(1)Purchase Record of Environment Conscious Goods
@Ministry of Environment investigated purchase of environment conscious goods defined in so-called green purchase law and recently completed purchase truck record of environment conscious goods by the government and independent agencies in 2006 fiscal year. For goods of over 90% green purchase ratio, the ratio in 2006 fiscal year increased by one point to 94.2%. Remarkable ones are ratio increase of low-emission cars and promoted introduction of solar cells. Large increase in the purchase ratio from the previous fiscal year are found in low emission cars other than general purpose official cars (from 54.0% to 85.7%) and so on. Total capacity of solar cells became twice of the previous year to 417 kW, and that of newly installed FC is 4.5 times increased to 9 kW. [The Denki Shimbun (electricity) Nov. 21, 2007]
(2)Half Reduction of Greenhouse Effect Gases
@Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry published on Nov. 27, 2007 outline of draft of "Advanced Energy Technology Program" describing 20 technological themes for accomplishing half reduction of worldwide greenhouse effect gases emission by 2050. In the 20 themes FCV, CCS, plug-in hybrid cars, EV, solar cells of 4 times higher power efficiency etc. are listed up. [The Nihon Keizai Shimbun Nov. 27, 2007, The Mainichi Shimbun, The Nikkei Sangyo Shimbun (economy and industry), The Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun (business and technology) and The Chemical Daily Nov. 28, 2007]
2.PAFC Business Deployment
@Fuji Electric Systems Co., Ltd. set forth its policy of large reduction in sales price of 100 kW PAFC systems. It will supply the system including piping etc. at the half price. At present Fuji Electric Advanced Technology Co., Ltd.. is selling the 100 kW PAFC, and its sales were started in 1998 and till now over 20 sets were delivered. In 2006 it began sales of a new model "FP-100" whose cell life was increased to 7.5 years, while its reformer was modified. Market research started in this spring for enhancing price-competitiveness. If the production line were in a factory, it could sell this system soon, the company said. It is one of the features of this system that for fuel it can utilize town gas, LPG, digested gas from sewage and by-product gases in a chemical plant, and the company estimated annual sales of 20 - 30 sets after the production line is completed. At present such a line is not completed and production facilities should be made, but the company does not state clearly the time for that. Early completion is requested. Hereafter Fuji Electric Systems Co., Ltd. will sell the systems. [The Denki Shimbun (electricity) Nov. 22,, 2007]
@Toho Gas Co., Ltd. developed SOFC cells of low-temperature operation and long endurance. Composition of scandium in the electrolyte materials was increased by 2.5 times, so that the ion conductivity increased. Thus the operating temperature was decreased to 750oC from the conventional 800oC, while the power generation efficiency was kept. By decrease in the operating temperature, range of materials selection became wide and it contribute to cost reduction. In intermediate layer between the electrolyte and electrodes cerium oxide was sprayed and then sintered. By this treatment aging is suppressed, and the aging rate is improved from the conventional rate of 3% per 1000 hours to 0.25% per 1000 hours. The company intends to sell the components to other companies developing SOFC systems to promote the system development of low price and short start-up time. [The Nikkei Sangyo Shimbun (economy and industry) Nov. 26, 2006]
4.Elementary Technologies Development for PEFC
(1)Nakajimakinzoku Co., Ltd.
@The above company in Kyoto city developed platinum electro-plating technology, by which used platinum catalyst in the electrodes can be reduced to about 1/100 in comparison with conventional ones and anti-corrosion characteristics is also improved. By reducing gaps among the platinum particles the electrodes are protected from corrosion by the liquid electrolyte. Changing electric current, liquid temperature, concentration etc. in the electro-plating process by about 10 steps, diameter of the platinum particles changes to 2 nm (1/5 of conventional particles) and particles of ellipsoidal shape or those with acute angles are formed. By piling up smaller particles of different shapes, the gaps among the particles are decreased to increase anti-corrosion characteristics, so that it contributes to the cost reduction. [The Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun (business and technology) Nov. 10, 2007]
(2)RIKEN (Institute of Physical and Chemical Research)
@RIKEN recognized Nano-Membrane (Tokyo prefecture) as a RIKEN venture, which is established as a venture carrying out development of membrane for FC. This company was established in September of 2007, and the new venture is based on nano-membrane technology of high functionality developed by topo-chemical design research team in RIKEN time and space functional materials research group. The research group has accomplished technology development, for instance huge nano-membrane, using various materials based on fundamental research results of organic and inorganic thin films. [The Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun (business and technology) Nov. 13, 2007]
(3)Taiyo Kagaku Co., Ltd.
@The above company, a producer of foodstuff and chemicals, has developed mass production technology of silica membrane "meso-porous silica" in which 1.5 - 7 nm diameter ultramicro-pores are regularly arranged and pore size can be controlled by 0.1 nm scale. The company developed this technology applying their know-how of interfacial control of food emulsifier. First, micells of interfacial active reagents are formed in water whose pH is controlled by adding silicate salts, and then, applying static electric field, silicate migrates to interfacial active reagent and honeycomb structure of 1 nm thickness is formed of silica molecular membrane. Sintering this and removing interfacial active reagent, the membrane is formed. When platinum ion containing solution was soaked into pores of the meso-porous silica, high catalytic activity was observed even in the temperature range from 25 to 50oC with small amount of platinum and the activity was as high as conventional one. Performance of platinum catalytic activity is highly enhanced and it would be useful in FC. Photosynthesis was also possible. The company is going to sell it as multi-functional materials. [The Nikkei Sangyo Shimbun (economy and industry) Nov. 14, 2007]
5.Demonstration and Business Deployment of Home Use PEFC
(1)Nippon Oil Corp.
@On November 15, 2007 the company held a FC forum "2007 Fiscal Year Special Open Seminar" in Suita city of Osaka prefecture as one of serial activities for real sales of FC. In cooperation with Osaka Gas Co., Ltd., lectures were planned together with tour to a museum DILIPA of Osaka Gas Co., Ltd., to see recent energy systems. [The Denki Shimbun (electricity) Nov. 13, 2007]
@Nippon Oil Corp. reached to an agreement with Sanyo Electric Co., Ltd. that it practically purchases home use FC business unit of Sanyo Electric Co., Ltd., which abandoned independent business deployment because the investment for mass production lines seems burden for the company. In April of 2008 Sanyo Electric Co., Ltd. will separate the unit and Nippon Oil Corp. will invest 81% of capital to gain the initiative. The capital of the separated and newly established company is 500 million yen and ratios of investments are 81% by Nippon Oil Corp. and 19% by Sanyo Electric Co., Ltd. The president will be dispatched from Nippon Oil Corp. The two companies will concentrate their FC related sections at the new company as the nucleus to make unified organization from development through production to sales. Nippon Oil Corp. has been developing LPG fueled FC systems with Sanyo Electric Co. Ltd. and kerosene fueled systems with Ebara Corp., and it began to lease FC to general homes. [The Yomiuri Shimbun, The Mainichi Shimbun, The Nihon Keizai Shimbun, The Sankei Shimbun Nov. 15, 2007, The Asahi Shimbun, The Sankei Shimbun, The Nihon Keizai Shimbun, The Nikkei Sangyo Shimbun (economy and industry), The Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun (business and technology), The Tokyo Shimbun, The Chunichi Shimbun, The Chugoku Shimbun, The Dempa Shimbun (radio wave), The Fuji Sankei Business Eye and The Kahoku Shimpo Nov. 16, 2007]
@On Nov. 29, 2007 Nippon Oil Corp. officially announced that it is going to establish a joint venture of home use FC business in April of 2008. The new company is going to make planning and design of the systems, and Sanyo Electric Co., Ltd is going to manufacture them in its Tokyo factory. The products will be sold by Nippon Oil Corp., "Eneos" being the brand name. Since 2012 fiscal year home use systems are going to be sold, and the price would be reduced to below 500,000 yen by 2015 fiscal year from the present price of 3.5 million yen with intension of propagation among general homes. [The Yomiuri Shimbun, The Asahi Shimbun, The Mainchi Shimbun, The Sankei Shimbun, The Nihon Keizai Shimbun, The Denki Shimbun (electricity), The Nikkei Sangyo Shimbun (economy and industry), The Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun (business and technology), The Dempa Shimbun (radio wave), The Chunichi Shimbun, The Fuji Sankei Business Eye, The Chemical Daily, The Kahoku Shimpo Nov. 30, 2007 and The Nikkan Jidosha Shimbun (automobile) Dec. 5, 2007]
@On Nov. 26, 2007 Nippon Oil Corp. announced that it is going to install LP gas specification home use PEFC at 22 homes in a residential complex "Yumegaoka Danchi" of Imabari city and demonstration will be done. Among 102 homes in the complex 55 homes were selected because of much gas consumption and 22 homes agreed to install them. The contract fee per each home is annually 60,000 yen, and LP gas will be supplied by Koa Gas Ehime Co., Ltd. [The Ehime Shimbun Nov. 27, 2007 and The Denki Shimbun (electricity) Nov. 28, 2007]
(2)Matsushita Electric Industrial Co., Ltd.
@The company is going to construct a factory for mass production of home use PEFC in Kusatsu city of Siga prefecture, and the factory will work in 2008 fiscal year. Initially 1000 - 2000 sets will be produced annually and the scales will be increased to 10,000 sets annually in 2010 by stepwise increments. Initial investment for the facility seems about 1 - 2 billion yen. The endurance was assured by long operation, while the government is now considering subsidiary. The company concluded real sales would be possible, considering these facts. The systems using town gas would be sold through Tokyo Gas Co., Ltd., the company intends. [The Nihon Keizai Shimbun, The Sankei Shimbun, The Kahoku Shimpo Nov. 27, 2007 and The Fuji Sankei Business Eye Nov. 28, 2007]
@Ebara Corp. has an intention that by enlarging facilities in Fujisawa factory in Kanagawa prefecture FC systems for town gas and kerosene would be produced in annual 1,500 sets scale in 2008 fiscal year and production capacity would increase annual 10,000 sets scale in 2009 fiscal year. Toshiba FC Systems Corp. will complete production plan in this fiscal year. Nippon Oil Corp. has a policy of purchasing FC business unit of Sanyo Electric Co., Ltd. and would invest its own money for mass production.
@Because accomplishment of 40,000 hour endurance is just in sight, the above companies intend mass production, and the production cost seems to be 4 - 5 million yen per one set at present. However, it is anticipated that the cost would be decreased to 1 million yen in 2010 by mass production effect and adopting common components and specifications. They are aiming at 500,000 yen in 2015 fiscal year. [The Nihon Keizai Shimbun Nov. 27, 2007]
(4)Osaka Gas Co., Ltd.
@The company has succeeded in cost reduction of reforming catalyst for natural gas reforming equipment of home use PEFC systems. By finely dispersing noble metal catalyst particles, reacting surface is increased without decreasing the performance, and the amount of used noble metal is reduced to about 1/3 in comparison with conventional ones. This catalyst consists of alumina carriers and noble metal particles of catalytic activity, and the noble metal particle size is decreased from several tens nm to several nm. Furthermore noble metal selectively exists on the carrier surface, so that noble metal particles can effectively contribute to promotion of reaction. By a laboratory experiment it was confirmed that degradation of catalytic activity was not found after 15,000 hour test. Continuous use for 10 years would be possible. The test in PEFC systems developed by the company was also started. The company intends commercialization of SOFC systems in 2008 fiscal year, and application of the catalyst to SOFC systems is also under consideration. [The Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun (business and technology) Nov. 28, 2007]
(1)The 3rd Osaka Motor Show
@The 3rd Osaka Motor Show was held since Nov. 30, 2007 at Index Osaka. Honda Motor Corp. makes full use of FC in its "PUYO" and its friendly design is its characteristic point. [The Nikkan Jidosha Shimbun (automobile) Nov. 13, 2007]
(2)Honda Motor Corp.
@On Nov. 14, 2007 the company published a new model of FCV "FCX Clearity" in the auto show in Los Angels, US. The maximum output is 100 kW and increased by 20% compared with the previous model, and lithium batteries are installed. The pressure of stored hydrogen is 350 atmospheres and mileage is 20% increased (110 km per l kg of hydrogen). Thus the range by one charge of hydrogen is about 570 km and improved by 30% longer than conventional FCV. In US lease at 600 US dollars per month by 3 month contract will be started since summer of 2008 and in Japan it is also going to start within 2008. [The Yomiuri Shimbun, The Asahi Shimbun, The Nihon Keizai Shimbun, The Nikkei Sangyo Shimbun (economy and industry), The Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun (business and technology), The Nikkan Jidosha Shimbun (automobile), The Tokyo Shimbun Nov. 16, 2007, The Mainichi Shimbun Nov. 17, 2007, The Fuji Sankei Business Eye Nov. 19, 2007, The Sankei Shimbun, The Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun (business and technology), The Nikkan Jidosha Shimbun (automobile), The Tokyo Shimbun, The Chunichi Shimbun, The Chugoku Shimbun, The Kahoku Shimpo Nov. 22, 2007 and The Tekko Shimbun (iron and steel) Nov. 27, 2007]
(3)Toyota Motor Corp.
@In the 23rd Symposium on Electric Vehicles (EVS 23), which was held from Dec. 2 to 5 in 2007 in Los Angels, US, the company displayed a concept car of FCHV, which drew much attention of participants. The mechanism was shown by which power drives wheels by hybrid system combining FC and a conventional combustion engine. The FCHV consists of electric motors, FC stacks, an electric power controller, three hydrogen cylinders, NIMH batteries and an engine. [The Dempa Shimbun (radio wave) Dec. 6, 2007]
7.Demonstration of Hydrogen Station
@In US Honda Motor Corp. started test of "Home Energy Station IV" which has functions of hydrogen supply to FCV and cogeneration. The company began to operate the first model developed in cooperation with Plug Power in 2003. The newly operated system is the fourth model. Hydrogen is supplied by reforming of natural gas. Important points in the fourth model are high efficiency and downsizing. By combining hydrogen purification and FC, the size was reduced to about 70% compared with the first one. [The Sankei Shimbun and The Denki Shimbun (electricity) Nov. 22, 2007]
8.Establishment of Research Center for Hydrogen Industrial Use and Storage
@National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology established "Research Center for Hydrogen Industrial Use and Storage" as a worldwide stronghold at Ito Campus of Kyushu University in Nishi ward of Fukuoka city. The opening ceremony was held at the center in the morning of Nov. 9, 2007. Collaborative researches will be made by top-level researchers of hydrogen energy from Japan and foreign countries. About 50 researchers will be invited from National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology, Kyushu University etc. to elucidate hydrogen brittleness of metals and to study hydrogen heat conduction etc. aiming at establishment of hydrogen safety. [The Nishinippon Shimbun Nov. 9, 2007]
9. Development of Direct Ethanol FC (DEFC)
@A research group including Asahi Kasei Chemicals Co., Ltd., Kyushu University etc. developed catalyst for DEFC without platinum. Ethanol is superior to methanol because the former is less poisonous that the latter, and when bio-ethanol is used, effect of reducing CO2 emission is large. The new catalyst was developed by collaboration of Asahi Kasei Chemicals Co., Ltd., Kyushu University and Noguchi Research Institute, and it is copper complex of dithio-oxamide having catalytic effect of decomposing ethanol with oxygen. When it is observed by painting the complex on chemical reaction membrane, it is made clear that the output of 0.1 mW/cm2 would be obtained. At present the efficiency is low, and the output is only one several-hundredth, but simulation shows that the efficiency could be increase by hundred times higher than the present efficiency. They will make modification of catalyst and electrode structure aiming at similar output of DMFC. The usages would be similar to DMFC, for instance power sources for portable equipments [The Nikkei Sangyo Shimbun (economy and industry) Nov. 29, 2007]
10.Development Trends of Periphery Devices
(1) Matsushita Electric Works, Ltd.
@The company developed an ultra-small vane type pump applicable to low-viscosity liquid like water. By simultaneous use of characteristic feature of vane type and mechanism to reduce pressure loss in the pump, the ability of exhausting air formed from dissolved air is improved and it works without decreasing pump performance. A vane type pump is one of rotating pumps, and by rotating movement liquid in a room partitioned with vanes is pushed out, so that even if air dissolved it can be pushed out together. Furthermore, the capability is improved by adding special machining on vanes to exhaust air. Thus the pressure is increased by about 20% higher than those without machining, and the capability is improved. The small size of 30 mm X 30 mm with 10 mm thickness is in sight, and long life of 44,000 hour endurance was accomplished. The company is proposing application to micro-DMFC for portable phones and water cooling devices for personal computers. [The Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun (business and technology) Nov. 10, 2007]
(2)C. I. Kasei Co., Ltd.
@The company developed an ultra-small liquid pump which can be put on a fingertip and it begins sales. Attaching an ultra-small motor developed by the company, it is going to be sold for methanol pumps in micro-DMFC. The developed ultra-small liquid pump is 4.5 mm high, 6.5 mm wide and 1.9 cm long. They succeeded in smooth action of the pump by modifying shape of two rotors. It is possible to push out small amount of liquid. The voltage is 4.5 V and the amount of liquid the pump can supply is 15 mL/min. The weight is 0.8 g. The size of the motor is a little bit smaller than the pump. By order these size and capability can be modified. At present these are manufactured at a pilot plant in Sumida ward of Tokyo prefecture, and annual sales of several hundred millions yen after 3 years is the goal. [The Nikkei Sangyo Shimbun (economy and industry) Nov. 26, 2007]
------------ This edition is made up a of December 6, 2007 ---------------