(1) Ministry of Environment
On April 2, 2008 the ministry announced its 2008 fiscal year policies for purchasing environment related goods by green purchase law. Total 36 kW scale solar photovoltaic systems will be installed at 7 sites in Shiretoko National Park, and for general official cars 7 hybrid cars, 2 FCV and 18 high mileage cars will be purchased. [The Denki Shimbun (electricity) April 2, 2008]
NEDO decided subsidiary for two research items, "Strategic R&D for real use of PEFC / elucidation of deterioration mechanism and fundamental materials research for high-performance cells in unification with nano-technology" and "Advanced research of FC." [The Dempa Shimbun (radio wave) April 2, 2008]
2.Deployment of MCFC Business
Nihon Fuel Cells Corp., a 100% subsidiary company of Marubeni Corp. will strengthen exploration of domestic market of MCFC. While bio-mass fuel draw much attention, electric generating systems using gas from organic waste are also accepted, and 8 domestic orders and 35 oversea orders were accepted. Furthermore 9 orders in 2008 and 1 order in 2009 were already decided. Among various fuel sources, use of organic waste like garbage as fuel is activated. Along with this tendency, the company promotes sales of MCFC. [The Chemical Daily March 25, 2008]
3.Development and Business Program of SOFC
TOTO has developed inexpensive home use SOFC of 1 million yen per 1 kW output. The company developed this inexpensive systems based on its own mass production technology, which has been raised up for its hygienic products. Demonstration will be made in near future, and generating systems with hot water supply will be sold in 2011 fiscal year. Before home use systems, 75 W output systems and 20 W systems will be supplied to a US power source maker since April of 2008. [The Nihon Keizai Shimbun March 31, 2008]
4.Elementary Technologies Development and Business Deployment of PEFC
(1) Hitachi Maxell Corp.
The company has developed technology, by which platinum amount on a cathode can be reduced to half. By mixing platinum fine particles with gold fine particles, catalytic performance is increased. Electrode material of carbon particles are mixed with platinum compound and gold compound and then the mixture is reacted with citric acid. Thus particles consisting platinum and gold in diameter of 2 - 3 nm is formed on the carbon particles. The ratio of platinum to gold is 4 : 1. The company applied nano-particle synthesis technology which was developed for magnetic discs. The particles are formed to an electrode. They thought that formation of nano-particles changes electronic state in platinum and it improves catalytic performance. With the electrode made of these particles about 3.2 times current flows at 0.6 V than with platinum 100% catalyst. In conventional technology iron and cobalt were added but they are dissolved into acidic electrolyte near electrodes during electric generation. Endurance of the new electrode is about 80% of the platinum 100% electrode. The company will continue development by changing the mixing ratio or by addition of other additives to establish high reactivity with long endurance. [The Nikkei Sangyo Shimbun (economy and industry) March 27, 2008]
(2) Fuji New Materials Development, Inc.
The company, a representative of Korean ACM in Tokyo prefecture, will promote market exploitation of molded carbon products for PEFC separators. In their products binder is not used so that thermal shrinkage is little and various elements can be dispersed uniformly. Thus it is its advantage that characteristic properties can be realized for needs. The ACM molded carbon products are specially treated in pre-forming process without binder. The pore size can be controlled, so that dispersed elements can be optimized. The gas flow channel can also be formed in molding process, so that thin plates of below 0.25 mm can be made. The molded products are sintered after molding at the room temperature. For separators composite grade of aluminum, titanium and copper is developed, and composite of copper and titanium is highly anti-corrosive. Furthermore, volume resistance could be successively reduced to 7 - 8 milli-ohm cm and comparing with aluminum composite it is very low. ACM will establish a mass-production factory in May of 2008, and then large separators of meter square will be able to be suppied. The company will exploit market by sample supply mainly for automobiles along with the above development. [The Chemical Daily April 4, 2008]
5.Demonstration of Home Use and Stationary FC
A cooperative team of Tokyo Institute of Technology (TIT), Tokyo Gas Co., Ltd. and Nippon Oil Corp. will start demonstration to increase electric efficiency with a FC system of combined SOFC and PEFC in 2009 at the TIT Ohkayama campus. Prof. Araki in TIT graduate course will install FC of about 10 kW in an AC electric facility of 900 kW capacity at the campus in 2009. After 3 year demonstration data will be gathered for investigation of possibility of introducing large number of FC in residential complexes and villages. In this demonstration SOFC will be operated with hydrogen, and surplus hydrogen will be stored in cylinders, while exhausted heat will be used for hydrogen production. Thus formed hydrogen will be supplied to PEFC. By using the exhausted heat for hydrogen formation, they expects 60% electric efficiency. [The Nihon Keizai Shimbun March 28, 2008]
6.Business Deployment of Home Use FC
(1) Mass production systems in various companies
For commercialization of home use FC various companies expand mass production systems. Matsushita Electric Industries Co., Ltd. is now constructing a specific factory in Kusatsu city of Shiga prefecture and it will start real production in 2008 fiscal year. The production will be increased after 2009 fiscal year. Ebara Corp. increased its production lines in Fujisawa city and the production capacity increases to 2000 sets per year. In the production program the production scale will be increased from several hundred sets in 2008 to over 1000 sets in 2009 fiscal year, and furthermore, to several thousand sets in 2010 which needs further increase in the production lines. Sanyo Electric Co., Ltd. established a new company on April 1, 2008 together with Nippon Oil Corp. for unification of their business. [The Mainichi Shimbun April 5, 2008]
(2) Tokyo Gas Co., Ltd.
On April 10, 2008 Tokyo Gas Co., Ltd. announced that it installed home use PEFC at the official residence of Kanagawa prefecture governor and the FC was cooperatively developed with Matsushita Electric Industries Co., Ltd. [The Denki Shimbun (electricity), The Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun (business and technology) April 11, 2008, The Dempa Shimbun (radio wave) and The Chemical Daily April 15, 2008]
(3) Matsushita Electric Industries Co., Ltd.
The above company announced on April 14, 2008 that it developed home use PEFC and its electric generation efficiency reached to 39% (LHV) at 750 W. When it is introduced into general home, annually 3,260 kWh energy saving is possible. The FC unit is 78cm wide, 40 cm deep and 86 cm high, respectively, and those of the hot water unit are 48.6 cm wide, 75 cm deep and 188.3 cm high, respectively. In 2008 fiscal year several hundred sets will be produced in a factory in Kusatsu city for demonstration, and the sales will be started in 2009 fiscal year. Market in 2009 fiscal year was estimated 5,000 sets. "At present the price of a set is several million yen, and we hope to reduce the price to 600 thousand yen in 2015 fiscal year assuming 60 - 100 thousand set annual production." They said. [The Yomiuri Shimbun, The Asahi Shimbun, The Aminichi Shimbun, The Nihon Keizai Shimbun, The Denki Shimbun (electricity), The Nikei Sangyho Shimbun (economy and industry), The Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun (business and technology), The Dempa Shimbun (radio wave), The Tokyo Shimbun, The Kyoto Shimbun, The Chugoku Shimbun, The Fuji Sankei Business Eye, The Dchemical Daily, and The kahoku Shimpo April 15, 2008]
Matsushita Home Appliances Co., a subsidiary company of the above, developed also FC of long endurance. Together with the above home use PEFC of the highest electric efficiency in the world, the company developed FC of 40,000 hour operation, which corresponds to 10 year endurance and 4,000 start and stop operations. The Kensetsu Tushin Shimbun (construction) April 17, 2008]
Honda Motor Corp. announced on April 16, 2008 that a new model FCV "FCX Clarity" was officially accepted as an official car in "Indy Car Series The Third Match Indy Japan" which would be held on April 17 - 19 at Twin Ring Motegi (Motegi town, Tochigi prefecture). [The Nikkan Jidosha Shimbun (automobile) April 17, 2008]
8.Business of Hydrogen Station and Hydrogen Production
Iwatani Corp. in Osaka city will construct a liquid hydrogen production plant (production capacity 3,000 L/h X 1 line) for investment of about 3.7 billion yen at Chiba factory of Iwatani Gas, a subsidiary company. The construction is going to start in June of 2008 and will be completed in June of 2009. Liquid hydrogen is used in various domestic areas like space rockets, FCV, semiconductors, metals and glasses. Recently demand increases in semiconductors and solar cells. For establishing supply system, the company decided to construct a plant in Kanto area in addition to Kansai area (3,000 L/h X 2 lines). [The Kensetsu Kogyo Shimbun (construction) April 2, 2008]
9.Technology Development of Hydrogen Formation and Purification
PEC (Petroleum Energy Center) published its activities program of 2008 fiscal year on March 19. In the program new activities are included, i.e., efficient hydrogen production in oil refineries, hydrogen recovery using organic hydrides etc. A new item, "Technology development for high-grade utilization of future type fuel cells" will be started with 860 million yen. For high purity hydrogen production for FCV from naphtha, membrane separation system will be examined to separate hydrogen and CO２ at the same time. A compact reactor will be developed to recover hydrogen from organic hydrides. Development of hydrogen production technology from commercial kerosene is also going to be made. [The Chemical Daily March 21, 2008]
(2) Hagio High-Pressure Containers Co., Ltd.
The above company in Niihama city demonstrated that its developed de-sulfurizer attached to an LPG cylinder could be operated for 2 years i.e., for over 15,000 hours using commercially available LPG without any influence to FC. Sulfur concentration could also be successfully decreased from 100 - 1000 ppm to 10 ppm at average. In the demonstration home use PEFC was operated on condition that all LPG gas in the cylinder shall be used up. FC sale is going to start in 2009, so that the company is intending to sell this product along with the situation. [The Chemical Daily March24, 2008 and The Ehime Shimbun April 3, 2008]
The above company develops low-pressure de-sulfurizer for LPG specified home use PEFC. When LPG gas in a cylinder is exhausted, sulfur concentration in the cylinder increase drastically and it causes degradation of electrodes and catalyst. By attaching low-pressure de-sulfurizer, gas can be used completely and at the same time life of electrodes and catalyst can be extended. The company purchased home use PEFC of 1 kW scale, and demonstration was made with the de-sulfurizer. Assuming over 2 year continuous operation, LPG gas is completely used up. This product is matched with needs of FC makers, which manages comprehensively overall system of home use FC. [The Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun (business and technology) April 16, 2008]
10. Technology Development of Hydrogen Storage and Transport
(1) Tohoku University
Prof. Masuo Okada in graduate course of Tohoku University (energy information technology) and his group developed hydrogen storage metal, with which evolved heat during the storage can be reduced to half. The group began the research of hydrogen storage metals by request of an automobile company. Titanium content in conventional hydrogen storage metals is 40 - 50%, but the group decreased it to scarce amount and they investigated other alloys, in which vanadium and/or molybdenum of less evolved heat are contained as main components. "If cooling is unnecessary, downsizing of a tank and increase in capacity are expected. Thus it brings us much room in a car." they said. [The Kahoku Shimpo March 26, 2008]
JRCM, a center for R&D of metallic materials, succeeded in data gathering of materials characteristics like stainless steel in high-pressure hydrogen (70MPa). Data of influence of hydrogen on metallic materials are not so enough even from worldwide viewpoints. JRCM has been gathering the data by subsidiary of NEDO together with Nippon Steel and Sumitomo Stainless Steel Corp., Sumitomo Metal Industries, Ltd., Aichi Steel Co., Ltd. and The High Pressure Gas Safety Institute of Japan (KHK). Especially Nippon Steel and Sumitomo Stainless Steel Corp. established a testing facility up to 90 MPa in its comprehensive technology center, and it has made tensile test and wearing test of SUS316L etc. The obtained data will be fully used by KHK for standardization of high-pressure container of 70 MPa class. [The Tekko Shimbun (iron and steel) March 26, 2008]
11.Development of Portable FC and Related Technology
Sato Light Industrial Co., Ltd. in Tsu city of Mie prefecture developed cartridges and valves. The development was done together with US research company Via Space (a NASA related firm) by using its own welding technique using ultrasonic wave and laser. Welding strength and gas tightness are improved, and mass production is also in sight. The developed ones are polyethylene cartridge of reduced methanol permeability, valves of polyetheretherketone (PEEK) etc. DMFC Cell developing FC under Via Space is a cooperative company, and they have made research from designing to commercialization. Samsung accept them in FC for portable electronic equipments, and they supply samples to Samsung SDI. Official order will be received along with commercialization. [The Chemical Daily March 28, 2008 and The Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun (business and technology) March 31, 2008]
12.Technology Development and Business Deployment Related with Hydrogen and FC
(1) Research Institute for Materials Science
The institute and Waseda University developed technique by which micro-pores are made regularly on fibrous metal. The size of the pores can easily be controlled and it can be applied to various metals. Application to FC and bio-sensors are expected. Materials containing metal are mixed with detergent and ethanol solvent, and by anode oxidation the metal is deposited in long pores made on alumina plates. Thus metal fibers with perpendicular pore in regular arrangement are formed, and the diameter of the pores is 2 - 20 nm. The metal fibers have numerous fine pores, so that they have large surface area, and application to catalyst is expected. [The Nikkei Sangyo Shimbun (economy and industry) March 31, 2008]
(2) Taiyo Wire Cloth Co., Ltd.
The above company in Osaka city begins market research of heat-resistant silicone adhesives "i-seal." It has heat resistance over 300oC and transparent in visible light region (over 99% transmittance). Since it can be applied to glass, ceramics, metals and so on, its application to FC components and production equipment is expected. The adhesive was developed by S F C in Yokohama city, and Taiyo Metal Net Co., Ltd. begins activity as a sales representative. [The Chemical Daily April 10, 2008]
13.Business Related with Hydrogen and FC
On March 21, 2008 Dainichi Co., Ltd. in Niigata city established "FC Development Section" for development of burners used in FC and their future mass production. [The Niigata Nippo March 22, 2008]
------------ This edition is made up as of April 20, 2008 ---------------