(1) Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry
@The ministry (METI) is going to support R&D of FC for automobile and houses. For PEFC subsidies will be given to catalysts improvement in central units and to establishment of metrological and analytical technologies. Although PEFC for houses was commercialized, elucidation of fundamentals has not yet been done enough and there are still tasks to mass production of FC and its peripheries usable in cold climate and other various conditions. FCV is planned to be commercialized in 2015, and R&D will be promoted for mass production. For MEA unconventional ones will be searched to improve ion conductivity under high temperature and low humidity. For catalyst platinum, one of rear metal, is aimed to be reduced to 1/10. Beside the cost reduction, metrological and analytical technology should be established for elucidating mechanisms of chemical reactions and degradation. International standardization is also intended. The subsidies will be given through NEDO. The recruitment will be accepted and the research will be carried out by universities and companies. METI estimated the budget 5.1 billion yen in 2010. The theme will be technology to be installed in cars under severe conditions. FCCJ declared 2015 fiscal year as the year of promotion of FCV and hydrogen station, but FCV at present is 10 million yen per one car to 100 million yen per one car, and it is far to commercialization. This is one of causes that FCV is not yet mass produced. Based on long R&D experience, METI thinks that a part of R&D is done by experience but not theoretically [The Nikkan Kogyo Whimbun (business and technology) Dec. 30, 2009]
@The METI budget for 2010 fiscal year is total 14,424.4 billion yen, including general account and three special accounts. Comparing with the previous year budget, it is by 2.2% decreased, but budget for global warming is 515 billion yen and by 2.2% increased. Especially subsidy for home use solar photo generation is 40.1 billion yen and it is about twice of that for the previous year. Budgets for technology development are as follows; 4.08 billion yen for next generation solar photo generation (a new item), 5.1 billion yen for technology development for promoting PEFC real use (a new item), 5.6 billion yen for CCS demonstration, and 2.3 billion yen for windmill generation on the sea. Furthermore, 1.1 billion yen is allocated for smart grid and it is a new item. [The Kensetsu Tsushin Shimbun (construction) Jan. 7, 2010 and The Chemical Daily Jan. 15, 2010]
(2) Agency of Natural Resources and Energy, METI
@On Jan. 23, 2010 the agency decided that fixed buying price of surplus power from solar photo generation in 2010 fiscal year will not be changed. The price for residential facility is 48 yen/kWh, while that for residential facilities over 10 kW output and non-residential facilities is 24 yen/kWh. The subsidy at installation is going to partly changed since the new fiscal year, and facilities below 700,000 yen/kW are changed to facilities below 650,000 yen/kW as objects of subsidy. The price when FC etc. are installed together is not changed. [The Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun (business and technology) Feb. 27, 2010]
(3) Ministry of Education, Science, Culture and Sports
@To realize low carbon society the ministry will promote fundamental technology research in energy field such as FC, solar power generation and lithium batteries. For development of new materials and elucidation of materials degradation mechanism, most advanced research strongholds, such as a high-intensity positron accelerator (J-PARC in Tokai village) managed by Japan Atomic Energy Agency, an orbital resonance photon facilities (Spring 8 in Sayocho, Hyogo prefecture) by High Luminescent Photon Science Research Center and so on, will be made full use.. For these purpose the second supplementary budget for 2009 of about 4 billion yen was decided. In budgets for environment and energy, basic research networks to low carbon society (14 billion yen) and promotion of earth environments observation (5.1 billion yen) are included beside materials research. [The Denki Shimbun (electricity) Jan. 7, 2010]
2. PAFC Development and Business
@On Jan. 5, 2010 Fuji Electric Holdings Corp. announced that 100 kW PAFC, "FP-100i," which Fuji Electric Systems Corp. began to sell in 2009, received "Nikkei Excellent Product and Service Award." By unification of periphery facilities, the installation space became half of conventional systems, and the installation cost thus reduced to 1/10. The function of switching fuels from town gas to LNG at disaster and ability to use unused energy sources in the factory are also characteristic points. The sales target is annually 20 set at present, and keeping up the facilities, it will be annually 50 sets after 3 years, with future target of 100 sets. The price is about 1.2 million yen/kW including installation cost. [The Denki Shimbun (electricity) Jan. 6, 2010]
3. SOFC Development and Performance Improvement
(1) Hitachi Corp.
@The company succeeded in about 1.3 times increase in power density by the following modifications. In the outside of the SOFC anode (the fuel electrode) an auxiliary electrode was introduced, and it leads to about 18% decrease in resistance for electric current compared with conventional ones. Moreover, the cell structure was reviewed to shorten electric current path and to increase in power capacity about 1.3 times up to 0.39 W. It was confirmed by experiment that the introduction of the auxiliary electrodes and structure changes make no influence in the quality of the cells. The company is promoting real use of SOFC for homes. [The Nihon Keizai Shimbun Jan. 4, 2010]
(2) Nihon Shokubai Co., Ltd.
@The company produces electrolyte materials for SOFC in mass production scale. The products are thin sheet made by extending zirconia etc. The facility for the mass production is that sinters the sheet to about 1500 and the facility in Kyushu is modified in December of 2009 and the production capacity is increased 3.3 times to annually 2 million sheets. A US FC venture, to which the company supplied the electrolyte, is going to increase the production scale since April of 2010 to mass production of SOFC for business use in factories and hospitals. The company's scale up is to cope with this mass production. The production scale is equivalent to about 330 sets of business use FC of 100 kW output. [The Nihon Keizai Shimbun Jan. 5, 2010]
(3) Tokyo Institute of Technology and Tokyo Gas Co., Ltd.
@A group consisting of Tokyo Institute of Technology (Prof. Yamazaki and Prof. Araki) and Tokyo Gas Co., Ltd. invented new technology. High-temperature exhausted heat from SOFC is used to produce hydrogen from town gas, and then it is used in PEFC. The efficiency of this combined generation is high. Because high-temperature operating SOFC can operate not only hydrogen but also CO, the exhausted gas in hydrogen production containing CO and COQ can be reused. Thus the efficiency of the combined generation is over 50%. However, when the exhausted gas is introduced into SOFC as it is, it changes the temperature distribution in FC, and leads to troubles. The research group controls air supply to keep the temperature distribution. SOFC is highly efficient but it takes long time to start up, while PEFC can use hydrogen only but its start-up time is short. In an apartment house a certain amount power is supplied by PEFC, while hydrogen is stored. When the electric demand abruptly increased for instance operation of air conditioners, the stored hydrogen is used for PEFC generation. The demonstration is intended within 5 years. [The Nikkei Sangyo Shimbun (economy and industry) Feb. 6, 2010]
(4) Hitachi Corp. and Toto
@In cooperation the two companies developed SOFC of vertically striped cylinder type, in which the cylinder is bundled vertically. The operating temperature is 900 and air is flowed inside, while fuel is flowed outside. It is highly gas-tight, so that safety is high, and the life is long. In conventional cylindrical type, carbon contained in fuel tends to deposit on the negative electrodes to disturb gas flow.. That was a problem. By forming alumina cover on the surface, it was prevented. Moreover, the heating up and other methods were devised to prevent carbon from deposit. The variance in voltage was also decreased from conventional 5% to 2% or less. Arranging 360 cylindrical cells, 10 kW systems in real use level was assembled. They were operated over 3,000 hours, and the electric generating efficiency was about 40%, while the exhausted heat was recovered in form of hot water over 60. Thus the overall efficiency reached to over 80%. Real use in old peoples' homes is intended. [The Nikkeii Sangyo Shimbun (economy and industry) Jan. 13, 2010]
(5) Nippon Oil Corp.
@On Jan. 18, 2010 the company announced its policy of selling business use SOFC in 2011 fiscal year. The objects are convenience stores and chain small restaurants. Demonstration would be started in this summer. [The Sankei Shimbun and The Sankei Business Eye Jan. 19, 2010]
4. PEFC Elementary Technologies Development and Business
(1) Nissin Precision Machines Co.,Ltd.
@The company in Tokyo prefecture begins to develop technology to produce separators by press in low cost. Making full use of technology, which National Research Institute of Materials developed, the company establishes the technology until the end of March and sell them for FCV. The new materials are steels whose electric conductivity is increased by adding nitrogen. But its strength is 4 times higher than usual steel, so that the machining was a problem. The research institute noticed high level of the company's technology and requested pressing. [The Shinano Mainichi Shimbun Jan. 19, 2010]
(2) Okazaki Manufacturing Co.
@The Company in Kobe city begins mass production of micro-heaters for PEFC. At a factory in Kobe, Iwasaki, mass production equipments will be introduced and the system of 20,000 monthly production will be completed. The company already decided to supply them to several home use PEFC makers coping to future demand increase. The micro-heaters it is producing can be used in a reformer to control the temperature. The main material is M1 cable with inorganic insulating materials with thermocouple and conductors. The materials were appreciated by some FC maker in its endurance and quality. By introduction of mass production equipments, M1 cables of length and diameter the users required are possible to make. At present monthly production is 20,000, and thus it becomes the largest amount of supply in Japan. [The Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun (business and technology) Jan. 26, 2010]
(3) Asahi Glass Co., Ltd.
@The company is promoting MEA production coping to FCV propagation in 2015. High temperature and low humidity characteristics would be improved to simplify system. The company began electrolyte research in 1993 and a project team was organized in 1999 for full development, especially, on degradation and decomposition of fluorocarbon electrolyte in high temperature and low humidity. In 2004 it established stability in low humidity, and it was one of large steps toward real use in severe conditions of FCV. [The Nippon Jidosha Shimbun (automobile) Jan. 28, 2010]
5. "ENE₯FARM" Information
(1) Sekisui House Ltd.
@Accepted orders of Sekisui House' "Green First" with solar photo generation and ENE₯FARM are going well. In the end of Nov. it was over 1,000, and as of Dec.20, 2009 it is over 1,100. Number of received order of houses installed solar photo generation is about 6,000 from Feb. 2009 to Dec.20, 2009. Full sales of ENE₯FARM started in 2009, and applications of subsidy is over 2,800 according to FC Propagation Promotion Association. [The Jutaku Shimpo (house) Jan. 12, 2010, The Sanyo Shimbun Jan. 13, 2010 and The Denki Shimbun (electricity) Jan. 22, 2010]
(2) Saibu Gas Co., Ltd.
@On Jan. 20, 2010 the company opened "Energy Creation House" a two-storied house made of Japanese woods in R&D center of the company. It is a model house for peoples' experience of solar photo generation system and Enefarm. It was under construction for total 50 million yen. [The Denki Shimbun (electricity) and The Nishinihon Shimbun Jan. 21, 2010]
(3) Asahi Kasei Homes Co.
@The company strengthens business of three storied houses for urban area. It would begin to sell since Jan. 9, 2010 by the name of "Hebel Haus Flex G3." Energy related characteristics are the same as next generation energy saving performances of a long-term excellent house, and solar cells can be installed on the roof of the three storied part. Moreover, Ecocute, Enefarm and other future battery system could be installed. [The Denki Shimbun (electricity), The Tokyo Shimbun, and the Chunichi Shimbun Jan. 22, 2010]
(4) Tokyo Gas Co., Ltd. and Osaka Gas Co., Ltd.
@The two companies begins to fill up difference in surplus electric power price. That for solar photo generation is 48 yen/kWh, while that for double generation is 39 yen/kWh. Tokyo Gas Co., Ltd. fills up 10 yen/kWh and Osaka Gas Co., Ltd. 9 yen/kWh. The Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun (business and technology) Jan. 27, 2010]
6. FCV Forefront and Hydrogen RE Car
(1) Toyota Motor Corp. and Daimler AG
@The two companies are investigating possibility of common use of FCV basic .components and standardization. Collaboration will make international standardization of components and they intend to have leadership in development of next generation eco-friendly cars. Toyota Motor Corp. stated lease sell in US and Japan in 2002, but the objects are limited to be specific customers like regal persons, so that total sales are 32 sets. The lease rate is 840,000 yen monthly, and it would introduce mass production cars of reduced price in 2015. Trial cars will be made in July of 2012 in Motomachi Factory in Toyota city. Dymlar will start lease sales of about 200 cars of Mercedes-Benz FCV since the beginning of 2010, and making technological modification, it plans to sell in 2015. In industrial standardization of components, unified technological standardization, such as connectors of hydrogen injectors, hydrogen tanks capacities etc. are the objects. Injection pressure, rate, etc. are also common investigation themes. [The Tokyo Shimbun and The Chunichi Shimbun Dec. 31, 2009]
@Daimler begins to produce EV "E cell" based on small passenger cars "A class" At Rashtadt factory. In the beginning small scale production of about 500 cars will be produced and will be sold to some specific customers. High-performance Lithium batteries are installed, and it runs 200 km by one charge. [The Nihon Keizai Shimbun Jan. 14, 2010]
(2) Iwatani Corp
@On Jan. 13, 2010 the company announced that it purchased a RE car "Premacy Hydrogen RE Hybrid" running by hydrogen and gasoline made by Mazda Corp. The car will be used for sales at Kitakyushu sales division as well as enlightenment of hydrogen energy and collection of running data. The car will also be used to support "Hydrogen Highway Vision" by Fukuoka Prefecture. The lease price is 420,000 yen/month. [The Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun (business and technology) and The Chemical Daily Jan. 14, 2010]
7. Technology Development of Hydogen Production and Purification
@Prof. Takamura, an associate professor of Tohoku University developed ceramic membrane to extract oxygen from air for hydrogen production. By changing composition of ceramics and catalysts, it can be used continuously for over 650 hours, and it is in the same level as really usable membrane. The developed ceramic membrane permeates only oxygen, and by mixing oxygen thus obtained with methane and propane hydrogen can be produced at high efficiency. However, when it is used at high temperature from 800 - 1000, the performance tends to be degraded, and in conventional experiment it can be used only 1 - 2 hours continuously. Adding zirconia to ceramics made mainly of cerium, iron etc. improves its strength. Furthermore, by devising catalysts in the membrane and temperature in real use, metal ion in the ceramics diffuses in the membrane to prevent performance degradation. Stable operation over 650 was confirmed, and the real use is insight. It is expected that by using this it becomes possible to start up home use PEFC within 20 min, while the size of FC reduces to about 1/10. Applications to highly efficient burning and CCS are also expected. Real use after 5 years is aimed at. [The Nikkei Sangyo Shimbun Jan. 5, 2010]
8. Development of High Power DMFC
@Panasonic Corp. started development of DMFC of 100 W output. Wide Applications to out-door and leisure are assumed. In 2011 demonstration will start, and commercialization will be done after 1 - 2 years. They would be sold as clean electric power generator with a little COQ exhaustion and noise. At the same time small DMFC of 20 W has been used for notebook type personal computers, but to enlarge the output to 100 W, the volume of the main body will be enlarged to about 5.6 times. When a battery module consisting of 110 cells is combined with this 100 W DMFC, electric power necessary for a frig and an air conditioner in a camping car and other needs like illumination can be supplied for about 30 hours. The company started mass production of 3.1 Ah capacity since Dec. of 2009, and by improving materials and components the capacity increased to 4 Ah for a cylindrical cells to be mass produced in 2012 fiscal year. [The Nikkei Sangyo Shimbun (economy nd industry) Jan.. 1, 2010]
9. Development of Metrological Instruments Related with FC and Hydrogen
(1) Chino Corp.
@The company invested to a metrological instrument maker in Taiwan, and it specifies business to FC endurance testing instruments. Chino carries out a collaborative development and intends to increase sale. [Trhe Nikkei Sangyo Shimbun (economy and industry) and The Dempa Shimbun (radio wave) Feb. 5, 2010]
(2) Kyoto University
@A group (an associate professor Furuya, an associate professor Ueda et al.) developed a hydrogen sensor of low cost below 1/100 or less than conventional ones with simplicity and safety. It is made of nano-size and high-purity manganese dioxide particles of R type, in which migrate hydrogen ions. They were molded into a 10 yen coin size of 0.7 mm thickness and sandwiched with meshes of platinum electrodes. When the hydrogen concentration changes, the output voltage changes regularly, so that hydrogen concentration can be measured precisely. The price of manganese dioxide is below 1/100 of resins and easily available. Since now improvement of precision would be carried out and the real use would be intended in 3 years. [The Nihon Keizai Shimbun Feb. 11, 2010]
10. FC Related Business
@Nippon Synthetic Chemical Industry Co., Ltd. begins to produce new synthetic resin, which is better in gas sealing compared with conventional polyvinyl alcohol resin. The company is anticipating demand for FC and lithium ion batteries. The product name is "Nichigo G Polymer" and it is amorphous vinyl alcohol resin without crystal structure. It is made of ethylene and oxygen as it is the same as acetic acid vinyl resin (PVOH), but it is made controlling molecular structure. It is excellent in gas seal and it is 200 times higher than EVOH and 2 times higher than PVOH, while it is transparent, easy to be molded, and highly biodegradable with less environmental impact. The production capacity is about 1000 ton. The production started also in Kumamoto Factory, and the whole capacity of the company amounts to annually total 2,300 ton. [The Sanyo Shimbun Jan. 27, 2010]
------------ This edition is made up as of January 28, 2010. ---------------