`Highly Active SOFC Air Electrode by Surface Structure Control`

Arranged by T. Homma
1. National Policies
2. Development of SOFC and DCFC
3. PEFC Elementary Technologies Development
4. Demonstration and Business of Home Use PEFC
5. FCV Forefront
6. Development and Business of Hydrogen Station
7. Technology Development Related with Hydrogen Transport and Storage
8. Development of Portable FC
9. Development and Business of Metrological Technology Related with FC and Hydrogen
10. Business Deployment by Firms

1. National Policies
(1) Ministry of Land, Transport and Infrastructure
@On September 24, 2008 the ministry had a meeting of a working group for formulating world unified regulation (GTR) of hydrogen and FC automobiles in Tokyo. The meeting would be held by September 26, and it was scheduled to report activities in participating countries and to discuss formulation of regulation. Draft on safety standard of FCV using compressed hydrogen was completed by Japan, and Japan and USA as co-chairpersons were formulating GRT based on UN agreement in 1998. Completion in 2010 fiscal year is intended. Beside the co-chairpersons, EU, Germany, Canada, Hungary, China, Korea, International Organization of Automobile Industry (OICA) and ISO were participated. [The Nikkan Jidosha Shimbun (automobile) Sept. 25, 2008]

(2) Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry
@Mr. Nikai, the Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry, announced on October 7, 2008 that review of energy supply structure was going to start. The government leads companies dealing oil, electric power and gas to expand introduction of solar cells, hydraulic generation, nuclear power, which do not emit green house effect gases. This is a policy by considering increase of resources prices like oil as well as global warming It promotes new energy resources exploitation like oil sand and methane hydrate and also accelerates research of FC etc. Already really used new energy such as solar cells, bio-mass etc. is planned to expand. Revising the present law of oil alternative energy, proposition of a new law "high energy supply structure" (tentative) would be made in regular diet meeting in the next year. Before this discussion will be made in Overall Energy Investigation Committee and an interim report will be presented in the end of the year. [The Sankei Shimbun, The Hokkaido Shimbun and The Fuji Sankei Business Eye Oct. 8, 2008]
@Agency of Natural Resources and Energy of Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry decided introduction of subsidiary to promote propagation of home use FC systems. 7.4 billion yen was appropriated in 2009 fiscal year budget draft and subsidiary ratio and other details would be decided by the end of year. Aiming at real propagation, market formation and cost reduction are anticipated. [The Dempa Shimbun (radio wave) Oct. 15, 2008]

2. Development of SOFC and DCFC
(1) Ritsumeikan University
@Prof. Yoshihara in Faculty of Science and Technology of Ritsumeikan University developed gas permeable porous solid electrolyte, and application to SOFC is intended. Because ion conductivity of SOFC is low in low temperature range, start up time to heat it to operating temperature is several hours and it is a task. Since the electrolyte is porous, rapid heating is possible by burning gas, and thus it can be started up within 5 - 30 seconds. Exhausted heat recovery is not necessary, and down sizing would be realized. Hereafter, because OH and O radical formed by burning are useful in decrease in activation polarization in cathodes. This possibility for power density increases by forming much above intermediate products. [The Chemical Daily Sept. 22, 2008]

(2) Tokyo Institute of Technology
@Prof. Ito, an associate professor of a research center on carbon circulation energy of the above institute, developed SOFC (probably DEFC) in which "dry hydrocarbon" is used directly as fuel, and he achieved power density of 0.26 W/cm2 by reducing electrode degradation due to carbon deposition. Solid hydrocarbon is used as fuel, so that a reformer is not needed and overall efficiency from well to wheel is estimated 44%. This is also used as "rechargeable direct carbon FC" because deposited carbon is used as fuel. Along with operating time, carbon deposits on fuel electrodes. However, small amount of proton conductor is added to fuel electrode by infiltration method. Highly active fuel electrodes are realized, and degradation due to carbon deposit can be controlled. Down sizing is possible and it can be used as portable power sources. Hereafter, pointing proton conductors, accelerated test of dry methane fuel will be made, aiming electrodes of less degradation and high power. [The Denki Shimbun (electricity) and The Chemical Daily Ssept. 25, 2008]
@Prof. Yashima, an associate professor of the above institute, developed technology to visualize oxide ion movement in oxide ion conductors of apatite type recently investigated. The development was done in collaboration with National Institute for Materials Science, Hyogo Prefectural Industrial Technology Center and Tohoku University. When the conductors are heated above 1500Ž to watch quick movement of oxide ions, the sample is irradiated by neutron and reflected neutron ray is analysed by a method based on information theory. Thus it can be done to watch that oxide ions migrate and diffuse. The path is different from simulation by quantum mechanics. [The Nikkei Sangyo Shimbun (economy and industry) Sept. 25, 2008]
@Prof. Ihara, an associate professor of the above institute, developed high-efficiency electrodes for DCFC directly converting fossil fuels like petroleum and methane to electric power. In conventional electrode, carbon deposits bringing degradation of performance and it was a task, but carbon deposit reduced at high power. The newly developed electrodes are made by adding strontium, cerium and yttrium to basic material of nickel etc. Power generation was tried by using this electrode and hydrocarbon, and power density of 0.42 W/cm2 was obtained. It is said that the electric efficiency can be increased to about 67%. Real use within 5 years is intended in collaboration with companies. [The Nikkei Sangyo Shimbun (economy and industry) Oct. 3, 2008]

(3) Hosokawa Powder Technology Research Institute
@On Oct. 8, 2008 JST announced that it has succeeded in "low temperature SOFC by surface structure control," and it was done by contract with the above company in Osaka city. Based on research by Prof. Noshiro and Prof. Naito of Osaka University, development was done for 3 years since 2006. To reduce production cost of the SOFC air electrode materials, unique technology of powder surface structure control was applied and SOFC operating at 700Ž was developed. The powder of air electrode was rotated in a specific rotating machine to load mechanical energy of compression and shear to the powder to make composite materials of new characteristics. By using these composite powders, highly active air electrode materials were made and production cost of cells was reduced by developing technology of co-sintering of air electrode and electrolyte continuously. Test was done using trial single cell, power density of over 0.4 W/cm2 was observed. The present achievement is low temperature SOFC operation together with cost reduction. It is thought to be a break through for real use. [The Chemical Daily Oct. 9, 2008, The Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun (business and technology) Oct. 10, 2008 and The Nikkei Sangyo Shimbun (economy and industry) Oct. 16, 2008]

3. PEFC Elementary Technologies Development
(1) Japan Atomic Energy Agency
@On Sept. 19, 2008 the agency announced that it has succeeded in development of polymer electrolyte membrane of high conductivity and high endurance under bad conditions of high temperature and/or low temperature for home use PEFC. Based on aromatic hydrocarbon polymer "polyether ether ketone (PEEK) film" of high strength, a method of "graft polymerization by two steps of heat and radiation" (combining thermal graft polymerization with radiation graft polymerization) was applied, and conductive film was obtained. Comparing conventional fluorocarbon membrane, the conductivity is 1.5 times higher and the membrane strength is 2.3 times higher. The membrane materials are inexpensive (below 1,000 yen/m2), and large cost down is also anticipated. In testing stable operation equivalent to 40,000 hours at 80Ž was achieved. It is confirmed that degradation does not occur in about 40% humidity. A chief researcher of the research group, Dr. Asano said "Research of membrane operating in low humidity is intended keeping present characteristics." [Jomo Shimbun Sept. 20, 2008, The Chemical Daily Sept. 22, 2008, The Denki Shimbun (electricity) Sept. 24, 2008, The Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun (business and technology) Oct. 3, 2008 and The Gensiryoku Sangyo Shimbun (nuclear industry) Oct. 9, 2008]

(2) National Institute for Advanced Industrial Science and Technology
@The institute developed new catalyst for automobile PEFC, which is hard to be degraded. This is substitute for carbon black for PEFC catalyst, and platinum is deposited to increase catalytic performance. It is spherical metal oxide of 100 - 500 nm diameter, and made by heating titanium oxide. By test of simulated automobile application, it was confirmed that catalyst made using the new materials increases time of operation by 6 times in comparison with conventional time of 5,000 hours. It is said that since the new materials are hard to be degraded the amount of platinum can be reduced. For real use the size must be decreased to below 1/5. [The Nikkei Sangyo Shimbun Sept. 22, 2008]

4. Demonstration and Business of Home Use PEFC
(1) Ebara group
@Ebara Corp. and Ebara Ballard Corp. announced that they begin shipping of home use FC "Enefarm" of improved system efficiency and easy operation. Using demonstration data for 3 years since 2005, Ebara group reduced electric consumption during start and stop and improved operating method following load in home, in addition to improvement in endurance and reliability. Furthermore, a touch panel for remote control and set in the kitchen was enlarged in its display area by two times. Width of FC unit becomes by 20 cm short, and the weight is reduced by 16%. The layout of units was changed for maintenance from the side, and installation space decreases by 40%. At their factory in Fujisawa city the group is now preparing mass production for real business since 2009 fiscal year, and annual production of 4,000 sets is possible at its maximum, they said.
@Ebara Corp. is going to deliver 1 kW class home use PEFC systems of town gas specification to Tokyo Gas Co., Ltd. for the large-scale demonstration, and it was developed in collaboration with Tokyo Gas Co., Ltd., Ballard Power Systems and Ebara Ballard Corp. The electric output, electric efficiency, heat recovery efficiency, operation time and endurance are respectively 300 - 1,000 W, 37%, 53%, 40,000 hours and 4,000 times start and stop. [The Denki Shimbun (electricity), The Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun (business and technology), The Chemical Daily Sept. 26, 2008, The Nikkei Sangyo Shimbun (economy and industry) and The Dempa Shimbun (radio wave) Sept. 29, 2008]

(2) Nippon Oil Corp.
@In 2010 fiscal year the company will start overall business of energy equipments at more than 100 special agencies. In 2010 the company will commercialize energy systems of optimized efficiency by combining home use FC, solar cells, high efficiency hot water suppliers, heating etc. in a "home energy creation" project. It is going to start educational program to the special agencies in the end of 2008 fiscal year. Among 630 companies having contract in oil goods, about 100 agencies were selected considering installation and maintenance ability as well as experience in the large-scale demonstration. After that 200 agencies will be selected furthermore, and the activities will be expanded. In addition to sales know-how, the personnel will learn installation and maintenance. Certification is under consideration. At the same time the company is planning to open windows for customers' consultation and to expand technical supports in branches. [The Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun (business and technology) Oct. 2, 2008]
@In accordance with start of real sale of home use PEFC systems in 2009 fiscal year, the above company was supplying only to Osaka Gas Co., Ltd., but it decided to expand it to other town gas companies, and negotiation is now proceeding with several companies. Similar demands are raised by medium and small-scale gas suppliers, because they are competing with all electrification. They company intend to fulfill the demand. [The Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun (business and technology) Oct. 117, 2008]

(3) Izumi Propane Co., ltd.
@The company in Kurume city, Fukuoka prefecture starts demonstration of hybrid home use energy system combining PEFC of LPG specification and solar cells. They are installed at a detached residential house, and data of power generated etc. are gathered. Research is being made for method of efficient FC operation as well as observation of solar cells operation. The company anticipates that FC will be really propagated, if the price become below 500,000 yen/kW. The company is also selling energy systems combining solar cells and FC earnestly, and total 300 sets of solar cells have been already sold. [The Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun Oct. 9, 2008]

(4) Hokkaido Gas Co., Ltd.
@On Oct. 8, 2008 Mr. Otsuki, the president of the above company, stated that home use and natural gas fueled PEFC of cold climate specification will be sold to general homes in Hokkaido since 2010 fiscal year. The company has been developing this type of PEFC with Panasonic Corp. and Ebara Ballard Corp. From 2005 to 2007 fiscal year the company installed 23 PEFC systems of natural gas specification at homes in Sapporo city and has been gathering operation data. [The Hokkaido Shimbun Oct. 9, 2008]

(5) Fukuoka Hydrogen Energy Strategic Congress
@This congress consisting of Nippon Oil Corp., Fukuoka Prefecture etc. started demonstration of "Fukuoka Hydrogen Town" in Maebara city, Fukuoka prefecture. "Fukuoka Hydrogen Town" is an experiment made by Nippon Oil Corp. and Saibu Gas Energy Co., Ltd. in cooperation. Home use FC's of LPG specification were installed at 150 homes in Maebara city, and the demonstration is going to be made for 4 years. In a ceremony of the first home use PEFC system, the governor, Mr. Asou, and about 70 persons from industrial, academic and governmental sectors attended.. [The Nishinihon Shimbun Oct. 11, 2008, The Denki Shimbun (electricity) Oct. 15, 2008 and The Nikkei Sangyo Shimbun (economy and industry) Oct. 20, 2008]

5. FCV Forefront
(1) Iwatani Corp.
@On Oct. 1, 2008 the company held a ceremony of delivery of "Toyota FCHV adv" purchased from Toyota Motors Corp. The company is using FCV leased by Toyota Motor Corp since 2003. This is the third model. [The Nikkan Jidosha Shimbun (automobile) Oct. 2, 2008 and The Chemical Daily Oct. 3, 2008]

(2) Daimler
@In a press conference in Tokyo, a vice-president of the company announced that the company is going to start mass production and lease of FCV in 2010. A HV "Mercedes Benz S400" will also be sold in 2009. It was also announced that PHV, the range of which is extended by charging during stop, would be really used within 5 years. Demonstration of FCV has been made since 2003, and it is installed in compact cars. In the first stage several hundreds PHV would be produced annually. They would be sold mainly to European companies, and then it would be expanded to other markets. [The Yomiuri Shimbun, The Nikkan Jidosha Shimbun (automobile) Oct. 8, 2008]

(3) Japan Research Group of Ship Technology
@The above research group will expand R&D of transport of hydrogen gas FCV by automobile carrier ships (PCC). At present FCV without hydrogen are transported as non-dangerous matters in containers, and it is costly. It is anticipated from present trend that revision of related treaties and regulations would be necessary in 2012. [The Nihon Kaiji Shimbun ( maritime affairs) Oct. 9, 2008]

6. Development and Business of Hydrogen Station
@In relation with "Hydrogen Highway" concept by Fukuoka Prefecture, which connects Fukuoka city and Kitakyushu city (about 80 km distance) with test operation of FCV and hydrogen engine vehicles, Mr. Aso, the governor of Fukuoka Prefecture announced in a regular press conference on Oct. 15 2008 that hydrogen stations (one station in each city) would be constructed from summer to fall in 2009 fiscal year and operation of the stations would be started soon after completion. The stations will be operated by a joint venture of companies, universities etc., and half of construction cost of about 200 million yen per one station will be subsidized by the Prefecture. In Fukuoka city a hydrogen station by water electrolysis will be installed at Ito campus of Kyushu University, and its operation will be started in September of 2009. In Kitakyushu city a hydrogen station will be installed at a gas station of Nippon Oil Corp., and its operation is planned to start in June of 2009. To the latter station by-product hydrogen in iron production line will be supplied with pipes. [The Nishinihon Shimbun Oct. 16, 2008]
7. Technology Development Related with Hydrogen Transport and Storage
@Nippon Synthetic Chemical Industry Co., Ltd. developed new vinyl resin with which permeation of oxygen and hydrogen can be reduced. It is anticipated to use it for pipelines of hydrogen in FC etc. The resin developed newly is "G polymer" made from vinyl acetate as materials. In usual vinyl resin alcohol molecules are connected with molecular chain. In the new resin alcohol molecules are increased by adding additives, and it reduces permeation of oxygen and hydrogen. Comparing with conventional ones, hydrogen permeation becomes about 1/20 and oxygen permeation is about 1/200. By spring of 2009 a new facility of 300 tons annual production will be newly constructed at Kumamoto factory. Then mass-production system of 2,000 tons annual production will be built in Kumamoto factory and Mizushima factory (Kurashiki city). [The Nikkkei Sangyo Shimbun (economy and industry), The Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun (business and technology) and The Chemical Daily Oct. 17, 2008]

8. Development of Portable FC
(1) Aqua Fairy and NTT DoCoMo
@VB Aqua Fairy in Kyoto city, which has been developing portable PEFC for portable phones with NTT DoCoMo, developed palm-size FC. Though the trial product is small; about 10 cm3 in volume and about 8 g in weight, it supplies about 1.5 W power. Reagent producing hydrogen (details are not published.) and water is contained in a cartridge and hydrogen is supplied from the cartridge attached to FC. Hydrogen production rate depends on water penetration and discharging time, so that the power is also changed. To avoid this a specific electronics circuit was developed for stabilizing the power. For enough supply of hydrogen to the cells, hydrogen channels were cut in the cells, and thus the power density per electrode area increases up to 150 mW/cm2. For commercialization NTT DoCoMo started technological development based on this results by Aqua Fairy, and it will first make development of a charger for portable phones, technological standards of which are not high. [The Nikkei Sangyo Shimbun (economy and industry) Sept. 18, 2008]
@Aqua Fairy developed micro FC to be used as a charger of portable equipments like game machines. Technology was established for mass production of 250,000 sets monthly at the price of several thousands yen, and sample shipping is planned to begin in April of 2009. The newly developed FC charging system is 5.5 cm deep, 4 cm wide and 0.9 cm high, the weight being 20 g. The output voltage and charging capacity are respectively 5 V and 5 Wh. It can charges portable game machines, like Nintendo DS, once (about 2 hours). [The Asahi Shimbun, The Mainichi Shimbun, The Sankei Shimbun, The Kyoto Shimbun Oct. 17, 2008 and The Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun (business and technology9 Oct. 20, 2008)

(2) Toshiba Corp.
@An international trade fair of electric machines and IT, "CEATEC Japan 2008" began on Sept. 30, 2008 at Makuhari Messe, and Toshiba Corp. exhibited new secondary batteries which are rechargeable 90% in 10 min. and DMFC installed portable phones. Trial products of DMFC installed in portable phones are hybrid types with lithium ion batteries. When the lithium battery discharged, DMFC works to charge the battery. Thus discharging duration of the hybrid becomes twice compared with the battery. The size is 113 X 54 X 175 mm. Concentration of methanol is 99.5%. The cartridge of 50 mL capacity was developed with Toyo Can Co., Ltd. and it can be used for about 15 times charges. [The Dempa Shimbun (radio wave) Sept. 30, 2008, The Nihon Keizai Shimbun, The Nikkei Sangyo Shimbun (economy and industry), The Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun (business and technology) Oct. 1, 2008 and The Chemical Daily Oct. 3, 2008]

(3) ST Microelectronics
@An Italy - France joint venture, ST Microelectronics, commercializes hydrogen PEFC (estimation) for charging portable phones. Already trial products were made with 150 mm wafers, and at present the output is 1 - 2 W, aiming at 2.5 W in the mass production. The size of the trail one is 40 cm2, but it is planned that the size will be half (20 cm2) and the thickness will be 0.4 cm, the volume being 8 cm3. A low pressure hydrogen cartridge is under development with a partner company, and the cartridge will be available at convenience stores. [The Chemical Daily Oct. 9, 2008]

(4) Panasonic
@Panasonic developed DMFC for notebook type personal computers, and the size is almost the same as a lithium ion battery pack. The volume of the newly developed FC is 270 cc, and high concentration methanol is used as fuel at working temperature of 50oC for about 5 hours. It is inserted into the bottom of the computer. The price is not yet determined. The company will continue the R&D to reduce exhausted heat, and the cost reduction will be also aimed by reducing platinum consumption, increasing the efficiency etc. [The Nihon Keizai Shimbun Oct. 20, 2008]

9. Development and Business of Metrological Technology Related with FC and Hydrogen
@Yamatake Co., Ltd. added "Hydrogen micro flow model" for hydrogen and helium to a line-up of "Digital mass flow controller CMQV series of micro flow model." The company started sales on September 22, 2008. It is for need to control hydrogen flow rate in a range from 0.2 - 50 mL/min. The price is 230,000 yen per one set, and annual sales of 1000 sets after 3 years are forecasted. [The Kensetsu Kogyo Shimbun (construction) Sept. 22, 2008, The Denki Shimbun (electricity) Sept. 24, 2008, The Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun (business andtechnology), The Chemical daily Sept. 25, 2008 and The Kensetsu Tsushin Shimbun Oct. 6, 2008]

10. Business Deployments by Companies
(1) Hydrogenics
@The above company in Canada aims at business in Japanese market of FC for small vehicles like Forklifts. It will supply PEFC for forklifts to Toyota Industries Corp. The endurance of this unit is15,000 - 20,000 hours, and hydrogen charge is finished within several minuets, so that it is one of characteristic points that time needed to charge FC is short. The company is mainly concentrated in development of FC and water electrolysis plants, and it concentrated in FC for non-automobiles. In Forklifts business the company has top accomplishment in the world. [The Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun (business and technology) Sept. 26, 2008 and The Chemical Daily Oct. 2, 2008]

(2) Nisshinbo Industry Corp.
@The company announced that it is going to expand production lines of PEFC separators of carbon by five steps, and its total investment would be about 6 billion yen. After completion of a new factory in Chiba city in March of 2010, total about 2.5 billion yen would be invested in steps for 5 years from 2010 - 2014, and facilities for separators equivalent to PEFC 300,000 sets would be constructed. [The Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun (business and technology) Oct. 6, 2008]

(3) Panasonic Corp.
@On Oct. 18, 2008 the above company announced that it has a policy to start sales of "Hybrid circuit system" in 2009 fiscal years, and the system is for coping to both of AC from the grid and DC from solar cells and FC. It is the purpose to reduce loss in conversion between AC and DC. [The Sankei Shimbun Oct. 6, 2008]

------------ This edition is made up of October 20, 2008. ---------------