`High-Efficiency Micro-SOFC Modules`

Arranged by T. Homma
1. National Policies
2. Local Government Policies
3. SOFC Development Results
4. PEFC Elementary Technologies Development
5. Home Use PEFC Business
6. FCV Forefront
7. Metrological Technology Related with FC and Hydrogen
8. Micro-FC Development for Portable and Mobile Equipment
9. Development Results of Bio-FC
10. Business Deployment of Firms
11. Trend in FC Introduction to Market

1. National Policies
@For free trade of environment-related goods, such as next generation vehicles and FC, Japanese government decided a policy that it is going to claim large reduction and/or abolition of tariffs and to make an original proposition in many-sided trade negotiation of WTO (Doha round). In WTO informal meeting to be held in Davos on Jan. 31, 2009, Mr. Nikai, the Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry, was going to talk the proposition. The goods examined in the ministry are ten and several items, such as next generation vehicles, home use FC, solar cells including solar cell generating systems and LED illumination. [The Nihon Keizai Shimbun Jan. 31, 2009 and Feb. 1, 2009]
@The government is going to introduce a new R&D system in 2009 fiscal year, and in the new system, rewards will be given for success. The concrete high-priority themes will be decided for applicable technology to urgent realization in medical and environmental technology, which are essential as policies. Rewards for succeeding researchers total 250 million yen is prepared, and practice like rewarding will be done by NEDO. [The Nihon Keizai Shimbun Feb. 2, 2009]
@The Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry is now making the fourth program of science and technology in a committee on industrial structure. In these R&D policies for medium and long term, energy was one of 8 strategic items, but priority is given to "energy" and discussion will be made to increase investment. [The Chemical Daily Feb. 9, 2009]

2. Policies by Local Governments
(1) Aichi Prefecture
@On Feb. 7, 2009 Aichi Prefecture was going to start operation of "Aichi Airport-Side New Energy Demonstrative Research Area," which was constructed on the opposite seaside of the airport in Tokonami city. The area is consisting of demonstration facilities of companies and a museum for experience of new energy. The following demonstrative research is going to be carried out; light-concentrating solar cell power generation plant by Daido Steel Co., Ltd., anti salt damage endurance test of home use FC by Toho Gas Co., Ltd., endurance of PEFC by using small-FC driven vehicles for demonstration plus development of hybrid system by Daido Metal Co., Ltd., and power generation with Stirling engines using biomass by Chubu Electric Power Co., Ltd. (still under preparation and to be started in 2009 fiscal year.). [The Chunichi Shimbun Jan. 24, 2009, The Kensetsu Tsushin Shimbun (construction) Jan. 26, 2009, The Chunichi Shimbun Feb. 8, 2009 and The Denki Shimbun (electricity) Feb. 10, 2009]

(2) Fukuoka Prefecture
@Fukuoka hydrogen energy strategy congress was going to start "auxiliary research group" on Jan. 28 to promote for medium, small and venture firms to enter auxiliary business of home use FC. In order to expand really home use FC market, cost reduction of auxiliaries such as air blowers and pumps is essential. To incubate newcomer firms the auxiliary research group will provide them with information and technical guidance by coordinators from governments, universities and industries. [The Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun (business and technology) Jan. 27, 2009] In 2009 fiscal year Fukuoka Prefecture will carry out "Kita Kyushu hydrogen town" activity in Higashida, Yawata ward, Kita Kyushu city, and hydrogen stations will be installed in several ten sites such as convenience stores and restaurants. It is intended that "Kita Kyushu general energy station" will be constructed with hydrogen cars and bikes. Thus the area will become a model of "Hydrogen Energy Society." The hydrogen town will use partly annual production of about 500 million m3 by-product hydrogen from coke furnaces in Yahata steel producing factory of Nippon Steel Corp. From the factory hydrogen will be supplied with pipes to the station and it will be distributed with pipes. The cost is about 200 million yen and 50 million yen is included in the budget of the prefecture. Furthermore, 100 million yen from the central government is expected and investment by companies is also expected. [The Nishinihon Shimbun Feb. 7, 2009. The Kensetsu Tsushin Shimbun (construction) Feb. 10, 2009 and The Nikkei Sangyo Shimbun (economy and industry) Feb. 12, 2009]
@On Feb. 12, 2009 the prefecture formally announced in a committee meeting of the council that the prefecture is going to establish "Hydrogen Energy Products Research and Testing Center." In the center testing will be made for hydrogen related products by medium, small and venture firms, and it will be constructed in "Maebara IC South Area Research Park." In March of 2010 it will be completed and products for hydrogen like valves, pipes and sensors for FC will be tested in relation with endurance and pressure. The total budget is about 1.5 billion yen. [The Nishinihon Shimbun Feb. 13, 2009]

3. SOFC Development Results
@On Feb. 12, 2009 National Research Institute for Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (advanced manufacturing process research division) announced that in collaboration with NGK Spark Plug Co., Ltd. they developed micro-SOFC modules, which are operated in the low temperature range from 450Ž to 550Ž. For home use dispersed power sources and auxiliary power sources of cars, quick start and stop are necessary, and this development brings us these usages of SOFC. They manufactured in trial SOFC of 1cm square, and using hydrogen at 550Ž they observed 2 W/cm3 power density. It is possible to supply air into porous cells by natural diffusion, so that power to supply air becomes unnecessary. Thus drastic increase in efficiency and downsizing of the system can be made. Application to small mobile electronic devices can also be anticipated. Hereafter they are planning demonstration of performances, and realization of high power and high efficiency power sources is aimed at. [The Denki Shimbun (electricity), The Nikkei Sangyo Shimbun (economy and industry), The Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun (business and technology) Feb. 13, 2009 and The Fuji Sankei Business Eye Feb. 20, 2009]

4. PEFC Elementary Technologies Development
(1) National Research Institute for Advanced Industrial Science and Technology
The above institute developed catalytic material, which is less degradable in performance by devising platinum structure, and three times increase of endurance time was observed. They have been improving the material and aiming at real use to FCV, looking for chance for collaboration with firms. Many micro-pores of 7 - 8 nm diameter are made on spherical carbon black of 100 - 150 nm diameter, and platinum fine powder of about 2 nm diameter is attached. By making many uniform pores, surface area of platinum is increased and platinum powder penetrates easily into carbon black. Thus performance of platinum is improved. Observing potential change and making performance test, three times longer endurance was confirmed. while amount of platinum was reduced. [The Nikkei Sangyo Shimbun (economy and industry) Jan. 29, 2009]

(2) Hiroshima Prefecural Seibu Industrial Technology Center and Toda Kogyo Corp.
@The above center in Kure city and the magnetic powder producing company in Otake city are developing nickel catalyst in cooperation. Nickel is crashed to nm size and spheres of 3 mm diameter are made of nickel and other metals. Then it is used as catalyst. In demonstration no change was confirmed in the performance after 200,000 hour endurance test. Hereafter experiment by changing gas flow rate and shortening initial time for hydrogen production will be tried. They are aiming at real use after 2 years. [The Chugoku Shimbun Jan. 30, 2009]

(3) Tokyo University of Agriculture and Technology
@Prof. Nagai and his research group in the above university developed cathode catalyst without platinum. Main materials are relatively inexpensive cobalt and tungsten, and by adding nitrogen they succeeded in improvement of catalyst performance. Observing catalyst characteristics they found 15% of catalytic activity compared with platinum. Hereafter they will assemble FC using the new catalyst, and performance and endurance will be observed, trying to improve them. [The Nikkei Sangyo Shimbun (economy and industry) Feb. 4, 2009]

(4) Tokyo University of Science
@Prof. Kuwano (an associate professor), Prof. Saito (an assistant professor) and their co-workers in the above university developed new catalyst, which could replace platinum. Nano-sheet of oxides of manganese and titanium was made by ion exchange, and it was found that characteristics of oxidation and reduction are improved by chemical coagulation. The characteristics do not change, when it is attached on polymer electrolyte, so that this catalyst can be expected as platinum substitute. The nano-sheet is compound of layer structure, and it is a sheet of unit cell of about 1 nm thick and several micron m wide. Solution containing titanic acid the nano-sheet was made, and oxonium (H3O+) was added. Thus obtained coagulation was used as catalyst and the characteristics for oxidation and reduction were investigated. Two electrons involving reduction was investigated and it was found that the new catalyst has the same performance as platinum. Re-coagulated substance was assembled in cells of alkali membrane FC, and observed output characteristics are similar to those of platinum, though it is a little bit inferior to platinum. Re-coagulated substance is not layer structure and randomly piled-up structure provides with pores of various size. It is thought that this structure brings improvement in oxidation - reduction characteristics. [The Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun (business and technology) Feb. 18, 2009]

5. Home Use PEFC Business
(1) 4 town gas companies, Nippon Oil Corp., and Astomos Energy Corp.
@On Jan. 28, 2009 six companies consisting 4 town gas companies (Tokyo, Osaka, Toho and Saibu) and the above two other companies begin sales of commercial home use FC "Enefarm" since May 1, 2009 at the price of about 3 million yen. On the same day the above 6 companies launched a ceremony at a hotel in Tokyo, and the presidents of the 6 companies signed joint declaration "Enefarm for environment oriented Japan" stating cooperative action for promotion of home use FC propagation. Mr. Ishida, the Director General of the Agency of Natural Resources and Energy, attended the ceremony and mentioned the policy of pushing the propagation, suggesting subsidiary of "half of the purchasing price with upper limit of 1.4 million yen." The 6 companies showed their goal of the first fiscal year; total 2,800 sets by the 4 town gas companies, 2,000 sets by Nippon Oil Corp. and 5,000 sets for 5 years by Astomos Energy. According to the governmental forecast of the energy demand and supply, accumulated total of 2.5 million sets of home use cogeneration systems including FC will be installed by 2030. Other companies going to begin sales of FC after May are 4 companies, i.e., Panasonic Corp., Ebara-Ballard Corp. Toshiba FC System Corp. and ENEOS Celltec Co., Ltd. The prices are 3.2 - 3.465 million yen. [The Asahi Shimbun, The Mainichi Shimbun, The Sankei Shimbun, The Denki Shimbun (electricity), The Nikkei Sangyo Shimbun (economy and industry), The Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun (business and technology), The Tokyo Shimbun, The Chunichi Shimbun, The Chugoku Shimbun, The Nishihihon Shimbun, The Fuji Sankei Business Eye, The Chemical Daily Jan. 29, 2009, The Dempa Shimbun (radio wave) Jan. 30, 2009, The Tokyo Shimbun, The Chunichi Shimbun Feb., 1, 2009 and The Judaku Shimpo (living house) Feb. 3,2009]

(2) Honda Motor Corp.
@The company started development of power generating systems for home uses combining FC and solar cells. Based on technology for home use cogeneration systems now they are developing, they intend to establish technologies for hydrogen production, storage and power generation combining town gas etc. They promote real use of dispersed systems for generating power and hydrogen as energy sources for EV and FCV. Accumulating elementary technologies for the home use systems, business use stations of hydrogen and power for charging will be developed, and energy supply to next generation ecological cars will be studied. Commercialization is thought to be after later half in 2010s. [The Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun (business and technology) Feb. 6, 2009.]

(3) Nihon Gas Co., Ltd.
@The company in Kagoshima city is going to start sales of home use FC "Enefarm" since fall of 2009. Through companies in the group sales activities cover whole city. The sales price will be about 3 million yen. [The Minaminihon Shimbun Feb. 7, 2009]

(4) Nippon Oil Corp.
@The company begins sales of LP gas fueled PEFC in Hokkaido. The company has installed total 18 sets of FC in Hokkaido since 2006, and operation data in cold climate have been gathered. Comparing conventional hot water supply, CO‚Q exhaustion can be by 30 - 40% reduced. The sales area is mainly central area south of Sapporo. [The Hokkaido Shimbun Feb. 14, 2009]

6. FCV Forefront
@Honda Motor Corp. is going to develop a new model of FCV to be thrown in the market in 2015 fiscal year. Based on the present model of FCX Clarity, necessary functions will be selected and cost reduction will be made aiming annual production of 10,000 - 20,000 cars in the future. At present the body is made by specific design and annual production is about 200 cars, while they are leased to special customers like legal persons. Because mass production effect is a little, it will be considered that FC system is installed in a conventional car body to reduce the cost. The body of Accord is a candidate. [The Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun ( business znd technology) Feb. 11, 2009]

7. Metrological Technology Related FC and Hydrogen
@Shikoku Research Institute Inc. in Takamatsu city developed technology to measure and visualize spatial concentration distribution of hydrogen gas. In this apparatus Raman scattering of hydrogen gas and nitrogen gas in atmosphere are simultaneously observed by laser radiation. The distance and concentration of hydrogen is measured and shown. By measuring the detection time of scattered light by hydrogen, the distance to hydrogen can be obtained. The concentrations of hydrogen and nitrogen can be measured by measuring intensity ratios. The results are shown in a graph and visualized. They are intending to display spatial distribution by difference of color like thermography, which shows temperature distribution by color difference. [The Denki Shimbun (electricity) Jan. 30, 2009]

8. Micro-FC Development for Portable and Mobile Equipments
(1) Fujikura Co.
@The company developed DMFC of power density of 105 mW/cm2, which is 5 times larger than conventional ones, while the power increased up to 20 W at the maximum and it is 8 times larger than conventional DMFC. Technology to control the stack temperature and the electrolyte membrane were developed, while the new structure was devised so that canceling relation between the methanol concentration and the power density was improved. In conventional DMFC methanol is supplied to the stacks with a pump, but a pump is not used in the new DMFC, and they applied instead technology of heat pumps used in electronics devises for cooling. In real use the power density might decrease down to 60 - 70 mW/cm2 because of difficulty of temperature control. The company is looking for a chance for collaborative development with end makers, and aiming at real use in the end of 2009 fiscal year. [The Chemical Daily Feb. 5, 2009]
@The above company is aiming at real use of DMFC for outside power sources to batteries in personal computers. Reviewing the cell structure, the new structure was developed, and cross-over does not occur, if methanol fuel of high concentration of 20 - 50% is used in passive type DMFC. Thus the output density increased 105 mW/cm2 from 30 mW/cm2 of 2008 year model of 30 mW/cm2. Over 3 times increase is obtained. Measures for methanol leakage prevention and circulating use of water are also prepared. The size of the product is 100 mm long, 170 mm wide and 120 mm high. The weight is 1 kg, but average output and maximum output are 10 W and 20 W respectively. The company intends to complete development almost in 2009 fiscal year and to commercialize it in 2011 fiscal year. The aim is outside chargers for portable phones, and smaller products are also intended. [The Chemical Daily Feb. 20, 2009]

(2) Kaaz Corp.
@A gardening machine maker in Okayama city, Katsu assembled trial PEFC to be installed on its own products of blowers, lawn mowers etc. The FC system is consisted of a power generator of 30 cm length, 30 cm width and 15 cm depth, a container of magnesium for hydrogen storage and a fan. By reaction of magnesium hydride and water hydrogen is produced and used in FC. Real use in 2013 fiscal year is anticipated, and application to vacuum cleaners of business use is also under consideration. [The Sanyo Shimbun Feb. 10, 2009]

9. Development Results of Bio-FC
@Prof. Yamaguchi, a professor of Resources Chemistry Institute of Tokyo Institute of Technology, and his group developed basic technology to increase performance of bio-FC, which uses saccharide for power generation. Devising electrode surface structure, activity of enzyme to decompose saccharide by accepting electrons was increased, so that the current was 6 times increased compared with conventional ones. The basic technology is as follows. Carbon fine particles of 30 nm diameter are attached on a carbon electrode, and furthermore chain polymer, which is made by copolymerization of acrylamide of water affinity and vinylferrocene of electron conductivity, is attached on the electrode. Finally, glucose oxidase, an enzyme decomposing glucose and taking electrons, is attached. Glucose oxidase has been used for instance for measuring glucose concentration in blood. It is 5 - 6 nm in diameter and has glove-like shape. By the basic technology the enzyme is attached on the electrode surface without changing its shape. The electrode current density is 12 mA/cm2, while by conventional technology, in which the chain polymer is not used, the density was less than 2 mA/cm2. This is caused by the fact that the shape of enzyme is changed and clings on the carbon fine particles to lose its activity. According to computer simulation by the research group, it is possible by improving enzyme to increase the current density to 300 mA/cm2, the same density as hydrogen fueled SOFC.. Similar trial of bio-FC was published by Sony Corp. [The Nikkei Sangyo Shimbun (economy and industry) Feb. 18, 2009]

10. Business Deployment by Firms
(1) Nisshinbo Corp.
@To real commercialization of PEFC separators, the company is going to make up efficient production systems. In spring of 2009 a new line will be introduced in its Chiba factory, and after half year lines working in Miai factory (Okazaki city) will be moved to Chiba. The production capacity of annual 4 million sheets is not changed, but promoting automation, high-quality low-cost products will be produced. The separators produced by this company is made by molding carbon-resin, and because of wave shape, they are superior in high strength, thin thickness and flexibility. To be accepted in FCV, the company is promoting to make them thinner. The company anticipates to supply the separators for 15,000 cars in 2010 fiscal year and for 30,000 cars in 2011 fiscal year. If demand increases, the price will be decreased from 2.5 million yen at present to several hundred thousands yen. [The Chemical Daily Jan. 27, 2009]

(2) Organo Corp.
@In an water purification equipment for FC the company accepted method of regenerating ion exchanging resin by electricity (FDI method) to bring high maintenance performance, light weight and downsizing. FDI is a cylinder of 70 mm diameter and 80 mm length, and its supplying rate is 10 - 60 mL/min. The power consumed is about 1 W, and it is possible to supply purified water for long time without maintenance. For PEFC it has worked for more than 100,000 hours. The cost of the product for PEFC is below 20,000 yen. The company aims at annual 100,000 sales in 2015 fiscal year. [The Chemical Daily Feb. 12, 2009, The Nikkeii Sangyo Shimbun (econly and industry) and The Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun (business and technology) Feb. 20, 2009]

(3) Dainippon Printing Co., Ltd.
@The company aims at real use of hydrogen selective membrane. On mesh-like stainless steel plate of 50 micron m thickness (support), palladium thin film of 5 micron m thickness was formed. By its own technology defects of pin holes are not formed, and hydrogen permeability is high. Furthermore, low cost, high strength and good sealing characteristics are superior points. The company intends to improve the membrane to line up with other FC related materials. By tests of the company it is revealed that hydrogen permeability is approaching to that of palladium foil. In selective permeability test of hydrogen and helium, helium leakage is in high technical level, i.e., below 0.01 cc/min. [The Chemical Daily Feb. 12, 2009]

(4) Fiber Industry Co.
@The above Italian company begins sales of FRP containers for FCV. The containers are made of molybdenum steel and the outside is wounded with high-strength carbon fibers. They got the qualification as high-pressure gas containers by The High-Pressure Gas Safety Institute, so that the company is intending to sell them to Japanese automobile companies. The containers are seamless thin containers of molybdenum-chromium steel, on which high-strength carbon fibers are wounded, and furthermore, glass fibers are wounded on them. [The Tekko Shimbun (iron and steel) Feb. 19, 2009]

11. Trend in FC Introduction to Market
@According to statistic investigation of FC introduction (2007 version) published by JEMA, number of PEFC introduction increased annually to 1,008 sets (including 930 sets by the large-scale demonstration by NEF) by the NEF demonstration. That of SOFC was 31 sets including 29 by the NEF demonstration. MCFC is 0 and PAFC is 1 installed in a governmental office building. [The Denki Shimbun (electricity) Feb. 2, 2009]

------------ This edition is made up as of February 20, 2009. ---------------