(1)Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI)
@On November 4, 2009 the ministry established a research group to keep international competitiveness of next generation automobiles like FCV, and its first meeting was held. In May 2007 the ministry completed "The Next Generation Automobiles and Fuels Initiative." Considering promoted work on the next generation automobiles in US and European countries, the ministry is going to examine Japanese automobile industry in various aspects, such as R&D, Infrastructure, international tasks like standardization of batteries etc. including governmental supports. The research group is consisted of 14 non-governmental members of summits from industry of automobiles, oil, electric power and batteries in addition to Vice-Minister, Mr. Mashiko, Political staff, Mr. Kondo and the Director of Manufacturing Industry Bureau, Mr. Taira. In the research group three working groups are organized, i.e., overall automobile strategy, batteries strategy and infrastructure. Discussion will be made by about January of 2010 in the working groups and in March the group will get preliminary conclusion. The results will be taken into account in national economic growth strategies now being assembled by the government. [The Mainichi Shimbun, The Sankei Shimbun, The Nikkan Jidosha Shimbun (automobiles), The Fuji Sankei Business Eyes and The Chemical Daily Nov. 5, 2009]
@On November 10, 2009 the ministry announced that it was going to establish "Next Energy and Social Systems Counsel" in the ministry. On November 13 it would have the first meeting. Bundling total 7 organizations, namely, 6 research groups in the ministry and 1 non-governmental organization, discussion will be made on necessary policies of the government. In 2010 fiscal year two demonstrations will be made in two areas or more, and budget of 9.4 billion yen was included in the budget draft. In the counsel they will investigate building-up of electric grid including large ratio of renewable energies, and propagation of EV and FCV, as well as necessary policies and social infrastructure to propagate energy saving technologies into offices and homes. Promotion of related industries and standardization, which will be effective to technology propagation and cost reduction, will also be discussed. [The Sankei Shimbun, and The Fuji Sankei Business Eye Nov. 11, 2009]
@On November 13, 2009 the ministry had the first meeting of "Next Energy and Social Systems Counsel" and started investigation toward low carbon society in which environment and economy will be compatible. In the demonstration latest energy saving and new energy technology using IT are going to be demonstrated intensively. Smart houses, EV running in the area, charging station and parking lots, solar power generation, LED illumination, smart grids, show cases of next generation human life etc. will be prepared. Aiming overseas propagation as systems, the demonstration will be expanded to worldwide model projects. The Agency of Natural Resources and Energy of METI will make proposition of two models; a demonstration for towns and the other for agricultural and fishery villages and local towns. [The Kinsetsu Tsushin Shimbun (construction) Nov. 16, 2009 and The Nikkan Kensetsu Kogyo Shimbun (construction) Nov. 17, 2009]
(2) METI Osaka Branch
@On Oct. 26, 2009 the above branch of METI announced that it established "Kansai Enefarm Salon" in which Panasonic Corp. involving home use FC systems and 14 intermediate and small manufacturing companies in Kansai are members. They will share technology tasks and exchange technological information. [The Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun (business and technology) Oct. 27, 2009]
2. Policy by a Local Government
@On Oct. 30, 2009 "Yamanashi FC Real Use Promotion Congress," which is consisted of Yamanashi Prefecture, Yamanashi University and some companies, decided its activities including invitation of FC related manufacturing strongholds, hydrogen supplying stations etc. Hereafter they will work on other companies and associations, and thus they will aim at integration. On Nov. 25, 2009 the governor Mr. Yokouchi saw the president of the congress Mr. Nishimuro and required promotion of hydrogen supplying stations in the prefecture. [The Yamanashi Nichinichi Shimbun Oct. 31, 2009, The Nikkei Sangyo Shimbun (economy and industry) Nov. 12, 2009 and The Yamanashi Nichinichi Shimbun Nov. 26, 2009]
3. MCFC Development
@Central Research Institute of Electric Power Industry developed technology, by which cost of MCFC can be reduced, and it succeeded in cost reduction of cell components down to about half. By review of processes and components, the low-cost was made real. Stacks of 1 kW were made in trial, and the output was confirmed to be 1.03 kW. Number of components in a single cell was reduced from 10 to 8. For instance, water solvent was used instead of organic solvent in a process of electrolyte plate production, and for the channels plates, components generally used in heat exchangers were used. A process, in which carbonates were preliminarily soaked into both of anode and cathode, was established and thus carbonates sheets became unnecessary. By these improvements, the cost for the components was reduced from 2 million yen to 175 thousand yen, and thus the price of the system would be decreased from 2 million yen/kW to 1 million yen/kW. Overseas 0.5 - 0.6 million yen/kW was achieved, so that the institute continues development furthermore. [The Denki Shimbun (electricity) Nov. 20, 2009]
4. SOFC Development and Demonstration
(1) Osaka Gas Co., Ltd.
@On Nov. 10, 2009 the company set forth that the company was going to start demonstration of home use SOFC, which had been developed in cooperation with Kyocera Corp., Toyota Motor Corp. and Aisin Seiki Co., Ltd., since December of 2008. By spring of 2010, 23 sets will be installed in real residences. The cooperative development by the four companies will start in March, and it was forecasted that test systems would be completed in due time. In comparison with the test systems developed by Osaka Gas Co., Ltd. and Kyocera Corp. in 2008 fiscal year, the electric generating unit reduced by 16% in the volume. Assuming real use in before half of 2010, the four companies are making development in endurance improvement and cost reduction. [The Nikkei Sangyo Shimbun (economy andindustry) Nov. 11, 2009]
(2) Japan Energy et al
@On Nov. 19, 2009 three companies, Japan Energy, SUMITOMO PRECISION PRODUCTS .,Co Ltd. and NGK Insulators, Ltd., announced that they have been developing 3 kW output SOFC using commercial kerosene and they succeeded in power generation. Technology to remove impurities from kerosene and to reform it is being developed by Japan Energy, and cell stacks by ceramic technology is made by NGK Insulators, Ltd., while SUMITOMO PRECISION PRODUCTS .,Co Ltd. developed a thermal management system for reducing thermal loss. Hereafter, the three companies continue their developments, and detailed examination of the electric power efficiency and downsizing will be done. Demonstration is planned in 2010 fiscal year, and real products are expected in 2015. [The Denki Shimbun (electricity), The Nikkei Sangyo Shimbun (economy and industry), The Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun (business and technology), The Nikkan Jidosha Shimbun (automobile), The Chunichi Shimbun, and The Chemical Daily Nov. 20, 2009,]
5. Development of PEFC Elementary Technologies
(1) Tokyo Institute of Technology
@Prof. Yamaguchi and his co-workers developed new polymer membrane, which can work in low temperature down to -30 and in high temperature up to 100 in dry atmosphere. The membrane is polyimide film with numerous pores, in which fine particles of zirconium dioxide with electro-conductive polymer on the surface are contained. Water exists in interface between fine particles and polymer, and hydrogen ions migrate in the interface. Hydrogen and oxygen do not migrate. The developed polymer membrane is more stable than conventional ones, and it keeps performance in a wide temperature range and in low humidity below 20%. Therefore, a humidifier and a cooler become unnecessary, and it can be used under unfavorable conditions with low cost. They intend to develop it in real use level within 3 - 5 years. [The Nikkei Sangyo Shimbun (economy and industry) Oct. 29, 2009]
(2) Kyoto University et al
@Prof. Kitagawa in a stronghold for research of material - bio-cell integrated systems of the university and Dr. Horige, a staff of Science and Technology Promotion Organization made a new material. In the new material organic compound is held in porous metallic complex with numerous pores, and hydrogen in the compound migrates. They synthesized porous metallic complex with 1 nm square pores arranged regularly., and they inserted organic compound, namely vaporized imidazole by heating at about 120. When it is heated from the room temperature, linearly arranged imidazole rotates at high rate and hydrogen in the molecule migrates from molecule to molecule. It is stable in a wide temperature range. If it is used as electrolyte in FC, possibility that high power can be produced in a short time, is anticipated, and FC with low energy loss could be made, they said. [The Yomiuri Shimbun Oct. 26, 2009, The Chemical Daily Nov. 12, 2009 and The Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun (business and technology) Nov.. 24, 2009]
6. Business Deployment in Relation with Enefarm
(1) Tokyo Gas Co., Ltd. and Osaka Gas Co., Ltd.
@The above two companies started a campaign. They buy surplus electric power from double power generation of Enefarm FC and solar photo-electric generation at the rate of 9 - 10 yen/kWh. In a new institution started since Nov. 1, the rate buying power from the double generation is 39 yen/kWh and it is cheaper by 9 yen than the case of single solar photo-electric generation. The campaign will be continued by the end of March of 2011. Among the double generation users, definite money will be paid for 10 years to those who ordered in the period. Tokyo Gas Co., Ltd. will pay 10 yen/kWh and Osaka Gas Co., Ltd. will pay 9 yen/kWh to those who ordered until March 31, 2010, but it is not decided for those ordering after the limit. In standard cases the annual subsidy is estimated about 30,000 yen for Tokyo Gas Co., Ltd. and for the cases of Osaka Gas Co., Ltd. it is about 28,000 yen. [The Nihon Keizai Shimbun and The Denki Shimbun (electricity) Nov. 13, 2009]
(2) Toho Gas Co., Ltd.
@The company opened a test building, where training of installation and maintenance is made together with evaluation of performance of next generation FC, at its headquarter in Atsuta ward of Nagoya city. The company also announced that it began sales of home use PEFC produced by Toshiba Corp. The electric output is 250 - 700 W. The price is 3.255 million yen, while subsidy of maximum 1.4 million yen will be given by the government. [The Chunichi Shimbun Nov. 14, 2009, The Denki Shimbun (electricity), The Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun (business and technology) Nov. 16, 2009 and The Nikkan Kogyo Shiumbun Nov. 17, 2009]
(3) Hiroshima Gas Co., Ltd.
@The company was going to hold an exposition "09 Gas Expo" at Hiroshima Prefecture Industrial Hall on November 28 and 29, 2009, and it displays Enefarm. [The Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun (business and technology) Nov. 16, 2009]
(4) Okinawa Gas Co., Ltd
@The company installed a set of Enefarm at a general home in Kohagura of Naha city. It is the first set in Okinawa prefecture, and it was open to public on Nov. 17, 2009. The output is 700 W and the price is 3.03 million yen. The subsidy of maximum 1.4 million yen would be given by the government. [The Denki Shimbun (electricity) and The Okinawa Times Nov. 18, 2009]
(5) Hokkaido Gas Co., Ltd.
@On Nov. 17, 2009 the company announced that it would start test sales of Enefarm in 2010, though it was postponed due to the withdrawal of Ebara Corp. In cooperative development with Panasonic Corp., the commercialization of FC of cold climate specification becomes predictable. The company will sell ten and several sets first through house makers. [The Hokkaido Shimbun Nov. 18, 2009]
(6) Nippon Oil Corp.
@The company intends to expand variety widely by 2012. SOFC using LPG and PEFC using kerosene will be added to the present line-up of PEFC using town gas and LPG. Application of SOFC is mainly to urbane area, condominiums and convenience stores, because of its space saving, while PEFC is to local area and detached houses, because of its high ratio of heat production. Thus the company intends to expand the market. The technology development would be completed by 2011 fiscal year. Full sales are planned to start in 2012 fiscal year. The present price of 3.2 million yen would be reduced to 1.2 million yen for all varieties. [The Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun Nov. 18, 2009]
(7) Mitsui-reform Com.
@The company started to sell two types of energy equipments, in which Enefarm by Tokyo Gas Co., Ltd is adopted as their standard specification; one is "Energy Creation Eneremodel by Enefarm" and the other is "Energy Creation Eneremodel by Double Electric Generation." The Enefarm and/or solar photo-electric generation are built in remodeling series of "Our Renewal Home" series for announced price, and it is determined depending on the space. The former is 12.495 million yen for total space 132 m2 and the latter is 14.70 million yen with 3 kW solar photo-electric generation. [The Mainichi Shimbun Nov. 26, 2009]
7. FCV Forefront
(1) Toyota Motor Corp.
@Toyota Motor Corp. displayed "Prius Plug-in Hybrid Concept" in Tokyo Motor Show, while "FT-EBII," a small EV for the future was also shown. The latter is a four passenger car, and it runs 90 km by one full charge. It is designed assuming short distance run in urbane area. FCV was also displayed. Mr. Toyota, the president, said his view. "In the future they will inhabit the market; EV for short distance and FCV for long distance." [The Chunichi Shimbun, The Chugoku Shimbun and Kahoku Shimpo Oct. 22, 2009]
(2) Daihatsu Motor Corp.
@The company is going to carry out applied research of liquid FC without noble metals in collaboration with Tokyo University, Osaka University, Tokyo Institute of Technology, Tokushima University, Kanazawa University, Huston University, New Mexico University, Japan Atomic Energy Research Institute, US Gas Technology Institute, Hokko Chemical Industry Co., Ltd. and Otsuka Chemical Co., Ltd. Because FC is light and flexible in designing, the company thinks FCV is main in light-weight cars. The company has technology of liquid FC, which was developed in cooperation with Research Institute for Advanced Industrial Science and Technology. The fuel is hydrazine hydrate and it is dangerous in high concentration because of its high flammability. Technology was established, so that it is solidified by absorbing it into resin and liquefied again. Alkaline electrolyte is used, so that corrosion is reduced and platinum is not needed. The company intends to make full use of the technologies and improve them. [The Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun (business and technology) Oct. 26, 2009]
(3) Honda Motor Corp.
@In Shimonoseki Sea-Rumbling Marathon 2009, FCV of the company, "FCX Clarity," will support the marathon race by providing with inspection cars running after the runners. Other cars such as bikes of Yamaguchi Prefecture Police and EV rented to Chugoku Electric Power Co., Ltd., will also support the race. [The Yamaguchi Shimbun Nov. 8, 2009]
@In a series of JHFC projects, the Agency of Natural Resources and Energy was going to carry out demonstration of FCV 1,100 km long run. On Nov. 11, 2009 the cars start from the agency of METI and arrive at Kitakyushu on 12, running total 1,100 km with twice charges of hydrogen. Three cars challenge the test; FCHV-adv of Toyota Motor Corp., X-TRAIL FCV of Nissan Motor Corp. and FCX Clarity of Honda Motor Corp. According to the running schedule, they start at courtyard of Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry at 8:30 am, and after compliment visit to Aichi Prefecture office, the first hydrogen charge is planned from a mobile hydrogen station and a stationary hydrogen station. Then they visit Osaka Prefecture office, and in Okayama the second hydrogen charge is scheduled from the mobile hydrogen station. On 12 they arrive at Kitakyushu hydrogen station at 5:30 pm. [The Yomiuri Shimbun, The Asahi Shimbun, The Nihon Keizai Shimbun, The Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun (business and technology), The Nishinihon Shimbun, The Chemical Daily Nov. 11, 2009, The Sankei Shimbun, The Dempa Shimbun (radio wave), The Nikkei Sangyo Shimbun (economy and industry), The Nikkan Jidosha Shimbun (automobile), The Tokyo Shimbun, The Chunichi Shimbun, The Hokkaido Shimbun, and The Fuji Sankei Business Eye Nov. 12, 2009]
@ JHFC reported that long-range cruising performance of FCV is in the same level as gasoline engine cars. Results of the long-range running demonstration on Nov. 11 and 12 are as follows. They ran 1,137 km by twice charges and it took 19 hours. The total amount of hydrogen used by the three FCV was 28.8 kg, and the average mileage of the three cars was 118.4 km/kg, and the maximum was 132 km/kg. They can run 714 km by one charge of hydrogen. [The Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun (business and technology) Nov. 16, 2009]
8. Hydrogen Station Related Technology Development and its Business
(1) Nikko Hydrogen Station
@According to JHFC under Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, opening ceremony of Nikko hydrogen station was held on Nov. 10, 2009 in Nikko. In the venue 6 FCV gathered, and they are from Nissan Motor Corp., Toyota Motor Corp. and Mercedes Benz. The Mayor of Nikko City and about 50 persons participated the ceremony. It is an activity by Engineering Promotion Association, and it was selected in June together with Fukuoka Prefecture. It is a two year program and annually 20 million yen is given as subsidy. Total number of hydrogen stations in Japan is now 15. [The Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun (business and technology) and The Shimotsuke Shimbun Nov. 11, 2009]
(2) Yokohama Gum Co., Ltd.
@The company has developed high pressure hose for supplying hydrogen to FCV. The newly developed hose "ihara" is made of 3 layers, in which a kind of highly functional fiber is put on the other kind of highly functional fiber and they are covered with polyester. It can stand 70MPa pressure. Using multiple kinds of resins prevents hydrogen from leakage. It is intended to replace the present hose of combining metal with gum by the new one, and it is planned to begin mass-production in 2010. [The Nikkei Sangyo Shimbun (economy and industry) Nov. 12, 2009]
9. Technology Development of Hydrogen Production and Purification
@Kobe Steel, Ltd. is developing a system of pure hydrogen production and supply of high performance in start-up and stop with good load following performance and the company is going to promote it for real use. Reagent using copper for absorbing selectively CO was developed by the company, and it is combined with conventional hydrogen storage alloy. Because of really usable compact structure, it is unnecessary to construct large-scale hydrogen networks. By using a laboratory scale testing apparatus, long term experiment for 150 hours with everyday start and stop was completed, and it was confirmed that it can be operated in hydrogen purification process without degradation. A pure hydrogen production and supply system "COA-MIB" has been researched since 2006 fiscal year in collaboration with Prof. Ishida of Tsukuba University. In this system pressurized methanol aqueous solution of reformed gas is sent to a tower filled with absorbent and CO is selectively removed. The gas passing through the tower contains hydrogen and COQ and hydrogen among it is recovered with hydrogen storage alloy. It is scheduled that a bench-scale testing apparatus of 3 m3/h, which is by 30 times larger than the conventional one, would be assembled hopefully by the beginning of the next year, and it would be examined for 3 years till 2011 fiscal year. [The Chemical Daily Nov. 26, 2009]
10. Technology Development of Hydrogen Transport and Storage
@On Nov. 17, 2009 a research center for advanced functional materials of Hiroshima University made an exchange agreement for promoting cooperative research on hydrogen storage materials with US Los Alamos National Laboratory. The both are going to carry out research on storage of hydrogen in a form of compound with boron and nitrogen. The ratio of hydrogen stored to the compound is 0.2. When it is contained in the hydrogen tank of FCV, decreases in volume and weight can be expected. Research on materials themselves and process of storage and release is also carried out with promoted exchange of personnel. [The Mainichi Shimbun and The Chugoku Shimbun Nov. 18, 2009]
11. Development and Business of Micro-FC
(1) Aquafairy Co.
@GS Yuasa Power Supply Ltd. and Aquafairy Co., a venture for FC development (both located in Kyoto city) announced on Oct. 22, 2009 that they are planning commercialization of easily rechargeable small FC. It generates electric power efficiently, using water and metal hydride. It is its characteristic point that it can fully charge FC of relatively large capacity for notebook type personal computers. They aim market as portable outside power sources suppliers. @Connecting to mobile equipment, it can charge larger energy than that of conventional dry cells in shorter time. FC for portable phones is 24 g in weight and the size is smaller than palm. It takes about 2 hours to fully charge, and changing fuel cartridge it can be used repeatedly. The size of cartridge is 1 cm, 1cm and 3.5 cm, and it can be disposed as nonflammable waste. The sample shipping was already began to equipment makers, and GS Yuasa Power Supply Corp. cooperates in manufacturing and sales. The price is not yet determined, but the president Mr. Aizawa said "At present small ones for portable phones are about 5,000 yen." Along with propagation and mass production, it would be decreased to about 2,000 yen. The cartridge is now being sold at the price of about 100 yen. [The Mainichi Shimbun, The Nihon Keizai Shimbun, The Nikkei Sangyo Shimbun (economy and Industry), The Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun (business and technology) and The Kyoto Shimbun Oct. 23, 2009]
(2) Toshiba Corp.
@On Oct. 22, 2009 the company formally declared that it is going to sell small DMFC "Dynario," with which portable phones and portable music players can be easily charged even out of office. At the internet site order is being accepted up to 3,000 and it would be shipped since Oct. 29. The depth, width and height are respectively 7.4 cm, 15 cm and 2.1 cm. Injecting methanol fuel for about 20 seconds, portable phones can be fully charged about twice. The main part is about 209,800 yen with shipping expense and one set of 5 containers with methanol, which can charge three or four times per each, is 3,150 yen. [The Yomiuri Shimbun, The Asahi Shimbun, The Nihon Keizai Shimbun, The Nikkei Sangyo Shimbun (economy and industry), The Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun (business and technology), The Chemical Daily Oct. 23, 2009, The Mainichi Shimbun Oct. 24, 2009, The Denki Shimbun (electricity) Oct. 26, 2009, Ther Nishinihon Shimbun Oct. 27, 2009 and The Hokkaido Shimbun Nov. 3, 2009]
12. Expanded Application of PEFC Function
@Prof. Tagawa in Graduate course of Nagoya University and his group have developed a new synthetic method in which PEFC is used as a reactor to form organic molecules. In the periphery of air electrode of PEFC oxygen reacts with hydrogen ion to form less active hydrogen peroxide and so on. On the other hand, in conventional chemical synthesis oxygen is too active to produce some organic molecules. In the new method hydrogen ion takes a role of a brake to stop the reactions at appropriate extent. Thus if we use the above things, alcohol becomes to be easily produced. Actually when oxygen and propylene was sent to the air electrode, alcohol and aldehyde consisting of three carbon atoms like propylene were formed.. Electric power of 0.83 V was occurs in PEFC, showing possibility of recovering power. In conventional chemical reactions oxidative reaction proceeds too fast and increases the temperature, most amount of energy being lost as heat. The research group intends to increase efficiency and also to apply the method to other substances than propylene. In the future they would try the process to methane for efficiently making methanol from main component of natural gas, namely methane. [The Nikkei Sangyo Shimbun (economy and industry) and the Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun (business and technology) Oct. 23, 2009]
13. Activities and Business by Companies
(1) Nihon Oil Corp. and Nippon Mining Holdings
@Nippon Oil Corp. announced before that it was going to make unification with Nippon Mining Holdings, and on Oct. 30, 2009 formally signed the contract of management unification. A stock holding company "JX Holdings" is going to be established in April of 2010. As JX group, they will invest their management resources to non-oil fields such as poly-silicon for solar cells, FC etc. [The Yomiuri Shimbun, The Chunichi Shimbun, The Nishinihon Shimbun, The Chugoku Shimbun, The Fuji Sankei Business Eye Oct. 31, 2009, and The Nikkei Sangyo Shimbun (economy and industry) Nov. 2, 2009]
@BASF is making restructuring of the divisions, intending to strengthen overall competitiveness of FC business. The production of high temperature type MEA will be concentrated in a subsidiary company, BASF Fuel Cell (BFC) in Somerset, NJ, USA. BFC activities in Frankfrut, Germany will be ended on Dec. 31, 2009, and this stronghold will be closed in 2010. FC business is one of growing business, which BASF is incubating, and hereafter with Somerset center as a core stronghold for production, they will raise FC business together with development center in Yokkaichi, Japan. The high temperature type MEA has been adopted in a wide range applications from co-generation in homes to back-up systems for keeping power supply in power failure. [The Chemical Daily Nov. 10, 2009]
------------ This edition is made up as of November 26, 2009. ---------------