(1) Agency of Natural Resources and Energy, METI
The above agency under Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) begins investigation on full use of LPG stands dispersed at about 17,000 sites in Japan as fuel supplying bases for EV and FCV. The investigation will be continued for 2 years since 2009 fiscal year and business opportunity would be searched. Investigations on fuel tanks for LPG automobiles and on mixed fuel technology of DME will be completed in 2009 fiscal year, and the above new investigation is replacement. Investigation on development of bio-mass to be used as fuel sources in mixture with LPG is now being planed. [The Chemical Daily Aug. 24, 2009]
(2) Demonstration of total system for hydrogen utilization society
On Aug. 28, 2009 METI announced that two applied propositions on demonstration of hydrogen society systems were accepted. The one is done by research consortium of hydrogen supply and utilization, which will make hydrogen town demonstration in Kitakyushu city and FC bus service demonstration in metropolitan area. The other is Saga prefecture local business support center, which is going to make full use of wooden bio-mass as hydrogen source. Subsidy of 3.05 billion yen in supplementary budget in 2009 fiscal year will be invested, and tasks and society models of hydrogen utilization will be examined. The research consortium of hydrogen supply and utilization is going to make it in cooperation with "Kitakyushu Hydrogen Town" by Fukuoka Prefecture. A hydrogen station to be constructed in Higashida in Kitakyushu city will be connected with total about 3 km pipeline to apartment houses, detached houses (about 20), a convenience store etc in Higashida. Hydrogen will be supplied with this pipeline. A pure hydrogen FC of 0.7 kW output will be installed in each home, and pure hydrogen FC of 5 〜 10 kW output will be in stores. Data of electric generation will be gathered. In the metropolitan area 2 FC bus will be used for regular bus service to connect Haneda airport and Narita airport to center of Tokyo. Saga prefecture local business support center is going to carry out demonstration for local consumption of local products, making use of a plant to produce fuel gas from bio-mass at Tosu center for overall environmental development. Hydrogen will be produced from sawdust like bio-mass and supplied to FCV. [The Mainichi Shimbun, The Nihon Keizai Shimbun, The Tokyo Shimbun, The Nishinihon Shimbun, The Fuji Sankei Business Eye Aug. 29, 2009, The Denki Shimbun (electricity), The Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun (business and technology), The Nikkan Jidosha Shimbun (automobile), The Kensetsu Tsushin Shimbun (construction), The Chemical Daily Aug. 31, 2009 and The Chugoku Shimbun Sept. 1, 2009]
(3) International stronghold of cooperative research
NEDO established an international stronghold for cooperative research, aiming at start of propagation to general users of FCV in 2015. A research group will be organized of 30 first class researchers from Japan, US, Germany, France, Korea, China etc. One billion yen will be invested till 2014 annually, and elementary technologies of PEFC including high-performance catalysts, electrolyte etc. are the themes. The newly operating stronghold is "Yamanashi University FC Nano-Materials Research Center" and it will be opened on Aug. 25, 2009. The director of the center would be Prof. Watanabe of Yamanashi University. To make special research, facilities are installed for preventing vibration, shielding magnetic field etc together with a clean room. Equipments, such as electron-microscopy, X-ray photo-electron spectroscopy, and nuclear magnetic resonance, of world highest class will be set. For real propagation of FCV, tasks are pointed out. For instance, production cost of a stack should be decreased from several hundred thousands yen per kW to about 4,000 yen per kW and duration should be increased from 3,000 hours to 5,000 hours. .[The Denki Shimbun (electricity), The Nikkei Sangyo Shimbun (economy and industry), The Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun (business and technology), The Dempa Shimbun (radio wave), The Nikkan Jidosha Shimbun (automobile), The Tokyo Shimbun, The Fuji Sankei Business Eye, The Chemical Daily Aug.. 20, 2009 and The Tekko Shimbun (iron and steel) Aug. 21, 2009]
(4) Investigation on stand alone FC
On Sept. 2, 2009, NEDO selected ENEOS Celltech Co., Ltd. a subsidiary company of Nippon Oil Corp. as an undertaker of investigation on stand alone FC. In this investigation marketability and possibility of new applications will be investigated on FC with system standing alone. Examining specifications and its concept, real stand alone FC would be elucidated. Technological tasks will also be examined for realization of stand alone FC, and the ways to carry out the R&D will also be proposed. [The Tekko Shimbun (iron and steel) Sept. 4,, 2009]
2. Policies and Activities by Local Governments
(1) Fukuoka Prefecture
On Sept. 5, 2009 opening ceremony of "Hydrogen Energy Products Research and Testing Center" was held at Maebaru IC South Area Research Park in Maebaru city, and it is the first center for supporting development of related equipments necessary for industrialization of hydrogen energy. The attendees were about 60 including the governor, Mr. Asou. The operation will be started in April of 2010. The objects of testing are pipes, valves, sensors, flow meters and so on used in FCV and hydrogen stations. By request of makers, the performance is investigated and the data will be supplied to support R&D for real use. The data will also be used in standardization of related equipments. [The Nishinihon Shimbun Sept. 6, 2009]
(2) Fukui Prefecture
On Sept. 8, 2009 Hokuriku research group for clean energy, which is organized of people from governmental, academic and industrial sectors in Hokuriku three prefectures, announced that its attempt to recover wasted aluminum laminated paper and to use hydrogen from the aluminum for FC was accepted by Ministry of Environment as its model activities. [The Fukui Shimbun Sept. 9, 2009]
(3) Osaka Prefecture
On Sept. 8, 2009 Osaka Prefecture completed "Strategy for Promoting New Energy Industry." Its purpose is to promote industry aiming at new energy, and main items are such as solar cells, FC, batteries and EV. [The Yomiuri Shimbun Sept. 9, 2009]
3. SOFC and Related Technology Developments
(1) Osaka Gas Co., Ltd. and 3 other companies
Osaka Gas Co., Ltd., Kyocera Corp., Toyota Motor Corp. and Aishin Seiki Co., Ltd. succeeded in thin generating unit of SOFC, which has been developed for home use. The height, width and depth are respectively 900 mm, 560 mm and 300 mm, and the weight is 83 kg, which is by 10 kg lighter than previous ones. . The components are thin but thermal insulating characteristics are good. Thus the module containing stacks is made small and light. Including hot water and room heating unit (1,700 mm high, 700 mm wide and 300 mm deep), the installation space is 0.65 m X 2 m, and it is half of that for PEFC system. It can be installed in a narrow yard of urban detached houses. Osaka Gas Co., Ltd. is estimating number of houses, in which SOFC can be installed, and it becomes 1.5 times larger. In the NEDO demonstration, this company installed the first SOFC system in 2009 fiscal year at a general house in Hirakata city, and the operation data were gathered since Aug. 22, 2009. In this fiscal year total 25 sets of SOFC will be installed and operated in the demonstration. In test operation of this SOFC by Osaka Gas Co., Ltd., endurance over 20,000 hours is achieved, and over 42,000 hour endurance is in sight. The four companies will be making establishment of cost down technology, anticipating completion of the development in beginning half of 2010's. [The Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun (business and technology) Aug. 25, 2009]
JFCC, Japan Fine Ceramics Center, developed gas seal material, which can be used in small and highly integrated SOFC, and it is endurable to heating and cooling cycles as well as quick heating. Two kinds of spherical particles of similar components are highly dispersed in the sealing material to form flexible sheets. At about 800℃ the materials melt to make high gas sealing characteristics. On endurance to heat cycles, the component ratio and profile at melting have large influence. The materials of high glass component tend to form cracks leading to gas leakage. If silica component increases, mechanical strength of sealing is improved but leads to bad adhesion with other components. They succeeded in producing the materials endurable in heat cycles between 600℃ and 400℃ over 500 cycles. [The Dempa Shimbun (radio wave) Sept. 9, 2009]
(3) National Research Institute for Advanced Industrial Science and Technology, NGK Plug Co., Ltd., etc.
The above institute announced on Sept. 10, 2009 that in cooperation with Fine Ceramics Technology Research Association, NGK Plug Co., Ltd. and Toho Gas Co., Ltd., they developed SOFC modules of micro-tube type, which is small and working at low temperature below 650℃. The generating density is 2 W/cm3 and the generating efficiency and output are respectively over 40% and more than 50W. The module is formed, combining 90 micro-tubes and the performance is confirmed. They also succeeded in developing modules over 200 W output, and the evaluation test is now proceeding. Since now, they will improve endurance and reliability of modules. Application to auxiliary power sources for cars and small-scale co-generation are anticipated. [The Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun (business and technology), The Chunichi Shimbun, The Chemical Daily Sept. 11, 2009, The Denki Shimbun (electricity) and The Nikkan Jidosha Shimbun (automobile) Sept. 14, 2009]
4. Trends in Development of Intermediate Temperature FC
Prof. Kitagawa and his group in Kyoto University (stronghold for material-cell integrated system) developed new materials, with which high electric generation efficiency can be realized in an intermediate temperature range from 200℃ to 300℃. Conventional solid electrolytes are expensive and work below 100℃ or over 600℃: these are problems to be solved. The group has succeeded in synthesize solid electrolyte of high conductivity above 100℃. They also succeeded in analyzing the conduction mechanism by NMR. By reacting aluminum sulfate and terephthalic acid in water, they got porous aluminum complex with 1 nm diameter pores. Introducing imidazole molecules (compound of hydrogen, nitrogen and carbon) into the pores by heating, composite of porous metal complex and imidazole of high proton conductivity under 0 humidity in an intermediate temperature range was thus synthesized. In Kanazawa University the mechanism of the proton conduction was elucidated in molecular level. It is hopping model of proton from an imidazole molecule to adjacent one. [The Nihon Keizai Shimbun, The Sankei Shimbun, The Denki Shimbun (electricity), The Osaka Nichinichi Shimbun, The Kyoto Shimbun, The Chemical Daily Sept. 7, 2009 and The Fuji Sankei Business Eye Sept. 10, 2009]
5. PEFC Elementary Technologies Development
(1) Nippon Kodoshi Kogyo Co., Ltd.
The company in Kochi city announced that its application of R&D of inorganic-organic nano-hybrid type electrolyte was accepted by NEDO in its activity of promoting innovation. [The Kochi Shimbun Aug. 20, 2009]
(2) Yokohama National University
Prof. Watanabe, a research staff Dr. Yasuda and their co-workers developed electrolyte membrane for PEFC, in which ionic liquid of proton conduction is used and it works without humidity. They confirmed that it can be used in a wide temperature range from the room temperature to 140℃. The developed membrane is composite membrane of ionic liquid and polyimide modified with sulfonic acid. By changing the combination, high ion conductivity and good electrode reactivity are shown by diethyl-methyl-ammonium and trifluoromethane sulfonate, and it was adopted. High polymeric materials used are polyimide of high heat resistance. Up to four times large amount of ionic liquid in weight is mixed, but flexible and tough membrane is obtained. Thermal decomposition temperature of ionic liquid is 360℃ and its melting temperature is -6℃, so that it works in a wide temperature range. The ionic conductivity is 53 mS/cm at 150℃, and it is higher than that of conventional membranes. If it is really used, humidity controlling subsystem is unnecessary, and if it works in higher temperature, catalytic activity increases and platinum amount can be reduced to bring us large-scale cost reduction. [The Chemical Daily Sept. 11, 2009]
6. Home Use "Enefarm" Business
(1) Osaka Gas Co., Ltd.
The company started sales of Enefarm since June of 2009, and the target in 2009 fiscal year was 1,000 at the beginning, but it was stated that the initial plan was modified to 1,300. Deploying aggressive sales activities with major house makers, about 600 sets have been sold through Sekisui House Corp. etc., so that the target was increased. [The Yomiuri Shimbun, The Asahi Shimbun, The Mainichi Shimbun, The Nihon Keizai Shimbun, The Denki Shimbun (electricity), The Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun (business and technology) Aug. 27, 2009, and the Sankei Shimbun Sept. 2, 2009]
On Aug. 27, 2009 the company set forth that they estimated energy saving effect in the case of introduction of FC cogeneration systems to apartment houses of 100 homes. Based on demonstration results in a trial apartment house "Next 21," they got the results of about 12% energy saving. In the third stage of the demonstration, annually 7.2% energy saving was achieved, when one set of FC was installed in 8 homes, combining batteries for surplus electric power to be accommodated. This result was used in the above estimation of 100 homes. [The Sankei Shimbun Aug. 28, 2009]
(2) Tokyo Gas Co., Ltd.
On Aug. 20, 2009 the company announced that it begins sales of energy creating reform series since Aug. 25, 2009 in cooperation with Mitsui Home Remodeling Co., Ltd. in Mitsui Home Group. In the series Enefarm is installed in detached house as a standard specification. They prepared two varieties; one is 12.495 million yen and the floor area is 40 tsubo (about 132 square meters) (,"Energy Creating Reform by Enefarm"), while the other is 14.7 million yen and FC and solar cells (3 kW) are both installed ("Energy Creating Reform by Double Generation"). [The Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun (business and technology), The Fuji Sankei Business Eye Aug. 21, 2009, The Denki Shimbun (electricity), The Chemical Daily Aug. 24, 2009, The Nikkei Sangyo Shimbun (economy and industry), The Jutaku Simpo (houses) Aug. 25,2009 and The Dempa Shimbun (radio wave) Aug. 28, 2009]
(3) Shinnihon Gas Co., Ltd.
In this business term the company in Gifu city launched energy business including "Enefarm" of LP gas specification and solar panels. They make series from sales to installation. [The Gifu Shimbun Aug.j27, 2009]
(4) Sekisui House Corp.
Since Feb. to July in 2009 the company accepted 2,800 orders of houses with solar panels installed, and it is over the number of orders in one year of 2008. It received 650 orders of home use FC, while orders of eco-friendly houses with solar generation and FC, by the company, "Green First" are increasing up to half of total orders of detached houses in July of 2009. Subsidies by the governments push the orders. [The Asahi Shimbun, The Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun (business and technology) Aug. 31, 2009, The Jutaku Shimpo (residence) Sept. 1, 2009 and The Denki Shimbun (electricity) Sept. 4, 2009]
(5) Three major town gas companies
Three major town gas companies increase the target of sales in the first year. Tokyo Gas Co., Ltd. increased by 600 sets, and Osaka Gas Co., Ltd. does by 300 sets, while Toho Gas Co., Ltd. by 50 sets. The total target of these companies increased the initial target 2,700 sets to 3,650 sets. [The Denki Shimbun (electricity) Sept. 7, 2009]
(6) Nippon Oil Corp.
On Sept. 8, 2009 the company announced that public opening of a demonstration model house "ENEOS Energy Creating House" of residential energy equipments in Yokohama city starts from Sept. 29, 2009. [The Denki Shimbun (electricity), The Chemical Daily Sept. 9, 2009, The Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun (business and technology) Sept. 10, 2009, The Jutaku Shimpo Sept. (house) 15, 2009 and The Yomiuri Shimbun Sept. 21, 2009]
(7) Toho Gas Co., Ltd.
On Sept. 24, 2009 the company begins to sell three kinds of high-efficiency gas equipments combined with solar electric generation. They are a high-efficiency hot water supplier ("Ecojows,"), a system for gas electric generation, hot water supply and air conditioning ("Ecowill"), and a home use FC ("Enefarm"). Solar photovoltaic generation system produced by Sharp Corp. is combined with them. [The Chunichi Shimbun Sept. 19, 2009 and The Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun (business and technology) Sept. 21, 2009]
7. FCV Forefront
(1) Hokuriku Green Energy System Society
The above group was established in May of 2009, and it has been carrying out development of a system for hydrogen production with a cartridge using pure hydrogen recovered from wasted aluminum. A running test of a light track was made in Aug. of 2009 using this system. [The Tekko Shimbun (iron and steel) Sept. 1, 2009]
(2) Honda Motor Co., Ltd.
The company delivered "FCX Clarity" to Iwatani Corp. on Sept.3, 2009. Iwatani Corp. has been using another FCX by lease and because of the limit a new one replaced the old one. Idemitsu Kosan Co., Ltd. announced on lease contract of "FCX Clarity" on Sept. 3, 2009. The contract period is 3 years and it will be used for general business and also for demonstration. These are both the third cars. [The Nikkei Sangyo Shimbun (economy and industry), The Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun (business and technology), The Nikkan Jidosha Shimbun (automobile), The Chemical Daily Sept. 4, 2009, The Denki Shimbun (electricity) and The Chemical Daily Sept.7, 2009]
(3) Worldwide powerful automobile makers
Worldwide powerful automobile makers, including Toyota Motor Co., Ltd., Honda Motor Co., Ltd., Daimler and GM, published a joint communiqu? on Sept. 9, 2009. In the communiqu? it was stated that FCV would be introduced into the market in 2015. A memorandum was also signed, stating that plan of economically realizable hydrogen supplying infrastructure covering over whole Germany should be constructed by public funds till 2011. In the second stage real construction of the infrastructure will be done. The other makers signing the communiqu? and memorandum are joint venture of Nissan and Renoult, Ford, Hyundai and Kia. [The Yomiuri Shimbun, The Mainichi Shimbun, The Nihon Keizai Shimbun, The Tokyo Shimbun, The Chunichi Shimbun Sept. 10, 2009, The Nikkei Sangyo Shimbun (economy and industry), The Nikkan Jidosha Shimbun (automobile) and Kahoku Shimpo Sept. 11, 2009]
A general manager in charge of development of a German automobile Company, Daimler revealed on Sept. 15, 2009 in an interview by Kyodo Press that he has interest in partnership with Toyota Motor Co., Ltd. in the field of FCV. [The Dempa Shimbun (radio wave) and The Nikkan Jidosha Shimbun (automobile) Sept. 18, 2009]
8. Hydrogen Station Business
On Sept. 16, 2009 Fukuoka Prefecture announced opening of Kitakyushu Hydrogen Station on Sept. 18, 2009. Modification of a hydrogen station in Ito Campus of Kyushu University was also completed and it will be really operated. By this opening, "Hydrogen Highway" concept by Fukuoka Prefecture connecting Fukuoka and Kitakyushu became real. The prefecture will start running demonstration of FCV, hydrogen engine cars etc. [The Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun (business and Technology) and The Nishinihon Shimbun Sept. 17, 2009]
9. Trends in Development of Bio- and Bio-related FC
Sony Corp. is promoting to increase output of "bio-FC" which is characterized its safety, and the company is also developing various applications including installation on cars. Comparing bio-FC with DMFC, glucose is used instead of methanol as fuel, and enzyme is used instead of platinum, so that it retains high safety. Even if breaking it, explosion does not happen. Output density of 50 mW bio-FC the company made in trial in 2007 is low and about 1/10 of DMFC. The company replaced electrolyte of buffer solution of sodium phosphate by imidazole based electrolyte, and the glucose concentration was increased twice. The output density became twice (5 mW/cm2 and 2.5 mW/cc). Glucose hydrogenase and diaphorase are used as enzyme (catalyst) on the anode, and bilirubin oxidase is used on cathode. The electrode is made of carbon and enzyme is fixed on it in high density. Enzyme has high selectivity and reaction occurs only for specific substance, so that inexpensive cellophane can be used as a separator. In order to increase the output of bio-FC many modifications are needed for buffer solution, electron transfer materials, electrode materials for increasing effective area of enzyme etc. The company is planning to promote modification and the output similar to DMFC is the goal. [The Chemical Daily Aug. 24, 2009]
10. Technology Development of Hydrogen Production and Purification
In Department of Science, Tokyo University of Science, Prof. Kudo, an assistant Prof. Saito, a graduate course student Sasaki succeeded in development of photo-catalyst for decomposition of water to oxygen and hydrogen by visible light. The quantum efficiency is low (0.1%) by solar light, but they succeeded in water decomposition with solid catalyst without electron transfer system such as metallic ion. The maximum catalytic activity is at 420 nm in visible light, and it is two step optical pumping type (Z-scheme type) combining hydrogen forming catalyst and oxygen forming catalyst. Hydrogen catalyst is strontium titanate with 1% rhodium, and ruthenium was loaded as co-catalyst. Oxygen catalyst is bismuth vanadate. When the aqueous solution is acidified at pH 3.5, two catalysts coagulate and become highly reactive. By suspending 0.1 g catalyst in 100 g of water, hydrogen is formed at the rate of 40 micro mole/h and oxygen at the rate of 19 micro mole/h.. The apparent quantum yield is 1.7% by 420 nm light and 0.1% by solar light. The group intends to increase it to 3% (really usable yield), while they will develop efficient method to produce and separate hydrogen and oxygen at high efficiency. [The Chemical Daily Sept. 17, 2009]
11. Metrological Technology Development Related with FC and Hydrogen
(1) Shimadzu Corp.
Shimadzu Corp. developed first an apparatus for visualizing oxygen concentration distribution in FC. The oxygen consumption needed for electric generation can be measured at real time. In the apparatus reagent responding with oxygen is painted on the gas channels. Illuminating with semi-conductor laser, oxygen is measured with a CCD camera. The commercialized apparatus was developed by oxygen-responding reagent, which is platinum based reagent and does not degrade even in high humidity and temperature. The company begins to sell it to FC makers since Sept. 1, 2009. The price is 20 million yen. [The Kyoto Shimbun Aug. 29, 2009, The Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun (business and technology), The Chemical Daily Aug. 31, 2009, The Nikkei Sangyo Shimbun (economy and industry) Sept. 1, 2009, The Dempa Shimbun (radio wave) Sept. 2, 2009, and The Nikkan Jidosha Shimbun (automobilr) Sept. 8, 2009]
(2) Murata Manufacturing Co., Ltd.
On Sept. 2, 2009 Murata Manufacturing Co., Ltd. announced that it developed a burning type gas sensor workable at low temperature. A platinum coil is replaced by a thermistor sensor, while the temperature of catalyst for burning gas is decreased from conventional temperature of 300℃ to 100℃. They will search possibility of commercialization hereafter. At the present only hydrogen can be detected, and they intend to use it for methanol, CO etc. Anticipating usages in FC etc., the sample shipping is going to begin since September of 2009. [The Nikkei Sangyo Shimbun (economy and industry), The Dempa Shimbun (radio wave) Sept. 3, 2009 and The Chemical Daily Sept. 4, 2009]
12. Business Deployment by Company
On Aug. 27, 2009 Itochu Enecs Corp. announced that it would promote new energy business, such as FC, solar panels and EV. On Sept. 1, 2009 a new division, "Division of FC, Solar and EV" was established directly under the president. Making full use of conventional sales network of petroleum products, they are making strategy for sales of eco-friendly products. Furthermore, quick chargers for EV will be set in gas stations under the company, and it will try business deployment of EV related service, since the large propagation is anticipated. [The Nikkei Sangyo Shimbun (economy and industry) Aug. 28, 2009]
------------ This edition is made up of September 21, 2009. ---------------