THE LATEST FUEL CELL NEWS IN JAPAN, March 2008
`Technology Development of Hydrogen from Biomass`

Arranged by T. HOMMA
1.National Policies
2.PAFC Business
3.SOFC R&D
4.PEFC Elementary Technologies Development and Market Deployment
5.Demonstration and Business Deployment of Home Use PEFC
6.FCV Forefront
7.Business of Hydrogen Station for FCV and Related Technology Development
8.Technology Development of Hydrogen Formation and Purification
9.Development of Hydrogen Transport and Storage
10.Development of DMFC and Micro-FC
11.Metrological Technology Development Related with Hydrogen and FC
12.Auxiliary and Periphery Technologies Development for FC
13.FC Business Deployment

1.National Policies
(1) Atomic Energy Committee
@On Feb. 28, 2008 its extraordinary meeting was held and discussion was made on outline draft of road map for advanced nuclear technology development. Nuclear technologies contributing green house effect gasses were classified into three categories, i.e., power supply technology, various technologies for hydrogen formation and basic technology. Each technology is divided to short term, medium term and long term, and development goal and year to be achieved were set. After discussion this draft was approved. After examination of the road map on March 12, the final draft would be completed on March 18, 2008. In the item of various technologies, as medium term technologies contributing after 30 to 50 years, high temperature gas reactors, water decomposition, hydrogen formation by using radiation excited catalyst etc. are listed up. FC, hydrogen storage materials etc. are included into basic technologies. [The Genshiryoku Sangyo Shimbun (nuclear industry) March 6, 2008]

(2) Dialog among 20 country ministers
@In the above meeting since March 14, the Japanese government would first make carbon offset (compensation of gas exhausted in the meeting) in an international meeting sponsored by Japan. Eco-cars such as FCV would be used for ministers to suppress CO‚Q emission, and fund will be provided to activities for reduction of green house effect gases. to compensate residual part "Warm biz" is recommended and meetings benign to environment is intended. Similar attempts are going to be made in Toyako Summit G8 in July. To compensate CO‚Q the sponsor will buy "green power certificate" by which consumed power is considered to be supplied by natural energy like wind power. In addition, 14 passenger cars of hydrogen cars and FCV were prepared together with FC bus for use of ushering between Narita airport and the venue in Chiba Makuhari. [The Yomiuri Shimbun, The Mainichi Shimbun, The Hokkaido Shimbun March 15, 2008, The Chemical Daily March 17, 2008 and The Denki Shimbun (electricity) Feb. 18, 2008]

2.PAFC Business
@Fuji Electric Holdings Corp. intends to sell 50 sets of 100 kW output class PAFC for industry annually, and the systems will be assembled by Fuji Electric Technologies Corp. New models, which are price reduced present model, will be sold since September of 2008 for sewage disposal, chemical plants, oil refineries and iron factories, in which hydrogen and methane are formed in various processes. The company began to sell PAFC in 1998, but only about 24 sets were sold till now. The price of the new model reduced to half to propagate the new model. Furthermore, downsizing of equipments is intended to reduce the site area to 60 - 70%. The generating efficiency of the present model is 40% (LHV), and a set overhauled after 40,000 hour operating is now still generating power for about 75,000 hours showing outstanding high reliability. [The Denki Shimbun (electricity) and The Dempa Shimbun (radio wave) March 5, 2008]

3.SOFC R&D
@Prof. Yashima and his group in Tokyo Institute of Technology have succeeded in elucidation of diffusion path of oxide ion in SOFC air electrode. The material is relatively highly ion conducting lanthanum cobaltite of cubic perovskite, which is also promising in practical use. Originally developed sample furnace was used. The observation was made in situ by neutron diffraction at 1258oC, at which oxide ion movement can be easily observed. Maximum entropy method and pattern fitting were applied, and thus they succeeded in observation of nuclear density distribution and determination of ion diffusion path. They also found that hydrogen ion behavior in the same perovskite is similar to that in lanthanum cobaltite. This fact means that diffusion path is similar in ion conductors of the same crystalline structure, suggesting possibility of classification by the crystalline structure. By this finding structure and properties of various electrode materials would be elucidated. [The Chemical Daily March 14, 2008]

4.PEFC Elementary Technologies Development and Market Deployment
(1) Nippon Kodoshi Corp.
@The company promotes market exploitation of hybrid electrolyte membrane of inorganic and organic materials for PEFC. It is composite membrane in which polyvinyl alcohol (PVA) and inorganic oxide are mixed in molecular level. Compared with fluorocarbon membrane and hydrocarbon membrane, its cost is low and high temperature operation up to 200oC is one of the characteristics. By unique process organic oxide is reacted with salt in water solution and it is connected with OH group of PVA in the solution to form chemical bonds and composite. Because the processes are simple, the cost becomes low. Because of inorganic compound, it is chemically stable and shielding effect of methanol is also high. Furthermore, if oxide, which is endurable against alkali, is used, it can be applied to anion type FC. Since the shielding effect of methanol is high, its usage is mainly DMFC, but it will be shifted to PEFC for automobile, in which high temperature operation is aimed at. [The Chemical Daily March 3, 2008]

(2) Gunze Ltd.
@Applying its precise machining technology of fluorocarbon resin, polyimide resin (PI) etc., the company promotes R&D of FC components. In addition to high-function gas diffusion membrane made by sintering and machining of CNT, thin woven cloth and unwoven cloth of high-purity fluorocarbon resin, nanotube sheet of fluorocarbon resin and polyimide etc. were successively developed and supplied as samples. Moreover, hydrogen gas sensor was developed using solid electrolyte membrane, and with this sensor detection is possible in the room temperature within 1 second. The company stated that large cost reduction can be done compared with conventional ones. [The Chemical Daily March 4, 2008]

(3) SGL Carbon Japan Co.
@The above company exploits in FC field using newly developed gas diffusion layer made of carbon. The gas diffusion layer "SIGRA GET" is unwoven graphite fiber (felt or paper), and high porosity and high electro-conductivity are its characteristic points to bring us high-density output. Several grade products of 200 - 400 micron m thickness are made, and those of water shedding treatment and those with micro-porous layer (MPL) are prepared. HyAmp series newly put in the market are improved in performance and endurance comparing with conventional ones, and variance in quality among roles and in role are largely reduced. [The Chemical Daily March 12, 2008]

(4) Kawasho Electronics Corp.
@The company in Tokyo prefecture makes proposition of membrane production technology for separators, and by this technology amount of used platinum is reduced to 1/10 at its maximum. The company has sales contract with a French company, MHS Equipment, and the Japanese company considered that a new equipment of plasma process under development by the French company would be useful in R&D. Then the Japanese company will introduce it to FC R&D. Using plasma state, platinum catalyst can be attached on polystyrene sheet in a dry process, and in a trial sample the platinum amount can be reduced to 1/5 - 1/10. [The Chemical Daily March 19, 2008]

5.Demonstration and Business Deployment of Home Use PEFC
(1) Nippon Oil Corp. and Sanyo Electric Co., Ltd.
@On Feb. 28, 2008 the two companies announced that a new company for stationary FC is going to be established on April 1. The name of the new company will be "ENEOS Celltech" and the president will be Mr. Isshiki, a general manager of Nippon Oil Corp. at present. The new company is going to deal with system development planning, system design and production management. [The Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun (business and technology), The Dempa Shimbun (radio wave) Feb. 29, 2008, The Nikkei Sangyo Shimbun (economy and industry), The Chemical Daily March 3, 2008 and The Denki Shimbun (electricity) March 4, 2008]

(2) Sekisui House Co. Ltd.
@The company will start sales of "Eco House" in this summer, and in the house FC and energy saving equipments will be installed as the standard. Gas companies will lease FC, and the rate is estimated 100,000 yen per year (for 10 years). The equipments will be supplied by Tokyo Gas Co., Ltd. with priority, which intends to enlarge gas sales competing with all electrification. They will use thermal insulating material of by 20% increased air tightness, LED illumination, energy saving driers etc. [The Nihon Keizai Shimbun Feb. 29, 2008]
@On March 18, 2008 the company will start sales of "CO‚Q Off House" since April 3, in which FC will be installed as standard. With solar cells and FC almost all electric power consumed in the home will be supplied. The price will be by 3 million yen higher than conventional ones, and for a standard home the expense for electric power and heating is estimated about 50,000 yen per year. [The Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun (business and technology) and The Nikkei Sangyo Shimbun (economy and industry) March 19, 2008]

(3) Osaka Gas Co., Ltd.
@On March 13, 2008 the company published that it had been making cooperative development with Sanyo Electric Co., Ltd. and Toshiba FC System Corp. of home use PEFC cogeneration systems and endurance of 40,000 hour, a target for commercialization, came in the sight. Hereafter R&D will be done for improvements bringing us cost down, aiming at the commercialization in 2009 fiscal year. The production cost is now 1.2 million yen per set, and they intend to reduce it to 500,000 yen per set. [The Yomiuri Shimbun, The Mainichi Shimbun, The Nihon Keizai Shimbun, The Sankei Shimbun, The Denki Shimbun (electricity), The Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun (business and technology), The Chemical Daily March 14, 2008, The Fuji Sankei Business Eye March 15, 2008, The Dempa Shimbun (radio wave) March 17, 2008 and The Nikkei Sangyo Shimbun (economy znd industry) March 18, 2008]

(4) New Energy Foundation (NEF)
@NEF recently reported operation results of stationary FC in the large-scale demonstration since 2005 fiscal year. At the end of December in 2007 the total accumulated generating time is about 9.4 million hours and the total accumulated power amounts to 5.3 kWh. [The Denryoku Shimbun (electric power) March 17, 2008]

6. FCV Forefront
@In JHFC seminar of 2007 fiscal year, the following anticipation was shown on FCV. Considering FCV activities by FCCJ, decision will be made on commercialization around 2015 and the propagation period will be since 2016. Considering also "post-JHFC" since 2011, further tasks to be solved, such as const reduction, endurance improvement and support of hydrogen infrastructure, which should be constructed before full real use. They are discussed in the seminar. Average mileage of six models was 101.9 km/kg (hydrogen) in 2007 and 10.3% increase was observed comparing with that in 2004 fiscal year (92.4 km/kg of hydrogen). That of the top runner was changed from 108.7 km/kg to 126.5 km/kg and 16.4% improvement was shown. In the plenary lecture Mr. Ishitani, the chairman, pointed out that unsolved tasks, in comparison with beginning by JHFC in 2002 fiscal year, became a few items, i.e., improvement in endurance and reliability, and cost reduction. While technological development proceeded, construction of infrastructure should be solved together with standards and institutions, Mr. Ishitani pointed out. [The Nikkan Jidosha Shimbun (automobile) March 15 and 17, 2008, and The Chemical Daily March 18, 2008]

7.Business of Hydrogen Station for FCV and Related Technology Development
(1) Osaka Rasenkan Kogyo Co., Ltd.
@The above company in Osaka city developed metallic flexible hose with which high-pressure gas at 70 MPa can be flown safely. Austenite stainless steel thin plate is folded to form bellows and with knitted stainless steel wires withstands high pressure preventing expansion. The hose can be bent easily even by a woman. Endurance against repeated bending is over 35,000 times, and it can be used at 85oC. Assuming use as a high-pressure gas charging hose for FCV, it begins sample shipping through Nitto Koki Co., Ltd. Comparing with resin hoses, it is expensive, but the company is trying real use taking advantage of no hydrogen leakage and high reliability in high temperature. [The Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun (business and technology) Feb. 29, 2008]

(2) Japan Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Demonstration Project (JHFC project) @In JHFC projects, operation of stations of 70 MPa hydrogen will start in this summer to examine safety and efficiency. After getting governmental legal approval JHFC will install them at 4 stations in Senju (Tokyo prefecture), Asahi (Yokohama city), Daikoku (Yokohama city) and Funabashi (Chiba prefecture) among 11 hydrogen stations of low pressure. Amount of charged hydrogen becomes about 1.6 times more than conventional stations at 35 MPa. While mileage of FCV also becomes longer, additional energy is needed for cooling due to increasing pressure at charging and for preventing temperature increase of hydrogen. JHFC is planning to demonstrate safety due to pressure increase and energy efficiency. [The Nikkan Jidosha Shimbun March 10, 2008]

8. Technology Development of Hydrogen Formation and Purification
(1) Kyoto University
@Prof. Imanaka in Faculty of Technology of Kyoto University developed technology producing efficiently hydrogen from drainage of food factory by using microbes working at high temperature, 85oC. Prof. Imanaka found this microbe living in high temperature around a spiracle of hot spa in Kodakara island of the Tokara islands. He directs his attention to its nature of forming hydrogen from garbage like tempura. Inventing device to keep the microbes in sponge in high density, he succeeded in hydrogen formation at the rate of 1.1 L/h from 1 L of culture solution. In conventional way methane from drainage is reformed to hydrogen. By the new method the rate of formation is about 1,000 times higher and it has another advantage that other microbe can not breed because of high temperature. He also invented a new process to reduce sludge to about 5% of conventional amount. "A new process combining sludge reduction and hydrogen production is intended for a new drainage treating process." Prof. Imanaka said. [The Yomiuri Shimbun March 10, 2008]

(2) Toyota Central R&D Labs. Inc.
@The institute developed hydrogen production technology using microwave. The new technology is a process of steam reforming of methanol using catalyst of rhodium and cerium oxide with microwave (2.45 GHz). The activation energy is constant and independent on methanol concentration and it is a unique point that 100% conversion to hydrogen is achieved. Microwave process has an advantage that energy used in heating can be reduced to about 10% compared with conventional method by external heating. Because only catalyst is heated internally in a short time, start-up performance is good, so that reforming of high energy efficiency can be expected. At the maximum field in single mode resonance cavity a quartz tube is set, and in its center catalyst pellets are inserted. By experiment it was confirmed that reforming proceeds at 150 - 200oC lower temperature than calculated equilibrium concentration by heating at the rate of 100oC/s. The institute continued R&D for future real use of fuel reforming technology. [The Chemical Daily March 11, 2008 and The Nikkei Sangyo Shimbun March 14, 2008]

(3) Shinco Electric Co., Ltd.
@The company is making R&D of hydrogen production process to make it really usable by using unique CO selective absorbent of copper complex and intends to realize downsizing and high efficiency of PSA process. The absorbent is highly selective and size of absorbent can be reduced to 33%, and at the same time hydrogen recovery ratio was improved from 70% to 80%. Furthermore, it is an advantage that system can be assembled less expensively using copper complex than platinum complex. The company made experiment using laboratory scale apparatus of 1 m‚R hydrogen rate and confirmed effectiveness. Demonstration using 1000 m3 plant is going to make since 2008 or later. Pure hydrogen production process combining CO selective absorbent and hydrogen storage alloy is proposed and its R&D will be continued. In the process pure hydrogen is produced from reformed gas using CO absorbent, and then it is stored in hydrogen storage alloy. Thus in PEFC hydrogen storage tanks become unnecessary, and power generating efficiency would be increased. The company assumed also its use in apartment houses and large-scale systems. [The Chemical Daily March 11, 2008]

(4) Renaissance Energy Research Corp.
@The above company in Osaka city developed nickel catalyst for PEFC reforming.. The R&D was made in collaboration with Kobe University, Hachinohe Technology College, Beijing University of Science and Technology and Polish research institute of catalyst and surface chemistry, and the new catalyst is superior in anti-coking and anti-sintering characteristics to ruthenium catalyst. Lanthanum is loaded on gamma alumina of large surface area. Reduced carbon deposition was confirmed and with additives deposited carbon sintering was also suppressed favorung reactants to attach to catalyst surface. In nickel catalyst for water vapor reforming, K and Mg are used as additives to suppress carbon deposition, but catalyst degrades by carbon coking compared with ruthenium catalyst. It was newly found that by loading nickel on gamma alumina of surface area over 100 cm‚Q/g together with lanthanum, crystalline structure change was not observed by sintering at 1000oC for 5 hours and steam treatment at 700oC for 24 hours. Nickel was highly dispersed even in high temperature and pressure. Hereafter, while confirming long-term stability, R&D will be done to establish technology for mass production and industrialization. To keep high performance together with low cost, optimum loading of nickel with lanthanum will be investigated. [The Chemical Daily March 14, 2008]

(5) Research Institute of Innovative Technology for the Earth (RITE) and Sharp Corp.
@The above two developed technology for efficiently producing hydrogen from biomass using intestine bacteria changed by gene technology. They made experiment putting 200 g of bacteria into a 1 L container, and hydrogen was obtained at the rate of 20 L/h. Theoretically about 100 L of hydrogen can be obtained from about 180 g of sugar, but in experiment only half of hydrogen was obtained. While they try to increase production efficiency by improving the bacteria, they will also try continuous production. [The Nihon Keizai Shimbun March 14, 2008]

9.Technology Development of Hydrogen Transport and Storage
(1) Kurita Water Industries Corp.
@The above company is carrying out R&D for real use of fuel storage technology applying its own clathrate compounds technology. As host compounds clathrate compounds include guest compounds, such as liquid methanol and hydrogen, and form solid compounds. In the case of hydrogen as guest compound, hydrogen molecule is included without chemical reaction and it forms by low energy consumption, so that hydrogen can be stored and released. Compared with hydrogen storage alloys, its weight is light, and goals of the company are weight density of 6% and volume density of 50 kg/m‚R (hydrogen). Compounds including hydrogen can be used repeatedly, and its economic feasibility is also expected to be promising. Advanced research is made for solid methanol compound, and leakage is suppressed by controlling volatility. In the beginning contact with water is needed for using in DMFC, but at present power generation can be done using only solid methanol compound. The company and a partner making development together planned to announce cartridge type devises for installing in DMFC. However, they are going to make R&D not only for mobile equipments but also for large-scale usage like hydrogen stations. [The Chemical Daily Feb. 29, 2008]

(2) The Japanese Steel Works LTD.( JSW) and Tohoku University
@JSW developed AlH‚R together with Prof. Orimo's group in Metal Research Institute of Tohoku University. In comparison with conventional hydrogen storage alloys, it is light and more hydrogen can be stored. Assuming a tank (38 X 46.5 X 10 mm) used for portable phones, the total weight is reduced to half compared with those of general AB5 type alloys and about 1.5 times hydrogen can be stored. The storage densities are high; the weight storage density is 10.1 weight % and the volume storage density is 149 kg/m‚R. After releasing hydrogen highly reusable aluminum is obtained. By analyzing liquid reaction process, stable homogenous AlH‚R powder production was developed. They intend to develop hydrogen fuel tanks for portable equipments, however, the problems are that it is hard to charge hydrogen compared with hydrogen storage alloys and the temperature for releasing hydrogen is rather high at 80oC. [The Chemical Daily March 13, 2008]

10.Development of DMFC and Micro-FC
@A US company, MTI Micro Fuel Cells in New York State starts sales of chargers for FC in Japanese market. The chargers of this company as universal chargers were applied to DSC and also to various portable devices to supply power, and examples are portable phones, MPS players, smart phones etc. [The Dempa Shimbun (radio wave) Feb. 29, 2008]
@The company promotes business deployment for passive DMFC, and will bring universal chargers of cartridge type and further chargers of fuel cartridge type in the market in this year. It will commercialize chargers set in portable devices. Its passive type DMFC without a pump works in 0 - 40oC and methanol of 100% concentration can be used. By controlling with various parameters, water intake is controlled at necessary amount, and formed water is also circulated. Almost components are produced by injection technology, so that mass production is easily made. Universal chargers to be shipped in 2008 will be refined and downsizing will also be done. First refill type and then cartridge type will be put in the market. Compared with lithium ion battery, power generating performance is better, so that premium will be added to the battery. [The Chemical Daily March 12, 2008]

11. Metrological Technologies Related with Hydrogen and FC
@ATUMITEC Co. in Hamamatsu city and a group in National Research Institute for Industrial Science and Technology developed a hydrogen sensor. On absorption of hydrogen, some of hydrogen storage alloy becomes transparent, and the materials are used in the sensor, with which one can detect hydrogen at a glance. The developed sensor is made by forming thin film of the hydrogen storage alloy on a glass plate. The size of thin film formed is independent on the size of glass plate, so that sensors in wide range from small size to large scale can easily be made. When it does not absorb hydrogen, it is not transparent, but when hydrogen concentration becomes 5,000 ppm, the thin film becomes transparent within about 3 seconds. It can be set on ceilings and floors, and it also can be set on joints of hydrogen pipes. Thus it can be used for detection of hydrogen leakage in various ways. [The Nikei Sangyo Shimbun (economy and industry) March 11, 2008]

12.Auxiliary and Periphery Technology Development for FC
@Kurita Water Industries Corp. developed small and light new water treatment equipment for home. In this equipment continuous electric deionization system is installed and deionization is done with combination of ion exchange membrane and ion exchange resin. Purpose of this equipment is that water condensed and exhausted from FC is purified and reused. The water production rate is 2L/h and the width, depth and height are respectively 270 mm, 50 mm and 300 mm, the weight being 2.7 kg. Light weight and maintenance-free were realized. By using heat-resistant material, high-temperature condensed water can be treated. Hereafter, they are going to make R&D for commercialization. [The Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun (business and technology) March 3, 2008]

13.FC Business Deployment
@Toray Engineering Co. Ltd. will intensify electrochemical cells manufacturing business. The company has supplied several ten production lines for lithium ion battery and capacitor. Hereafter, it will promote development for FC stack production lines, and investigation on needs was started. [The Chemical Daily March 7, 2008]

------------ This edition is made up as of March 19, 2008 ---------------