(1) Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry
To promote R&D investments for new technologies in environment and medicine, the ministry decided to introduce reward type subsidiary since 2009 fiscal year. Defining clearly R&D task and goal in advance for energy serving equipments etc., subsidiaries will be given, when the goal is achieved. When real use is realized, subsidiaries will be given furthermore. First the concrete goal and subsidiary are clearly defined, for instances, for "Development of FC with 30% reduced platinum" and "Development of desalination system of pool water." The participants achieving the goal will get equally the subsidiaries. Furthermore, if it can be really used, the subsidiaries would be increased about twice. Total subsidiary claimed for 2009 fiscal year budget is 350 million yen, and three tasks and goals would be defined. [The Mainichi Shimbun Oct. 26, 2008]
The subcommittee for policies in the overall investigation committee of natural resources and energy had the first meeting on Oct. 27, 2008 and begins to review and examine law for petroleum alternative energy promotion. [The Denki Shimbun (electricity) Oct. 28, 2008]
(2) Ministry of Land, Transport and Infrastructure
On Oct. 29, 2008 the ministry decided to include repairing of used buildings for energy saving in additional economy policies to be decided by the government and the ruling parties. If the owners of office buildings and commercial buildings wish to repair these buildings and if it could be recognized to be energy efficient using for instances "highly efficient heat pump" and "FC systems," half of the cost would be subsidized. [The Sankei Shimbun Oct. 30, 2008]
The ministry decided "the second model businesses for promoting low CO２ emission houses and buildings in 2008." The new detached houses businesses recognized as an advanced model of low CO２ emission are "Kyoto low CO２ emission houses promotion project" by a Kyoto local construction company in Kyoto research group for energy saving residence (represented by Osaka Gas Co., Ltd.), "Solar energy passive and active utilization plus idea sharing among residents for low CO２ emission by wooden houses using domestic wood products" by Sumitomo Forestry Co., Ltd., "Energy ECO management system for houses and towns" by PanaHome Corp. etc. The last example is a project to introduce solar cells and FC, and furthermore introduction of energy saving system coping to these equipments. [The Dempa Shimbun (radio wave) Nov. 17, 2008]
2. Policies by Local Governments
(1) Yamanashi Prefecture
On Nov. 19, 2008 Yamanashi Prefecture decided requirement of 53 items for policies and budget of national government in 2009 fiscal year. It consists of 20 important items and 33 general items. In relation with incubation and support of FC related industry, incubation and support of researching personnel and small and medium firms are claimed to the Ministry of Education, Science, Culture and Sport, in addition to support of "FC nano-materials research center" established in Yamanashi University. [The Yamanashi Nichinichi Shimbun Nov. 20, 2008]
(2) Shizuoka Prefecture
On Nov. 21, 2008 Shizuoka Prefecture announced that it is going to introduce a wheelchair driven with DMFC at Hamanako Garden Park in Hamamatsu city by lease. It is now under development by Suzuki Motor Corp. It will be used for disabled persons and aged persons in the garden park for promotion of new energy. The wheelchair was exhibited in international welfare exhibitions in 2007 and 2006, and it has been further developed for real use as FC senior car "MIO." It will be introduced in cooperative demonstration between the prefecture and the company, which will gather the data for further development. By full charge of 4 L methanol it can run about 60 km, which is about twice compared with those by rechargeable batteries. The maximum speed is 6 km/h. [The Shizuoka Shimbun Nov. 22, 2008, The Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun (business and technology) Nov. 24, 2008 and The Nikkan Jidosha Shimbun (automobile) Nov. 25, 2008]
3. PEFC Elementary Technologies Development
(1) Japan Advanced Institute of Science and Technology
Prof. Terakura and his research group in the above university examined movement of catalyst carbon molecules in PEFC by simulation, and thus they elucidated reason why it acts as catalyst. They investigated the catalytic mechanism, by which carbon plays a role of catalyst in three-dimensional structure of "carbon alloy" developed by Gumma University. They used "the first principle calculation" to calculate material performance and structure in nano-meter level, and reproduced catalytic behavior of each carbon and nitrogen atoms by simulation. As a result, it is made clear that when nitrogen atom is at the end of zigzag structure of carbon, carbon in its periphery is activated and reacts as catalyst. Expensive platinum is not in carbon alloy, so that it leads to cost down of PEFC. Because its mechanism was elucidated, it becomes possible to improve it to real use level. They are improving the catalyst and aiming at realization of PEFC without platinum. [The Nikkei Sangyo Shimbun (economy and industry) Oct. 22, 2008]
An American research team in MIT succeeded in observation of atomic structure of catalysts in FC. Fine structure of catalysts made of platinum and cobalt was observed, and it provides us with hints to improve production technology and performance, they expected. Observed catalysts are in layer structure of platinum atoms and cobalt atoms, and properly treated catalysts are covered by platinum layers. [The Nikkei Sangyo Shimbun (economy and industry) Nov. 5, 2008]
(3) Tokyo University and Gumma University
Prof. Ojima of Tokyo University, Prof. Ozaki of Gumma University and their research group developed catalysts for PEFC electrodes without platinum and they made clear the mechanism. Materials for the catalysts are polymer with iron and cobalt and shell-like form (nano-shell) materials. Prof. Ozaki named "carbon nano-shell." Fine carbon structure has catalytic activities, and the performance was improved by addition of boron and nitrogen. Recently they added 1% nitrogen to it and electric generation performance was increased by bending. The catalysts were observed by synchrotron orbital resonance, and they found that when nitrogen is at the end of zigzag structure, their activities are improved. The results are in agreement with theoretical investigation. This catalyst is still inferior to platinum, but by adding more nitrogen, the performance would be improved to 2 - 10 times better than platinum, they anticipated. Platinum tends to be dissolved and deposit in the electrolyte, but the new catalysts do not degrade, so that their life is long. In "R&D of carbon alloy catalysts for PEFC" project promoted by NEDO, the project leader, Prof. Miyata and Prof. Terashima of Hokuriku University of Advanced Science and Technology join the team. [The Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun (business and technology) Nov. 18, 2008]
(4) Yokohama City University and IHI
Prof. Tachibana and IHI (Ishikwajima Harima Heavy Industry Corp.) succeeded in structure analysis of carbon nano-wall (CNW) by X-ray diffraction. Similarly with carbon nano-tube (CNT), CNW is carbon material of nano-size. While CNT is uniform tubes, CNW is consisting of crystal sheets, which is perpendicular to the base plate. It is elucidated that in the beginning of the crystal growth, carbon deposits parallel on the base plate, then it grows perpendicularly to the plate. Because the growth mechanism of CNW was made clear, they are intending to develop technology to control size and growth rate of crystallites of graphite type. Information necessary for real use is also being gathered. Since catalyst is not used in production, it has an advantage that it does not contain metallic impurities. It is anticipated that it would be applied to FC, thin display and hydrogen storage materials, by using its characteristics of field emission. [The Chemical Daily Nov. 25, 2008]
4. Home Use FC Business
(1) Tokyo Gas Co., Ltd.
On Oct. 30, 2008 the company announced that the new fee for home use FC would be applied since April 1, 2009. "Eco-plan of electric generation by Enefarm" is the lowest rate, and when it is applied with a bath heater-and-drier and a floor heating by hot water using gas, The payment for gas and electricity for standard home is estimated to be annually 50 - 60 thousands yen. Conventionally a contract of 3 years is applied to the participants of the national large-scale demonstration, and it is by 3% discount with upper limit of monthly payment of 9,500 yen. Since it is limited within 3 years, a new fee is introduced. The customers to be applied this new contract are those whose contract of the demonstration of 3 years is completed and those who will use new FC after April of 2009. [The Denki Shimbun (electricity) Nov. 4, 2008, The Dempa Shimbun (radio wave) Nov. 5, 2008 and The Chemical Daily Nov. 6, 2008]
(2) Sekisui House Ltd.
The above company in Osaka city moved "Zero Emission House," which was displayed at Toyako G8 Summit, to "Zero Emission Center" at its Kanto factory in Koga city of Ibaraki prefecture. It is going to be open to public since 28 as Ibaraki Prefecture Next Generation Energy Park. It is a future residence in which Japanese most advanced energy and environmental technologies are concentrated, such as large-scale solar cells, home use FC, glass windows of high thermal insulation, highly efficient illumination, energy saving electric appliances etc., for coping to global warming. The company opens its activities to reduce total CO2 emission in a life cycle since construction through living to scrap by combining recent energy saving and creating technologies. [The Denki Shimbun (electricity) Nov. 21, 2008, The Yomiuri Shimbun Nov. 24, 2008 and The Jutaku Shimpo (residence) Nov. 25, 2008]
5. FCV Forefront
(1) GM Japanese subsidiary
The above juridical person of GM in Japan open to public its two vehicles, FCV "Chevrilet Equinox" and a hybrid "Tahoe Hybrid" being sold in US, on Nov. 10, 2008 first in Japan. The Equinoxes are now leased to VIPs in governments in US, Europe and China, and information for commercialization is now being gathered. The FCV can run about 320 km by one charge, and the maximum speed is 160 km/h. Hydrogen charging time is less than 5 minutes, and it can start below 0oC. The president, Mr. Brown said that R&D of FCV and HEV, which are now being developed by cooperation with Suzuki Motor Co., Ltd., are not delayed in spite of the present financial crisis. He denied cancellation of this cooperation. Furthermore he told that EV "Bolt" would be sold in Japanese market since 2012, while it will start its production in 2010. Mr. Hansen, the director of Asia-Oceania area in FC business division, said that they are confident in reduction of platinum below present amount for reducing air pollution. [The Yomiuri Shimbun, The Mainichi Shimbun, The Nihon Keizai Shimbun, The Nikkei Sangyo Shimbun (economy and industry), The Nikkan Jidosha Shimbun (automobile), The Tokyo Shimbun, The Chunichi Shimbun, The Fuji Sankei Business Eye Nov. 11, 2008 and The Chugoku Shimbun Nov. 12, 2008]
(2) Nissan Motor Corp.
On Nov. 14, 2008 the company held a trial driving meeting in front of Showakan before Tochigi prefecture office for PR Of FCV "Extrail." Nikko City is going to purchase the FCV of this type since December of 2008 by lease of 420,000 yen per month. [The Shimotsuke Shimbun Nov. 11, 2008]
(3) Honda Motor Co., Ltd.
At a motor show in Los Angels, US, the company exhibited an FCV concept model "Honda FC Sport." They accepted FC stacks featured by small size and light weight and got freedom in designing. The driver's seat was put in the center, and the stacks were installed between rear two passengers' seats, while batteries were in lower part, so that the center of gravity is very low. [The Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun (business and technology) Nov. 21, 2008]
The above company in Sendai city developed a small FCV of hydrogen production type. The FCV can run on public roads, and it can run for 1 hour at the speed of 30 km/h. Hydrogen is obtained by chemical reaction of specific water (solvent) with aluminum, and using 1 g of aluminum 1.24 L of hydrogen is obtained. Aluminum hydroxide is formed by the reaction, and it is reusable by reduction. It can be recycled also by sintering to form alumina. Batteries are installed in this FCV, and it can run during charging the batteries. Inquiries are increasing as power sources for emergency as well as power sources in agriculture and fishery. [The Dempa Shimbun (radio wave) Nov. 25, 2008
6. Technology Development of Hydrogen Production and Purification
Wakasa Bay Energy Research Center of Tsuruga City succeeded in large-scale production of high purity hydrogen by reaction of iron and water. Mr. Niimiya, the director of the center, and R&D group for heat utilization made fibrous iron of 3 micron m diameter by heating fine iron oxide powder with char coal powder at 950oC for 1 hour. By immersing this fibrous iron into water it reacts with water to form hydrogen, and 38 L hydrogen was formed from iron of 100 g. The iron oxide formed by reaction with water can be used to form hydrogen by reaction with char coal powder. For the heat source a solar furnace concentrating solar light was used, and the solar furnace was developed by the center. [The Fukui Shimbun Nov. 20, 2008]
7. Technology Development of Hydrogen Transport and Storage
(1) Japan Atomic Energy Agency
The above institute announced on Oct.. 20, 2008 that it has succeeded in a new synthetic method of direct reaction of aluminum and hydrogen to form "aluminum hydride (LiH3)," which is thought promising for hydrogen storage materials. By using the fact that hydrogen becomes very reactive liquid by heating at about 600oC under 90,000 atmospheres, hydrogen is impregnated into aluminum. Observing it with large-scale synchrotron orbital resonance facility, "Spring 8," it was found that inside of aluminum became hydride. It is said that hydrogen becomes highly reactive liquid and it removes oxide thin film on the surface of aluminum. [The Denki Shimbun (electricity), The Nikkei Sangyo Shimbun (economy and industry) Oct. 21, 2008 and The Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun (business and technology) Oct. 24, 2008]
(2) Nippon Oil Corp.
To transport hydrogen efficiently from a factory to a hydrogen station for FCV, the company is going to develop a container for compressing and transporting it at high pressure. Carbon fibers coated with special resin are used. The inner pressure is increased to over 40 MPa to transport more hydrogen. Furthermore, in the inside of the container hydrogen absorbing materials will be filled. To do this, they starts research on complex, in which metallic atoms are contained. They are intending to develop chemical reaction and materials, which hydrogen molecules impregnate at high pressure and release it to the outside at low pressure. A new container like this would make it possible to carry about 900 kg of hydrogen (equivalent to 300 FCV), and it is 5 times larger than conventional ones. The company will make also research of hydrogen transport with organic hydrides in parallel. [The Nikkei Sangyo Shimbun Nov. 19, 2008]
8. Business for Construction of Hydrogen Infrastructure
(1) Hrein Energy, Ltd.
On Oct. 21, 2008 the above company in Sapporo city announced that it made contract with Process Innovation Center, PIC, (England) on cooperative promotion of hydrogen infrastructure project. They will make energy supplying systems to hydrogen vehicles and FCV in UK and EU area. The company has technologies to produce hydrogen using renewable energy such as wind and to store it as organic hydride like toluene. It intends to apply these technologies to hydrogen infrastructure. [The Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun (business and technology) Oct. 22, 2008 and The Nikkei Sangyo Shimbun (economy and industry) Oct. 23, 2008]
(2) Air Water Inc.
The company, one of large companies dealing with industrial gases, begins to strengthen hydrogen supplying business. It will promote propagation of a very small hydrogen producing equipment "VH" (trade name), in which they use new catalyst technology established by Prof. Emeritus Inui of Kyoto University (catalyst chemistry specialist). They also start examination of real use of equipments specified to hydrogen station. They are also active in on-site business. On these bases they intend to increase sales of hydrogen related business (about 8 billion yen) by 20%. [The Chemical Daily Nov. 14, 2008]
9. Metrological Technology Related with FC and Hydrogen
(1) Japan Eco-sensor Co.
The company developed a sensor to measure accurately DC from solar cells, FC and batteries. The sensor is doughnut like shape and a coil is wounded on ring filled with magnetic fluid. By measuring magnetic field by the current, the DC current is measured. Magnetic sensors are predominantly used at present, but magnetic field remains due to iron alloys used in the sensors, and it is an unsolved task. By using magnetic fluid accurate measurement to mA order becomes possible. Comparing with AC, we do not have accurate measurement technology for DC. For instance lithium ion batteries can not be charged over 70% because of firing due to over-charge. [The Nihon Keizai Shimbun Nov. 12, 2008]
(2) Yamatake, Inc.
The company announced that it was going to sell a mass flow sensor "MCS200" since Nov. 18. Comparing with the conventional sensors, the new equipment is small (1/3) and light (1/2), and high accuracy and high reproducibility are realized. Conventional screw joint is replaced by manifold joint, so that more efficient setting becomes possible. Making use of these points, mobile head mechanism made small and light, and they bring us high speed. The diameter for flow is adjusted by measuring range so that the accuracy was improved. In addition to driving voltage of DC 14 V, operation by DC 5 V becomes possible. Thus they proposed usage to FC for personal computers and mobile phones. The sample price is 20,000 yen and they intend to sell 200,000 after 3 years. [The Chemical Daily Nov. 10, 2008]
10. Firm Activities and Business Deployment
Fuji Electric Systems Corp. was going to establish "FC Manufacturing Preparation Section" on Nov. 1. At the beginning the section consists of personnel, who were in charge of development in the subsidiary company, Fuji Advanced Technology Corp., and those in charge of commercialization in Fuji Electric Systems Corp. concurrently. They arrange for real set up in 2009 fiscal year. Now Fuji Electric Corp. is making development of 100 kW class PAFC and 1 kW class PAFC, and till now 24 sets of PAFC had been delivered. [The Nikkei Sangyo Shimbun Oct. 31, 2008]
------------ This edition is made up as of November 25, 2008. ---------------