(1) Urban Thermal Energy Division under General Investigation Committee of Natural Resources and Energy
@The above division is going to complete policy proposition "Gas business in low carbon society." It is a long and medium term scenario of natural gas and gas business toward 2050 and concrete tasks are made clear aiming at 10 years after, and it is consisting of the following 4 items; (1) deployment of dispersed energy systems by utilization of cogeneration and construction of smart energy network, (2) building up hydrogen society by propagation of FC and construction of hydrogen infrastructure, (3) high level use of hydrogen in industrial sector by introduction of high-efficiency equipments and (4) introduction of renewable energy such as bio-gas and solar heat. [The Chemical Daily July 17, 2009]
(2) New Energy Division under General Investigation Committee of Natural Resources and Energy
@On July 22, 2009 the division approved fundamental concept in its interim report toward the achievement that about 20% of end energy consumption should be renewable energy about 2020. According to the report, it is important to make circumstances favorable for maximum introduction of new energy by considering characteristic features of various new energy sources and also by overall combination of policies, such as regulations and support, together with trials in private companies. It is also pointed out that surplus power from solar photovoltaic generation should be bought at high price, and innovative technology developments of FC and heat pumps should also be promoted. [The Denki Shimbun (electricity), The Chemical Daily July 23, 2009, The Kensetsu Tsushin Shimbun (construction) and The Nikkan Jidosha Shimbun (automobile) July 24, 2009]
(3) Demonstration of Social Systems of Hydrogen Society
@The Agency of Natural Resources and Energy started to accept proposals of hydrogen utilizing society systems demonstration. In the demonstration hydrogen production with little COQ exhaustion, efficient hydrogen transport and storage and efficient hydrogen utilization shall be carried out in areas. Thus it will be examined as a business model. To present proposals an organization shall be established consisting of local governments, private companies etc. It is anticipated that hydrogen will take an important role as energy medium, but to utilize it in the society the followings are needed i.e., elementary technologies for producing, transporting and storing hydrogen safely and overall systems for combining them. By these reasons, the demonstration is going to be carried out. In demonstrations "making future town" is aimed considering how to use hydrogen and FC. The number of proposals to be accepted is not yet decided, but the budget is less than about 3 billion yen. [The Kensetsu Tsushin Shimbun (construction) Aug. 17, 2009]
2. Policy by Local Government
@On July 23, 2009 Fukuoka Strategy Conference for Hydrogen Energy held 2009 fiscal year general assembly and 2009 fiscal year business plan was approved, in which Kitakyushu hydrogen town is included. [Kensetsu Tsushin Shimbun (construction) July 27, 2009]
(2) Mie Prefecture
@On Aug. 11, 2009 the prefectural industrial research institute announced that it gets a patent of PEFC separator. Water formed during power generation causes decrease in the generation performance, and to avoid this the institute invented multiple channel structure. The institute expects that the technology would be improved further and utilized by medium or small companies in the prefecture. [Ise Shimbun Aug. 12, 2009]
3. PAFC Power Generation Business
@Fuji Electric Holdings Co. is going to start business of 100 kW output PAFC for industrial application in this fall. On an occasion that it developed a new model of about half installation area, it would produce the new model in mass production scale, and it intends to sell them in hospitals, factories and sewage treatment facilities. In the Chiba factory of the core company, Fuji Electric Systems Corp., mass production lines are arranged, and annually 20 sets will be assembled. The price is about 100 million yen per one set. In 1998 the company installed the first industrial PAFC in a hospital, and total 25 sets have been delivered. [The Nihon Keizai Shimbun Aug. 2, 2009]
4. 4. SOFC Technology Development
@On Aug. 14, 2009 The National Research Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology announced that it has developed low temperature operation type SOFC. Operation at 600 was successful, and the guidelines for SOFC of conventional materials to improve in performances are made clear. The Functional Assembly Technology Group of Advanced Manufacturing Research Institute has carried out development of manufacturing technology for micro-SOFC of high-performance tube type using ceria materials under cooperation with Fine Ceramics Research Association. The group has established production process technology for thin film electrolyte and sophisticated electrode structure control. The technology was applied to zirconia materials. Thus they made zirconia SOFC of the new thin electrolyte and highly porous electrode structure. Zirconia ceramics, nickel-zirconia ceramics and lanthanum-cobalt-ceria ceramics are used respectively for electrolyte, fuel electrodes and air electrodes. The micro-SOFC of 1.8 mm diameter tubes is thus made. Changing porosity of the fuel electrodes, power generation performance was observed in hydrogen gas flow, and it was found that the electric resistance is largely influenced by the porosity. The electrode resistance became 1/30 for 54% porosity. By power generation test in the temperature range from 550oC to 600, the maximum power density of 0.5 - 1.1 W/cm2 was obtained. By the test the guide lines were obtained to improve SOFC performance and to decrease the operating temperature for SOFC of zirconia which has advantages of long term endurance and low cost over other materials. The wide usage and the promoted propagation are expected. [The Chemical Daily Aug. 17, 2009]
5. PEFC Elementary Technologies Development
(1) Showa Denko K.K.
@On July 16, 2009 the above company announced that the company has been joining a project for non-metallic oxide catalysts for PEFC in the National Research Institute for Advanced Industrial Science and Technology, and it succeeded in development of PEFC catalysts. Instead of noble metal like platinum, substitutes were developed, in which carbon and nitrogen are contained in niobium or titanium oxides. The performances are the highest among conventional platinum-substituting catalysts. The open circuit voltage and the endurance are respectively 1 V and over 500 hours, and the production cost could be below 500 yen per kW, which is less than 1/20 of platinum catalysts. [The Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun (business and technology), The Nikkan Jidosha Shimbun (automobile), The Tekko Shimbun (iron and steel), Fuji Sankei Business Eye, The Chemical Daily July. 17, 2009 and The Nikkei Sangyo Shimbun (economy and industry) July 20, 2009]
@On July 23, 2009, the company set forth that it developed bipolar carbon separators in a series of components development. Two sheets of separators are attached with specific adhesive in high accuracy by heating. Thus hydrogen gas channels, oxygen gas channels and cooling water channels to remove exhausted heat by chemical reaction are set in a separator. Packing process for sealing cooling water channels becomes unnecessary. Contact resistance between the two separators reduced to 1/10. By unifying two separator sheets, mutual reinforcement effect reduced the thickness to 0.1 mm. Hydrophilic treatment of long endurance makes water easily exhausted to keep gas diffusion. Comparing with conventional separators, increase in output density of 30% and cost reduction of 30% were achieved. Mass production is forecasted about 2015. [The Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun (business and technology), The Chemicl Daily July 24, 2009, The Nikkan Jidosha Shimbun (automobile) July 27, 2009 and The Tekko Shimbun (iron and steel) July 29m 2009]
(2) Sanyo Special Steel Co., Ltd.
@In cooperation with Hokkaido University the company succeeded in separators for PEFC. Metallic powder of about 0.1 mm diameter spheres is sintered on surface of metallic plate to form porous layers. Through the layers hydrogen and oxygen are supplied, and it is also used as water exhausting channel. Thus gasses and water flow smoothly, and conductivity between the separators and the electrodes increases. The company already developed separators for DMFC and high output density was achieved. This is applied to PEFC, and higher performances are confirmed than conventional separators. "Whether the output density increases or not is now under examination.." they said. Changing the sphere diameter, ratio, metallic components etc., development will be continued to obtain higher performances. [The Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun (business and technology) July 20, 2009]
(3) Yamanashi University
@Prof. Furuya, a trustee of Yamanashi University, succeeded in reduction of the cell thickness from conventional 1.5 mm to 0.4 mm (1/4). The improved points are thin fluorocarbon layer to control the humidity, carbon materials layer for electric conductivity, and thick metallic plates for gas channels of hydrogen and oxygen. Carbon materials used are those of 500 nm size spheres made of about 50 nm size particles. To reduce the fluorocarbon layer, fluorocarbon particles and carbon black particles are dispersed in liquid, and uniform and hard materials are made by electrophoresis. The gas channels are made by heat press, and then it is attached with thin metallic plate. [The Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun (business and technology) July 24, 2009]
(4) Keio University
@Prof. Yamamoto and his co-workers in Keio University succeeded in making uniform platinum particles of 1 nm size by using special polymer. About 13 times larger current can be obtained comparing with commercially available platinum catalysts. For preparation organic polymer "dendrimer" is used, and in this polymer fine cage-like cavities are formed. Platinum chloride is immersed into dentrimer and sodium boron hydride is added. Platinum particles of the same diameter of the cages are formed. It is considered that in conventional platinum catalysts of 2 - 5 nm diameter surface electronic structure changes by making them fine. In the case of activation in electrodes, either platinum-dendrimer complex as it is or platinum-graphite by heating is used. [The Nikkei Sangyo Shimbun (economy and industry) July 27, 2009]
(5) Hosokawa Micron
@On July 29, 2009 the company announced that it succeeded in development of platinum electrode catalyst, by which used platinum amount can be reduced to below 1/4. The development was done in collaboration with Osaka University and Tokyo Metropolitan University. Tungsten carbide particles of 300 micron m diameter are mixed with conventional catalyst with platinum on the surface. Then tungsten carbide extends entangled carbon catalyst linearly and as a result surface area of platinum increases to more than 4 times. Based on company's own technology of mechano-chemical bonding., platinum catalyst becomes composite particle. Catalytic effect similar to conventional ones is observed even for smaller amount of platinum. [The Nikkei Sangyo Shimbun (economy and industry), The Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun (business and technology) The Chemical Daily July 30, 2009]
(6) Waki Business Group
@Using fullerene technology, this group in Matsudo city developed electrolyte material workable without humidity. This material has proton conductive phosphonic acid group and chemical structure for the group to react with imidazole group stably is introduced by using chemical modification of fullerene. Because it is chemically stable and it is not soluble in water, membrane without humidity is obtained. The group will supply samples of this powder materials and research for usages will start together with companies and universities. [The Chemical Daily Aug. 12, 2009]
6. Home Use PEFC "Enefarm" Business
(1) Tokyo Gas Co., Ltd.
@On July 16, 2009 the company announced that over 500 sets of Enefarm have been sold since its start in May of 2009. In market of newly built houses many sets were accepted mainly by major house makers, and in the other market proposals were activated by Tokyo Gas Co., Ltd., so that the acceptance is in firm tone. The company increases additionally 600 sets to the initial sales target of 2009 fiscal year, so that the company aims at 2100 sets as the new target. [The Nihon Keizai Shimbun, The Denki Shimbun (electricity), The Nikkei Sangyo Shimbun (economy and industry), The Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun (business and technology) July 17, 2009, The Fuji Sankei Business Eye July 18, 2009 and The Tekko Shimbun (iron and steel) July 23, 2009]
(2) Hiroshima Gas Co., Ltd.
@On July 23, 2009 the company held a ceremony and exhibition of Enefarm. The targets are newly built detached houses, and annual targets are 50 sets. [The Denki Shimbun (electricity) July 24, 2009]
@The company started sales of Enefarm for LP gas in cooperation with Sekisui House Corp. The company undertakes sale, installation and maintenance for those purchased houses from Sekisui House Corp. [The Mainichi Shimbun July 27, 2009]
(4) Osaka Gas Co., Ltd.
@The number of purchase orders of Enefarm received by the company since its announcement in June amounts to 500 sets including reservation, and it is the half of the annual target, 1000 sets. [The Nihon Keizai Shimbun July 29, 2009]
(5) Mitani Sangyo Co., Ltd.
@The company in Kanazawa city organized a new energy development section in its 100% subsidiary company, Mitsuya Gas Co., Ltd. and its sales of Enefarm produced by Nippon Oil Corp. will be fully activated. The targets are replacement of boilers in existing houses as well as newly built houses. Their aim after 3 years is to sell annually 100 sets. [The Hokkoku Shimbun Aug. 1, 2009]
(6) Toho Gas Co., Ltd.
@The company got orders of 150 sets at the end of July in 2009, and the sales target in 2009 fiscal year was increased by 50 sets to total 250 set. [The Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun (business and technology) Aug. 4, 2009]
(7) Nippon Oil Corp.
@The company is going to introduce a new model of home use PEFC "Enefarm" of low price into the market about 2012 fiscal year. To do this the company is going to improve the endurance and to simplify the auxiliary systems, such as sensors for protecting FC. Furthermore, parts of over-specification are looked for to reduce the cost. In ENEOS Celltech Co., Ltd. trial new models will be completed and tested for commercialization in 2010 fiscal year, and in 2011 fiscal year the production will be started to establish the mass-production lines in 2012. [The Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun Aug. 4, 2009]
7. Forefront of Development of FCV, Hydrogen REV, Hydrogen Driven Mobiles etc.
(1) Hy-West- Initiative
@The Chugoku branch of Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, Mazda Motor Corp, Iwatani Corp. and Hiroshima University announced on July 15, 2009 that test run of hydrogen vehicles will be done on Sept. 27 - 30. It is in a series of "Hy-West Initiative" and hydrogen produced from chemical plants in Chugoku District will be used. From Osaka Prefecture to Fukuoka Prefecture (about 540 km), one "FCHV-adv," by Toyota Motor Co., Ltd., two "Premacy- Hydrogen RE Hybrid" by Mazda Motor Corp. and one "RX-8 Hydrogen RE," which uses hydrogen together with gasoline, will be running. Hydrogen will be supplied at facilities of Iwatani Gas Corp. and Mazda Motor Corp. with a small mobile hydrogen station of Iwatani Corp. By the test run possibility of propagation of these cars and tasks to construct infrastructure will be elucidated.. [The Chugoku Shimbun July 16, 2009, The Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun (business and technology) July 17, 2009, The Nikkan Jidosha Shimbun (automobile) July 23, 2009, The Mainichi Shimbun, The Sankei Shimbun, The Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun (business and technology), The Nikkan Jidosha Shimbun (automobile), The Osaka Nichinichi Shimbun, The Nishinihon Shimbun, The Tokushima Shimbun, The Chemical Daily July 28, 2009, The Nikkan Jidosha Shimbun (automobile) and The Chugoku Shimbun July 29, 2009]
(2) Honda Motor Co. Ltd.
@The company is going to hold events, main part of which is test run of FCV "FCX Clarity." The first event was held in main cities in Shimane prefecture for 3 days since July 18, 2009. [The Nikkan Jidosha Shimbun (automobile) July 25, 2009]
(3) Railway Technical Research Institute
@The above institute in Japan Railway group developed hybrid train using hydrogen FC and lithium ion batteries as the next generation trains. Since this spring test run was carried out with trial trains, and stable operation was confirmed. Power generation at 480 kW was possible and there was no problem in acceleration. The railway used for the test was that for speed limit of 45 km/h, so that the test run over this limit could not be done, but running at 100 km/h is possible in the design. [The Sankei Shimbun Aug. 10, 2009]
(4) Hokuriku Green Energy System Society
@The above research group, consisting of Tonami Transportation Co., Ltd. and other organizations in governmental, academic and industrial sectors, is making technology development of hydrogen energy utilization system with FC using aluminum waste, and they opened a light truck to public, which truck runs with a trial system, on July 10, 2009. In this activity aluminum wastes, such as paper cups, packages for medicine tablets etc. are recovered, and by heating them in high temperature under low oxygen concentration, aluminum is recovered. By reacting it with sodium hydroxide hydrogen is obtained, and using it power is generated by FC. On the carrier of the light truck a trial system of hydrogen producing equipment and FC was installed. By about 500 g of aluminum the truck can run for 10 minutes at 10 km/h. They anticipate real use after 3 years. [The Kitanihon Shimbun, The Toyama Shimbun Aug. 11, 2009, The Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun (business and technology) Aug. 12, 2009 and The Chunichi Shimbun Aug. 18, 2009]
8. Development and Business of Hydrogen Station
@On Aug. 4, 2009 13 companies of oil wholesalers and gas companies, including Nippon Oil Corp., Idemitsu Kosan Co., Ltd., Tokyo Gas Co., Ltd., Osaka Gas Co., Ltd., Iwatani Corp. etc., established "Research Consortium for Technology of Hydrogen Supply and Utilization" to investigate hydrogen supplying infrastructure and to develop hydrogen stations in collaboration. By examination of various tasks including demonstration of hydrogen stations, profitability of hydrogen supplying business is going to be elucidated. Total cost is estimated over 70 billion yen. Real business is forecasted to start in 2015. [The Yomiuri Shimbun, The Mainichi Shimbun, The Sankei Shimbun, The Nihon Keizai Shimbun, The Denki Shimbun (electricity), The Nikkei Sangyo Shimbun (economy and industry), The Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun (business and technology), The Chunichi Shimbun, The Nishinihon Shimbun, The Chugoku Shimbun, The Fuji Sankei Business Eye, The Chemical Daily, The Kahoku Shimpo Aug. 5, 2009 and The Dempa Shimbun (radio wave) Aug. 11, 2009]
9. Technology Development of Hydrogen Production and Purification
(1) Kobe Steel Ltd. and Tsukuba University
@In collaboration the above two developed technology to perfectly remove CO in process of hydrogen production by reforming. Chemical absorption materials containing copper was developed to concentrate and recover CO from byproduct gas in steel making process, and these materials are applied. By the new technology only hydrogen can be absorbed. In experiment it was confirmed that nickel alloys were used and hydrogen can repeatedly absorbed and released without degradation of absorption performance. The company is considering to apply it first to FC of 50 kW output for housing complex, and real use in hydrogen stations is aimed about 2015. [The Nihon Keizai Shimbun July 27, 2009]
(2) Sapporo Breweries Ltd.
@The company announced completion of a hydrogen producing plant from bio-resources and the plant will be used in cooperative research with Petroleo Brasileiro S.A. in Brazil. Hydrogen would be produced from cellulose in residues of sugar cane. The demonstration is scheduled to start in the middle of November, 2009 in Brazil. The demonstration will be undertaken by a Brazilian consulting company of environment, "Ergosticks." Sapporo Breweries constructed the plant and supplied hydrogen fermentation technology for cellulose. It is a goal that production cost would be decreased to 40 yen per cubic meter within 10 years. [The Nikkei Sangyo Shimbun (economy and industry) Aug. 18, 2009]
10. Technology Development of Hydrogen Transport and Storage
@Prof. Morikawa in Space Technology Department of Meijo University completed trial product for hydrogen production and storage in cooperation with Tohoku University. Thin plates of platinum producing hydrogen by decomposing atmospheric water sandwich composite ceramics storing hydrogen. The composite ceramics is mixture of lithium and zirconia, lithium zirconate. The sizes are 8 mm in diameter and 1 mm in thickness and the platinum plate is 100 nm thick. Making use of property of platinum in which atmospheric water is decomposed and hydrogen is absorbed, hydrogen is stored in the composite ceramics. When the trial product was left in ambient atmosphere for 4,000 hours, 0.15 L/cm3 hydrogen was stored. Stored hydrogen can be released by heating. At present abilities of production and storage are insufficient, so that further research like improvement of materials is proceeding. [The Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun (business and technology) Aug. 7, 2009]
11. Development of Ethanol Type FC
@Prof. Inoue, assistant Higuchi and their coworkers in Osaka Prefectural University developed catalyst for ethanol type FC using ethanol as fuel. By coating catalyst on carbon anode surface, ethanol is efficiently oxidized and electron can be taken out. The catalyst is made of platinum particles of 3nm diameter and tin oxide particles of 2 nm diameter. Only with platinum , ethanol, in which two carbon atoms tightly bonded, can not be oxidized. Catalytic activity is increased by combining tin oxide. To make the catalyst, reducing reagent is added into molten platinum and tin to form fine particles. This catalyst is coated on carbon electrode and whether ethanol is oxidized or not is observed. Oxidation proceeds more efficiently than conventional ones and it is in a level useful in FC. The ratio of platinum to tin oxide for the maximum activity is 3 to 1. [The Nikkei Sangyo Shimbun (economy and industry) July 31, 2009]
------------ This edition is made up as of August 18, 2009. ---------------