@Unofficial announcement of 2008 fiscal year budget for Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry is 421.2 billion yen for general account and 1.2% decrease compared with that in the previous year. Including energy special account they are 1020.8 billion yen and 0.6% decrease. For development of next generation automobiles and fuel cells it is 58.2 billion yen. (In the previous year it was 56.6 billion yen.) For promotion of technological development based on next generation automobiles and fuel initiative, 28.9 billion yen is allocated to technological development related with FC and hydrogen. Furthermore, 12.7 billion yen is allocated to investigation and development of bio-mass fuels, and 8.3 billion yen to strategic technology development and introduction promotion of storage battery systems. [The Nikkan Jidosha Shimbun (automobile) Dec. 22, 2007] @@
2.Development and Demonstration of SOFC
@On Dec. 6, 2007 J Power (Electric Power Development Co., Ltd.) announced that it had succeeded in over 100 kW DC output power generation in testing of "ambient pressure 150 kW SOFC system" for town gas fuel. The testing was carried out at Chigasaki Laboratory of Technology Development Center since January of 2007. This system consists of 6 units of 25 kW modules. By the end of November the continuous operating time of about 1,050 hours and the accumulated time of about 3,300 hours were achieved. The company aims at the output of about 1500 kW class and the operating time over 10,000 hours in full testing by the end of 2008 fiscal year. In about 1 year testing long term reliability would be confirmed, while future tasks would be extracted for development of SOFC to be commercialized in the future. In long term the company intends real use of hydrogen from gasified coal. [The Denki Shimbun (electricity) and The Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun (business and technology) Dec. 7, 2007]
@Petroleum Energy Center (PEC) announced on Dec. 13, 2007 that it started power generation test of SOFC as one in series of new fuel oil development by Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry. Performance evaluation is carried out for real use of kerosene fueled SOFC systems. The testing is underway in PEC Toda Second Combustion Research Section located at Japan Energy Refining Technology Center. They succeeded in development of a prototype plant of the rated output of 1 kW class using desulphurized kerosene. Self-heated reforming was adopted, and it is superior in "load following performance" which is speedy change of reforming rate following power output change. [The Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun (business and technology), and The Chemical Daily Dec. 11, 2007]
3.Development of Elementary Technologies Related with PEFC Etc.
(1) Dai Nippon Printing Co. Ltd.
@In collaboration with Kansai Paint Co. Ltd. the above company developed technology for producing separators of aluminum, and it began sample shipping. Using light metal it has two superior characteristics at the same time; one is thinness compared with carbon and the other is lightness compared with stainless steel. The separator is made of aluminum, and resin film is formed by electro-deposition on its surface. Thus a weak point of corrosion is covered. Anti-corrosion characteristic is confirmed by 2,000 h continuous operation. The cost is estimated half compared with stainless steel. On the surface of separators are ditches of 0.8 - 1.0 mm width and 0.9 - 0.8 mm depth, and a certain devise of heat treatments was made to uniformly coat these ditches, together with modifying aluminum surface. [The Nikkei Sangyo Shimbun (economy and industry) Dec. 12, 2007]
(2) Kyoto University etc.
@An international research team, consisting of Kyoto University, Japan Synchrotron Resonance Radiation Institute (Spring 8) and a French university, has succeeded in synthesis of iron oxide of new structure (SrFeO2), in which iron atoms and oxygen atoms are arranged regularly on a plane and this planes are stacked up. Prof. Kageyama, an associate professor of Science School of Kyoto University and his co-workers made SrFeO3 at 1,100oC, and then cooling it down to 300oC, one third of oxygen atoms are released. In this compound an iron atom is surrounded with 6 oxygen atoms and partly with 4 oxygen atoms, and the plane is stacked up to form a layered structure. The structure resembles to that of a superconducting copper oxide (SrCuO2), so that possibility cannot be ignored that this is the first superconducting iron oxide. Furthermore, it can absorb much oxygen, so that it is said that by using this compound in FC cathodes high efficiency and downsizing could be expected. [The Yomiuri Shimbun and The Chemical Daily Dec. 13, 2007].
(3) Kansai University etc.
@Together with Prof Kijima of Miyazaki University, Prof. Kawasaki, an associate professor of Biotchnology Faculty of Kansai University made platinum disks of 3 nm thickness in a solution. When it is used as catalyst, platinum can be thin compared with particles, so that it leads to reduction of platinum. When it is used in the solution, it can be used repeatedly. Beside catalyst for FC, it is anticipated for these platinum disks to be fully used in cleaners of exhausted gas by a car and in synthesis of medicines and oils. In experiment, when a graphite plate is immersed in mixed solution of surfactant (C16TAOH) and chloroplatinic acid for 30 min, complex of the surfactant and chloroplatinic acid is formed on a line between the graphite plate and solution surface. Thus formed fibrous coagulates (5 - 10 nm diameter) are immersed in pure water at 25oC for about 10 min. to reduce chloroplatinic acid. Platinum disks of 5 - 10 nm diameter are formed on fibers in highly dispersed state. When platinum ions attach on fibers on the graphite plate, platinum ions are supplied from solids on the bottom of the solution, so that the solution can be used again. After cleaning platinum disk surface the surface of graphite plate is cleaned to remove excess surfactant. The platinum disks are stable during this treatment. For keeping the disk geometry at high temperature, protection with organic compound is under consideration. [The Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun (business and technology) Dec. 14, 2007]
4.Business Deployment of Home Use PEFC
(1) Nippon Oil Corp.
@Nippon Oil Corp. is going to commercialize home use PEFC systems using general commercially available kerosene in 2009 fiscal year. The company developed a system "ENEOS ECOBOY" using desulphurized specific kerosene in collaboration with Ebara-Ballard Corp. and Ebara Corp. The development of new systems is going to be done based on this system and by adding desulphurizing function. The company thinks as follows. The large-scale demonstration would be completed in 2008 fiscal year and it would promote to stage of commercialization. In this stage drum transport of specific desulphurized kerosene would be disadvantageous in cost. To propagate FC in kerosene market under influence of overall electrification, the function is essential to use commercially available kerosene. In this point Idemitsu Kosan Co., Ltd. succeeded in development of using commercially available kerosene in cooperation with Toshiba FC Systems Corp. and it is planning demonstration of about 10 sets in general homes in 2008 fiscal year. [The Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun (business and technology) Dec. 13, 2007]
(2) Sekisui House Co., Ltd.
@Together with Nihon Soken Inc. and Web Power Service, the above company started a demonstration in its residential subdivision "Common Life Koga City (Ibaraki prefecture)." The demonstration is started to realize a FC town in which electric power and heat are shared. In the demonstration home use FC are installed in 14 detached houses and data on use of electric power and heat will be gathered for 2 years. The data would be used in computer simulation of sharing of electric power and heat in virtual residential area. [The Nikkei Sangyo Shimbun (economy and industry), The Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun (business and technology), The Nikkan Kensetsu Kogyo Shimbun (construction) Dec. 14, 2007, The Denki Shimbun (electricity) Dec. 17, 2007 and The Jutaku Shimpo (residence) Dec. 18, 2007]
(1) Honda Motor Corp.
@In a press conference in Tokyo on Dec. 19, 2007 the president of the company, Mr. Fukui told its policy that the company concentrates resources in development of FCV among next generation automobiles. He also stated that the company does not make a point of PHEV (Plug-in Hybrid Vehicles), saying "From viewpoint of technology its reason of existence is not clear." As to non-silicon type solar cells, whose mass production was started in autumn of 2007, he said that expansion of sales network and worldwide sales are put in sight. In FCV business, he announced that new FCV model improved in the mileage and range, "FCV Clarity," will be leased in US since summer of 2008 and in Japan since fall of 2008. The new model runs 500 km by 4 kg of hydrogen, anticipating it will be as easy as gasoline. He also spoke about CIGS type solar cells produced and sold by its subsidiary company, Honda Soltec, showing his eagerness. "Mass production capacity of a factory in Kumamoto prefecture will amount to 27,500 kW in spring of 2008. At present the sales strong folds are 80, and within 2008 they are going to increase to 200, while organization for oversea sales will also be made strong." As to home use small cogeneration units consisting "Ecowill", "Monthly sales are 1,000 units and steady, and total accumulated domestic sales are over 56,000 units. Sales in US were also started." [The Denki Shimbun (electricity), The Chunichi Shimbun and The Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun (business and economy) Dec. 24, 2007]
(2) Toyota Motor Corp.
@The above company is going to install its special beam line in Spring-8 of Japan Synchrotron Resonance Radiation Institute (Hyogo prefecture) in April of 2009 at its earliest time. Using its light (SOR, Synchrotron Orbital Resonance), the company is aiming at analysis of materials characteristics and structure as well as highly functional materials and components for FC etc. In Toyota beam line Toyota Central R&D Labs. Inc. is a main body for management, and R&D of FCV and HV will be carried out. [The Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun (business and technology) Dec. 27, 2007]
On Dec. 26, 2007 the company announced that it is going to rearrange its organization in order to strengthen important businesses such as HV, life-support robots etc., and the reorganization will be done on Jan. 1, 2008. Business unit of special equipment and welfare is going to be separated into management unit and manufacturing unit for strong response. A new group will be organized for advanced planning in products planning center. Water and air environment section will be disbanded, and development project for plant materials, FC etc. will be strengthened. In production engineering management the span will be improved and made efficient. Safety laboratory of vehicles is going to be divided into crash safety laboratory and room safety laboratory. In first production engineering unit press technology section and chemicals technology section will be divided into two sections each. [The Nihon Keizai Shimbun Dec. 27, 2007 and The Nikkan Jidosha Shimbun (automobile) Dec. 28, 2007]
6.Development of Hydrogen Formation and Purification
(1) Toda Kogyo Co., Ltd.
@The above company in Otake city developed iron oxide to efficiently form hydrogen from carbonized wooden bio-mass. In April of 2006 it constructed a system for producing hydrogen using this iron oxide in consumer's site, together with Carbon Circulation Energy Research Center of Tokyo Institute of Technology. Hydrogen is formed from mixture of this specific iron oxide and carbonized bio-mass. When water is introduced to carbon at high temperature, formed steam reacts with carbon to produce more hydrogen than in a conventional system. The company said "Hydrogen should be carefully handled, but carbon is easy to be handled. That is an advantage." [The Chugoku Shimbun Dec. 16, 2007]
(2) AIST Chugoku Center
@In 2004, Chugoku Center of AIST (National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology) developed technology to produce hydrogen of high concentration from wood in collaboration with Chugoku Electric Power Co., Ltd. and Hiroshima University. Gas containing over 80% hydrogen is formed by reaction of wood chip and calcium oxide with high-temperature water vapor. Research contract by Coal Energy Center on this technology was completed and the research was stopped. The problem is the high cost compared with conventional processes producing hydrogen in a factory. [The Chugoku Shimbun Dec. 16, 2007]
7.Development and Business of Metrological Instruments Related with FC and Hydrogen
@On Dec. 18, 2007 Tokai Bussan Co., Ltd. in Nagoya city announced that it made a contract with Via Space in California, US on sales of a humidity meter for FC in Japan. The company sells a humidity meter for FC called HS-1000 for automobile makers and home use FC. HS-1000 uses a laser diode as a sensor, and it enables maintenance-free humidity meter of high response, which are thought hard to make conventionally. Its response time is short, and continuous real-time measurement can be done with high accuracy. Furthermore, the sensor is not contacted with gas to be measured, so that maintenance, such as routine cleaning and calibration, is not needed, and it became very much easy to be handled. [The Dempa Shimbun (radio wave) Dec. 19, 2007]
------------ This edition is made up as of December 31, 2007. ---------------