 2007. The first set was installed at a home in Kofu city with Cosmo brand. To Cosmo Oil Co., Ltd. PEFC of kerosene specification will also be supplied, and installation of total 14 sets, i.e., 9 sets of LPG specification and 5 sets of kerosene specification, is scheduled in 2007 fiscal year. Nippon Oil. Corp. intends to make its FC the standard type in oil business sector, and it has policy to tap the market by promoting OEM supply to other companies in tie-up and in cooperation [The Denki Shimbun (electricity), The Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun (business and technology) Oct. 23, 2007, and The Nikkei Sangyo Shimbun Oct. 25, 2007]
@On Nov. 6, 2007 Nippon Oil Corp. announced that it installed PEFC for business at the student cafeteria in Kyushu University. The demonstration was also started. Until September of 2008 the operation will be continued and the data will be gathered for improvement of the system. The system developed in cooperation with Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Ltd. is 10 kW output using kerosene. [The Nikkei Sangyo Shimbun (economy and industry) Nov. 7, 2007]

(2)Nisshinbo Industries, Inc.
@The company is planning to strengthen its FC related business. The company is manufacturing separators of carbon-resin mold, and it became de fact standard in the large-scale demonstration of PEFC. At present 4 million sheets are produced per month with existing facility and the production rate is increased to the twice of the last year. However full production is forecasted in the end of 2008. The company decided to rxpand the production facility in February or March of 2008, and considering future demand new production lines are thought to set up in October. The feature of the separator is superior in molding and high strength (It is twice stronger than conventional carbon-resin mold.) It has both of thinness and flexibility, and they are comparable with metal. It has been accepted in many PEFC under the large-scale demonstration. Furthermore, the company has intension to enter business of catalyst replacing platinum, making full use of its carbon molding technology, nano-fiber technology, fine particle controlling technology etc. At present the company is making collaborative research with Prof. Ozaki of Gumma University, and samples are going to be shipped after one or two years. Early commercialization is also intended after the separator. [The Chemical Daily Oct. 30, 2007]

(3)Osaka Gas Co., Ltd.
@On Oct. 31, 2007 the company completed an energy saving house in residential zone of Saito (Ibaraki city, Osaka prefecture). In the house 1 kW output home-use PEFC cogeneration system is installed in combination with 4.6 kW output photovoltaic system. The recent facilities made by the company, for instance a bath with mist-sauna function, a heating drier, floor heating etc. are also installed. The house was going to be open to public since November 3, 2007. Comparing with the conventional houses using gas and electric power, about 55% reduction could be done in energy consumption and about 70% in CO2 emission. The company said "About 90% of electric energy for a standard family of four can be supplied." [The Sankei Shimbun Nov. 1, 2007, The Dempa Shimbun (radio wave) Nov. 2, 2007, The Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun (business and technology), The Chemical Daily Nov. 5, 2007 and The Denki Shimbun (electricity) Nov. 6, 2007]

6.FCV Forefront
(1)Daimler-Chrysler Japan
@Daimler-Chrysler Japan set forth an FC concept car "Mercedes Benz F600HYGENIUS" in a special plan of "Clean Energy Cars Trial Run" of the 40th Tokyo Motor Show to be open to mass media since October 24. In this FCV, FC able to start in the low ambient temperature of -25oC is installed together with a 700 atmospheric pressure hydrogen cylinder, with which the mileage is extended to 400 km. Visitors can drive it in trial until October 27. The company puts up the target that next generation FCV based on "Mercedes Benz B class" are going to put in the market in 2010. [The Denki Shimbun (electricity) Oct. 24, 2007]

(2)Honda Motor Co., Ltd.,
@Mr. Fukui, the president of Honda Motor Co., Ltd. stated a plan for FCV to be shown in the auto-show in Los Angels in November. The FCV is "FCX Concept" and it is going to be sold in Japan and US since 2008 (limited sales). [The Nikkan Jidosha Shimbun (automobile) Oct. 25, 2007]

7.Technology Development and Business Deployment Related with Hydrogen Stations
@Fujikin Inc. in Osaka city developed valves for control and intercept to be used in hydrogen charger for supplying high-pressure hydrogen to FCV. The pressure to charge is 700 atmospheric pressures. The open and close cycle endurance of the valves is over 150 thousand cycles and they can be used for about 5 years. Hitachi, Ltd. and Tokiko Technology Ltd. (Yokohama city) are going to use them in a hydrogen charger to be applied to real use. By contract with NEDO these three companies are undertaking R&D for real use in 700 atmospheric pressure hydrogen chargers. The valves developed by Fujikin Inc. are valves modified on basis of valves really used in nuclear power plants and thermal power plants. To cope with high pressure the thickness is kept, while decrease in the inner diameter of the valves and compact design by review of the valve structure are realized. Furthermore, for safety, materials for sealing were developed by combining rubber and resin to prevent hydrogen from leakage. As to the size of the valves, the height of the both valves is 300 mm, while the width is 250 mm for the control valves and 150 mm for the intercept valves. They anticipated 5-6 intercept valves and 1-2 control valves per one hydrogen station with multiple hydrogen chargers. [The Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun (business and technology Oct. 24, 2007)]

8.Development of Hydrogen Formation and Purification
(1)Minamiaso Natural Green
@A new company for utilization of biomass named "Minamiaso Natural Green" is making construction plan of facility to produce hydrogen gas from biomass such as thinned-out woods, food residue, livestock sewage etc. in Minamiaso village. The immediate plan is to gather woods and sewages from the village and residue of fruits juice from Kumamoto city to produce 7,200 Nm3 of hydrogen and compost from total 55 tons of bi-mass per day. The total cost is 2.36 billion yen, and subsidiary for "build-up of biomass environment" from the Ministry of Agriculture and Fishery will be paid for the half, 1.18 billion yen [The Kumamoto Nichinichi Shimbun Oct. 17, 2007]

(2)Alcadea
@The above company in Sendai city developed hydrogen formation process in which CO2 does not evolve. In an experiment using 500 mL of solvent, 2 g of aluminum foil was thrown into the solvent and hydrogen evolves. Hydrogen evolved from 1 g of aluminum foil was 1.24 L with aluminum oxide precipitate. The solvent is made by special treatment of water and it is produced inexpensively; the company stated the solvent can be sold at the price of 60-100 \/L. Prof. Miura in graduate course of chemical engineering of Tohoku University is cooperating with the company, and he said "The process is very simple and the cost is low. It is a mild process and it does not need electric power. CO2 does not evolve. It is very unique." [The Dempa Shimbun (radio wave) Oct. 30, 2007]

(3)Tonami Transportation Co., Ltd.
@Tonami Transportation Co., Ltd. (Takaoka city), Toyama Prefectural Industrial Technology Center and TetraPak Japan (Tokyo) made patent application of producing hydrogen from aluminum in aluminum laminated paper pack to use in FC. It became possible to recover aluminum from aluminum laminated waste and to recycle it. By making a cartridge type hydrogen forming equipment, it could be installed in automobile and hydrogen energy could be obtained safely. They are planning construction of a mini-plant in 2008 fiscal year and demonstration after 3 years. [The Toyama Shimbun Nov. 2, 2007]

(4)Toda Kogyo Corp.
@The company has intension to promote development of nickel base water vapor reforming catalyst. It is making cooperative R&D with Western Hiroshima Prefecture Industrial Research@Institute etc. Although nickel is inexpensive compared with noble metal of ruthenium, it tends to be sintered and it is hard to make it in micro-fine size. Using technology developed in its iron oxide business, the company succeeded in making nano-size micro-fine nickel (2-10 nm) by making full use of wet reaction technology. At the same time it also succeeded in preventing the catalyst from degradation and improving endurance, by applying its unique carrier structure. More than 20 thousands hour continuous endurance test was passed and it is now continuing. By changing carrier composition improvement in endurance against sulfur poisoning and anti carbon deposit was achieved. The company is now planning mass production of several hundreds kg per month in the end of 2008 fiscal year, aiming at mass production in 2012. [The Chemical Daily Nov. 5, 2007]

9. Development of Hydrogen Storage and Transport Technology
(1)Kawasaki Heavy Industries, Ltd.
@The company delivered its liquid hydrogen container to Iwatani International Corp. Its storage capacity is the maximum grade in standard. The maximum capacity is 2,617 kg, and storage efficiency was tried to be large by fully utilizing space. To cope with situation that liquid hydrogen must be transferred to another hydrogen storage facility without a compressor, a compressor by evaporation is attached to the container. [The Kobe Shimbun Oct. 17, 2007 and The Nikkei Sangyo Shimbun (economy and industry) Oct. 23, 2007]

(2)Nippon Oil Corp. and Hitachi, Ltd
@The above two companies developed technology by which a reactor to produce hydrogen from organic hydride can be downsized to an extent that it can be installed in FCV. Nippon Oil Corp. developed catalyst, and Hitachi, Ltd. made plate type basic units by developing main components. The structure of the unit is that organic hydride flows into a gap of the plates and, by heating, hydrogen flows out of the other end of gap. In the reactor this basic units are arranged in parallel. Chlorine is not contained in the catalyst and it is one of features that degradation hardly occurs. The heat to decompose organic hydride is supplied from combustion heat of organic hydride in the engine and exhausted heat from FC. Hydrogen flow of about 30 m3/h is necessary to drive FCV, and a 25 L size reactor can provide it, so that it can be installed in automobiles. Because organic hydride is liquid and easy to be handled, tank lorries and other conventional facilities for gasoline can be utilized. Thus comparing with hydrogen gas scheme, organic hydride has an advantage that cost for infrastructure is low. [The Nihon Keizai Shimbun Oct. 26, 2007]

(3)Maruhachi Co.
@The company in Sakai city, Fukui prefecture developed hydrogen cylinders for FCV using carbon fibers, and it is going to start their sales since March of 2008 as scheduled. Applying technology of oxygen cylinders for medical use, the endurable pressure is 1,750 kgwt/cm2. The capacity is 30 L, and about 1 kg of hydrogen can be stored. The development was made in cooperation with Tokyo University, Osaka University, Tokyo Metropolitan University etc. The company completed data gathering of endurance such as drop test. [The Nikkei Sangyo Shimbun Nov. 5, 2007]

10.Business Activity of Metrological Technology Related with Hydrogen and FC
@On November 2, 2007 Kikusui Electronics Corp., Ltd. held "FC Electrical Measurement Technology Seminar" in collaboration with a Chinese University, Tsing-hua University. About 100 persons participated the seminar including FC specialists, professors and students from Peking University, Beijing University of Chemical Technology, FC National Engineering Research Center etc. [The Dempa Shimbun (radio wave) Nov. 7, 2007]

11.Development of Portable Small-Size FC
@When PEFC repeats start and stop, bonds between platinum and carbon are dissociated and platinum is dissolved into electrolyte to form precipitates, which block migration of hydrogen ions to cause decrease in output power. Hitachi Maxell, Ltd. devised electrodes to prevent platinum catalyst from dissolving into electrolyte, and degradation of electrolyte is prevented. Thus the company developed technology to extend life twice compared with conventional ones, and a devise to remove platinum becomes unnecessary. Describing it in detail, a particular organic substance is added in cathodes to capture platinum using oxygen from the organic substance, and dissolved platinum is retained successfully. Repeating start and stop more than 5,000 cycles as accelerated test, the new type electrode containing the organic substance maintains about 90% output power, while output of conventional electrodes decreases to less than 50%. Generally addition of organic substances decreases conductivity of electrodes, but the output power could be kept by organic substance of optimum composition. Keeping the size, over 4,000 hour operation is possible, and it would contribute to real use of portable small-size FC. This technology is for PEFC using solid polymer electrolyte. Applying this new technology, the company intends to develop portable power sources using hydrogen fuel from reaction of aluminum and water, and it is planning commercialization in 2010. [The Nikkei Sangyo Shimbun Nov. 8, 2007]


------------ This edition is made up a of November 8, 2007 ---------------