(1) Tokyo Institute of Technology
An associate professor Yashima of Tokyo Institute of Technology, a professor Ishihara of Kyushu University and others developed technology to display ionic currents in SOFC electrode in a three-dimensional graphics. When the temperature is increased, the paths open and their thickness increases. It would be useful in development of electrode materials in which the current occurs even in a low temperature range. Optimizing chemical components of the electrode materials, the electric power efficiency would be increased to about 1.5 times and it also be expected to lead to low cost. The applied method is neutron diffraction used for solid materials crystal structure analysis. Obtained atomic density distribution was transformed to the three dimensional graphics. Experiments were done to see oxygen distribution in praseodymium nickel oxide air electrode of SOFC. The oxygen distribution was observed by heating from 17℃ to 1016℃. In a low temperature range, the oxygen is localized in limited areas, but at about 600℃ the limited areas are contacted to each other to form paths for flowing oxygen ions and the paths becomes thick. [The Mainichi Shimbun and The Nikkei Sangyo Shimbun (economy and industry) Feb. w, 2010]
(2) Kyoto University
Prof. Shimakawa, Prof. Ichikawa of Kyoto University and co-workers have found that in oxide named brownmilerite of perovskite-structure oxide ions flow even in a low temperature of 300℃. For SOFC electrolyte mainly yttrium stabilized zirconia is used now, while other oxides in which other perovskite-structure oxides of lined octahedrons, are investigated. . The research group directs attention to oxide of calcium and iron of the same structure, and it found that the oxide ions migrate, seeing movement of oxide ions. By deposition using pulse laser single crystal of this material was formed on the substrate up to about 100 nm. Two types of the thin film, i.e., perpendicular deposition and lateral deposition, were made, and calcium hydride was added as reducing reagent. Observing part of oxygen dissociates from the substitute to the above, the rates are different. The research group thinks that the above fundamental knowledge would be combined to the development to produce low-temperature operating high-performance SOFC. [The Kyoto Shimbun Feb. 8, 2010, The Sankei Shimbun, The Nikkei Sangyo Shimbun (economy and industry) and The Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun (business and technology) Feb.9, 2010]
2. Elementary and Related Technology Development of PEFC
(1) NanoMembrane Technologies Inc.
This chemical venture in Tokyo developed by itself electrolyte membrane of metal oxide. In PEFC usually organic membrane is used as electrolyte. However, to increase ion conductivity, when the thickness is decreased, often the membrane breaks. This company makes thin film of nano meter order thickness by centrifugal force on liquid metal oxide, and 10 to 30 sheets of the thin film are laminated to use it. The thickness becomes 1/1000 of conventional membrane, but it is superior in strength, heat resistance etc. Using commercial electrodes, it made medal shape FC of 5 cm2. The electric efficiency was about 42% of the theoretical efficiency. Until now the theoretical efficiency was not achieved, but the demonstration is going to be made by summer of 2011 to aim at the sample shipping in summer of 2012. [The Nikkei Sangyo Shimbun (economy and industry) Feb. 4, 2010]
(2) Hokkaido University
Prof. Yonezawa and his group in technology graduate course of Hokkaido University developed an equipment of microwave liquid plasma, with which plasma can be formed continuously. Using this equipment they succeeded in easy continuous production of various metal nano-particles. Because metal attached catalyst can be made, application to FC catalysts and various organic reaction catalysts are expected. The mechanism of nano-particle of metal in liquid plasma is thought that hydrogen radical formed by the plasma reduces metal ions. Furthermore, it is observed that high-temperature area formed by plasma and metal spattering occurs. If metal for making nano-particles is used as electrodes, metal nano-particles can be produced. [The Chemical Daily Feb. 15, 2010 and The Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun (business and technology) Feb. 18, 2010]
(3) National Research Institute for Advanced Industrial Science and Technology and Shinkou-Kagaku Co., Ltd.
In collaboration the above two developed an equipment for continuous production of metal nanao-particles of uniform quality. In the national research institute developed technology for irradiation of concentrated and uniform microwave at a reaction tube with a semiconductor microwave generator. Furthermore in collaboration they succeeded in real use of continuous synthetic process. Metal nano-particles are used in catalysts, electrodes of secondary batteries and FC etc., while production cost and stable qualities are important factors, so that mass production equipments and continuous production are needed. [The Tekko Shimbun (iron and steel) Feb. 18, 2010]
(4) Sumitomo Chemical Industries Co., Ltd.
The company carried out development of proton conductive membrane using hydrocarbon film. Real use is anticipated in 2015. It is superior to fluorocarbon film in hydrogen leakage, and the company is considering its business for stationary generators and FCV. [The Chemical Daily Feb. 16, 2010]
(5) Sumitomo Corp. and ACAL Energy
The two companies (ACAL Energy is an English venture.) developed PEFC in which electrode catalysts are replaced by inexpensive compounds, and platinum catalysts are not used at all in the cathodes, while in the anodes platinum amount is by 90% reduced. The trial FC is going to be shown in "FC EXPO" to be open since March 3, 2010. Furthermore, controls of heat and water are simplified, so that the cost down of system and the improvement are expected. An inventor of "Flow Cath", Mr. Andrew Creeth will give a lecture. [The Tekko Shimbun (iron and steel) Feb. 22, 2010]
3. Enefarm Business
(1) Panasonic Denko
The company developed wooden houses particular about CO２ reduction, and they are named "Ecoie". The company accepted solar photo-electric generation and thermal insulating materials for highly efficient air conditioning. Construction corporations in alliance is going to sell them since Feb. 2, 2010. Rain water reservoirs "Rain Cellar" for home garden, residential fuel cell "ENE FARM" and a systems measuring dailly energy consumption "ECO Manesystem", etc. can be installed as options. In harmony with the area plan for the house is considered taking accounts of solar light, vent etc. The company will try to reduce CO２ by more than 60% compared with the houses built in 1990. The sale target in 2010 sells tears year is 100 or more/. [The Yomiuri Shimbun Feb. 1, 2010]
(2) Panasonic Corp.
As to next generation Enefarm model, the company promotes to cope to overseas market in addition to domestic market. The next generation model is assumed to be commercialized within 3 years, and the present model for domestic market will also be used, even if gas composition and specification of electric power system are different from those in Japan, by modifying fuel reformers, inverters etc. The company intends to increase Enefarm sales to 60 - 100 thousands yen in 2015. The price of the present model is over 3 million yen, so that global business deployment is essential to reduce the cost by mass production effect. [The Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun (business and technology) Feb. 2, 2010]
(3) Astomos Energy Corp.
On Feb. 2, 2010 the above company in Tokyo announced that it begins to sell LP gas fueled Enefarm for cold climate prefectures, such as Aomori and Nagano since April. The company and Toshiba Fuel Cell Corp. developed it in collaboration. To the standard model published in July of 2009, thermal insulation was improved, and snow effect was taken into accounts, so that it can cope to - 20℃. The body price of the standard system is 3.25 million yen and they said "The price of the cold climate specification would be by 10% higher." Hokkaido Gas Co., Ltd. also developed cold climate version of town gas specification in cooperation with Panasonic Corp. and they will sell it in 2011. [The Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun (business and technology) and The Hokkaido Shimbun Feb. 3, 2010]
4. FCV Forefront
TOKi Engineering Co. in Fukuoka city and National Research Institute for Advanced Industrial Science and Technology developed together metal packing, "DY ring," for jointing hydrogen piping. It is a characteristic point that it can be used repeatedly in 70 MPa high pressure hydrogen environment. Its application to hydrogen gas containers is expected. The material is stainless steel "SUS3161" and the inner diameter is 14.5 mm. In replace of O ring which tends to blister break by hydrogen gas, it can be used as metal packing repeatedly. The price is 3,000 yen. The inner surface of the ring is uneven, and DY ring is pressed to attach to the jointed surface. The higher the inner pressure, the more tightly attached the ring. It is tested in hydrogen gas and it is confirmed even in 70 MPa dose not leak the gas.. [The Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun (business and technology) Feb. 23,, 2010]
5. Hydrogen Station Related Technology and Business
On Jan. 28, 2010 Honda Motor Corp. announced that it started demonstration of small size home use hydrogen station with solar photo generation system. It is going to supply hydrogen to Honda "FCX Clarity" and hydrogen is produced with one equipment consisting of water electrolysis, solar photo generation and hydrogen compressing. Hydrogen production and compressing are done with an equipment, so that noise is little and it can run about 50 km by 8 hour hydrogen charging. [The Nihon Keizai Shimbun, The Sankei Shimbun, The Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun (business and technology), The Nikkan Jidosha Shimbun (automobile), The Chunichi Shimbun, The Fuji Sankei Business Eye, The Chenical daily Jan. 29, 2010, The Denki Shimbun (electricity) Feb. 1, 2010, The Nikkei Sangyo Shimbun (economy and industry) Feb. 2, 2010 and The Chugoku Shimbun Feb.. 8, 2010]
6. Development of Bio-FC
Prof. Kato, Prof. Tsujimura and others developed FC generating power using sugar content in fruits like apples. By sticking an electrode into apples, 1/10 power of solar cell can be obtained. LED can work for overnight by one apple. It is a bio-FC, in which the sugar content is decomposed by microbe and enzyme. On one electrode enzyme is attached to form acetic acid and hydrogen ion from carbohydrates, and on the other electrode enzyme of fungus is attached. It works until the sugar contents are exhausted. [The Hihon Keizai Shimbun Feb. 15, 2010]
------------ This edition is made up as of February 25, 2010. ---------------