(1) Agency of Natural Resources and Energy
@On March 29, 2011 Agency of Natural Resources and Energy decided "Technology strategy for Energy Saving" in which specific technology fields to contribute for future energy saving of country are selected. This is a guideline for completion of targets in "Fundamental Energy Program" to be achieved in 2030. For this purpose, development of energy saving technology and its domestic and international propagation should be promoted. This is also a guideline for economic growth by world highest energy saving technology. Through discussion among experts, technology of larger effects in energy saving are selected by new combination and new frontiers. Scenarios of technology development and introduction are made for each field. Main technologies in home and business are ZEB and ZEH. Integrating energy saving and load reduction in frameworks and overall control, the energy consumption shall be reduced. Furthermore, increasing power consumption shall be decreased with IT devises, such as "Energy Saving Information Equipment and System." Stationary FC of improved efficiency was also suggested. Technology to be developed by collaboration among multiple fields was described, and next generation heat pump system was shown as an example. System technology such unutilized heat, high efficiency heat recovery, storage and high efficiency technology under low load technology should be developed together with innovative elementary technology such as new coolant and high performance heat exchangers. Thus improved efficiency and cost shall be realized together with reduction of greenhouse effect gas. [The Nikkan Kensetsu Kogyo Shimbun March 30, 2011 and The Dempa Shimbun (radio wave) April 1, 2011]
@On April 4, 2011 NEDO announced that demonstration of hydrogen supply infrastructure etc. for propagation of FCV is undertook by Nippon Steel Corp. Technology demonstration of FCV, hydrogen supply infrastructure is going to be done in Kitakyushu city etc. Overall economic rationality and convenience will be verified. The period of demonstration is 5 years. [The Tekko Shimbun (iron and steel) April 5, 2011]
@NEDO decided 5 items including partner, HySUT, of collaborative research on hydrogen supply infrastructure and social demonstration. In 2015 demonstration service will be started for general users on real use conditions and users' convenience, business possibility, social acceptability etc. will be investigated. Solutions for tasks in initial period of propagation are the purposes. NEDO is going to pay 2/3 of the cost. Study of technology and social demonstration will be done by HySUT, and 4 organizations, i.e., Yamanashi Prefecture, Tosu City of Saga Prefecture, Kyushu University in Fukuoka prefecture and Kitakyushu Hydrogen Station will carry out local demonstrations. Demonstration in Tosu city was proposed by Tosu Overall Environmental Development Center and Saga City. Hydrogen will be supplied by hydrogen station using wood bio-mass.
[The Chemical Daily April 6, 2011]
2. Policies by Local Government
@Recently Osaka Prefecture selected active undertakers, who carry out spread and promotion activities to wide varieties of people on next generation energy facilities in the prefecture, like large scale solar photo-generation (Mega Solar) and heat utilization facility. The undertaker is OSAKA ENEPA Collective Organization consisting of Pasona Co.,Ltd. and JTB West (Japan Tourist Bureau West). They will make various publicities, while they also are planning sight-seeing courses visiting these facilities. The prefecture office selected 17 next generation energy facilities in Osaka prefecture and called "Osaka Bay Area-Next Generation Energy Park. Thus Osaka is trying to make image of Osaka as a new Energy city. Mega solar and bio-mass facilities in Sakai and a hydrogen station for FCV in Izumisano are included, and EV taxis are described. In February of 2011 the above park was recognized as A Next Generation Energy Park by Agency of Natural Resources and Energy. Osaka Prefecture will promote real spread, while it is accepting application of undertakers for spreading new generation energy. [The Denki Shimbun (electricity) April 12, 2011]
3. Development and Demonstration of PAFC
@On April 11, 2011 Fuji Electric Systems Corp. announced that it succeeded in PAFC operation in out-door using digestive gas in Yamagata Prefecture Sewage Treatment Center for about 2000 hours. This operation demonstrates that PAFC can work out of doors in cold climate area at about -20, and the company intensifies sales activities in north Japan such as Hokkaido and Tohoku. The PAFC used in this demonstration is output 100 kW scale and the generating efficiency is about 40 %. Town gas and heavy hydrogen formed in iron manufacturing can be used. To set it out of doors in climate area necessary equipment are put in one package , and layout was done considering heat flow. By influence of Tohoku and Kanto disaster on March 11, 2011 general power supply was stopped, but this particular power supply was continued. The company said "Power shortage is anticipated in summer, so that intensifying new energy development, we would support power supply in Japan." [The Fuji Sankei Business Eye April 12, 2011 and The Denki Shimbun (electricity) April 13, 2011]
4. SOFC Development Trend
@Hitachi-Metal Co., Ltd. developed separators for SOFC, "ZMG23213" and "ZMG232G10." It is going to start the shipment in May. By changing the content of manganese and chromium in conventional product of "ZMG2321," and resistance against oxidation is increased by twice. The newly developed separators are based on ferrite alloy, and manganese (0.3 %) and chromium (24 %) are contained. In G10 copper is added furthermore (1 %). Electric power efficiency is decreased by chromium, which attacks electrodes, and it is reduced by reducing chromium vaporization. The strength is improved by about 20 %. The company anticipates that SOFC market will become real about 2015 and it is planning new business by the new products. [The Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun (business and technology) April 8, 2011]
5. Development of PEFC Elementary Technologies
(1) Yamanashi University Research Center
@Nano-Material Research Center of Yamanashi University begins collaborative research with Takahata Precision Co.,Ltd. (Fuefuki City), which has developed and produced high precision parts for automobiles etc. Yamanashi University and the company are going to make use of seal technology for cost reduction and downsizing to prevent liquid leakage. The company said "it provides the university with technology as a local firm to contribute FC real development. [The Yamanashi Nichinichi Shimbun April 9, 2011]
(2) Syvec Corporation and Sun KK Co., Ltd.
@The above two companies are both located in Nagano prefecture, and the former is a press machining company, while the latter is a surface treatment company. They succeeded in trial making of separators of titanium alloy, and the thickness and the size are 0.1 mm and 240 X 320 mm. The ditches for the flow channels are made in high precision with narrow pitches, and rhodium is electroplated at the same time. At present electric power generation is going on with stacks of 20 cells, and good results are obtained. The two companies are making large ones for installation on cars, while low cost is explored. [The Chemical Daily April 25, 2011]
6. Development of AFC
@A research group in Tokyo Metropolitan University developed AFC (AMFC, alkaline membrane fuel cells). Polymer membrane used in PEFC is highly acidic, so that noble metal, platinum, is used as electrode catalyst because of its acid-resistant characteristics. In this AFC cells water and oxygen react to form hydro-oxide ions which reacts with fuel in the oxidation reaction. It is the mechanism of AFC. Therefore, the electrolyte membrane is less corrosive and inexpensive metal and non-metallic catalysts can be used. The group of the university developed new membrane of silicone. For real use increase in the output is necessary, so that they aim at triethyl-amine acid and explores synthetic conditions to increase ion exchange capacity. [The Chemical Daily April 14, 2011]
7. Development of Regenerative FC
@Takasago Thermal Engineering developed water electrolysis equipment to produce hydrogen and oxygen by electrolysis and storage equipment producing water from hydrogen and oxygen with unified cells. This company has been developed system supplying electric power, heat and hydrogen to business buildings together with Daiki Ataka Engineering and National Research Institute for Advanced Science and Technology. This is one of elementary technology constituting the system. Since 2008 fiscal year the company has carried out cooperative development with JAXA. The present level of development is 3kW output level. Making use of research results in this fiscal year, they anticipate real use of hydrogen using system in 2017. The newly developed unified cells of water electrolysis and FC is called unified regenerative cells (URFC), and power generation is possible by storing hydrogen and oxygen formed by electrolysis. The electrolysis is possible by storing water formed by power generation. Thus URFC system works repeatedly charging and generating by storing products. Storing pressures of hydrogen and oxygen are the higher, the energy density is the higher. Therefore, higher energy density could be expected than conventional batteries. [The Kensetsu Tsushin Shimbun (construction) and The Nikkan Kensetsu Kogyo Shimbun (construction) April 18, 2011]
8. EneFarm Spread and its Problems
(1) Power Failure and EneFarm Operation
@Because of severe power shortage, makers of solar cells and FC receive many inquiries on a question whether these can be used in blackout. FC needs general power for motors in it, so that FC does not work in blackout. It also might become in disorder when blackout happens during its operation. Solar cells generate little power. In the home page, Tokyo Gas Co., Ltd. announced that the users are requested to switch off FC before scheduled blackout. FC and solar cells have large significance for their contribution against power shortage, but over-expectation is not allowed. EneFarm has merit to reduce fee for gas and electricity by 50,000 - 60,000 yen per year, and 10,000 sets or more were sold in all over Japan from 2009 to 2010 fiscal year. [The Yomiuri Shimbun May 30, 2011]
(2) Hokkaido Gas Co., Ltd.
@On April 4, 2011 Hokkaido Gas Co., Ltd. published business program in 2011 fiscal year. "EneFarm" for cold climate area using town gas and home-use co-generation system, "Coremo." are going to be sold. Furthermore exploitation will be intensified. Considering power shortage due to the nuclear power plant accident, propagation of all electrified houses will be decreased, and town gas usage will be spread. Sale of EneFarm (made by Panasonic Corp.) is going to start in August and sales of 150 sets is forecasted. [The Denki Shimbun (electricity), The Hokkaido Shimbun April 5, 2011 and The Dempa Shimbun (radio wave) April 6, 2011]
(3) Toho Gas Co., Ltd.
@The above company completed business program in 2011 fiscal year. Gas sales are by 1.1 % increased. However influence by disasters in Japan are not included, so that the review is needed. In the program of home use products, new model of EneFarm will be sold, and sales of ecojozu and gas floor heating will be intensified. Sales target of EneFarm in 2011 fiscal year is 600 sets. [The Denki Shimbun (electricity) April 6, 2011]
(4) Hiroshima Gas Co., Ltd.
@On April 7, 2011 Hiroshima Gas Co., Ltd. announced 2011 fiscal year business program and medium term management program for 2011 - 2013 fiscal years. In these programs the following targets of home use products are written; hot water suppliers 2720 sets, air conditioners 4140 sets, and EneFarm 110 sets. The investment for facilities is 6 billion yen and it is by 2.5 billion yen increased. [The Denki Shimbun (electricity) April 8, 2011 and The Nikkan Kensetsu Shimbun April 14, 2011]
@FCA, i.d., Fuel Cell Association begins to accept applications of subsidy for EneFarm. FCA will examine objectives of the subsidy. After the acceptance by FCA the construction will be begun. The deadline of the application is January 31, 2012 and the deadlines for completion of installations and for application are May 12, 2012. [The Dempa Shimbun (radio wave) April 13, 2011]
9. Forefront of FCV and EV
(1) Toyota-body Co.,Ltd.
@The above company announced on March 30, 2011 that it completed "The 5th Toyota-body Environmental Activities Plan." As the environmental activities to be carried out in the future, construction of low carbon society and recycling society are included together with formation of environment-preserving and co-existing society. Furthermore, it will be promoting research and development to products of component of EV and FC. Development of light products is described. Technology for designing and production will be studied. [The Nikkan Jidosha Shimbun (automobile) May 31, 2011]
(2) Seoul Motor Show
@Since April 4, 2011 Seoul Motor Show was opened near Soule, and 139 companies were participating. Hyundai Motor Company, the largest motor company in Korea, announced that it started to sell its major HV sedan of medium size based on "Sonata" in April. In May it would be shown together with a concept car of hydrogen FCV in Korea. Kia Motors Corporation under Hyundai Motor Company, also showed HV which uses the same body as Sonata. An EV concept car "Nemo" was open first. [The Nikkei Sangyo Shimbun (economy and industry) April 1, 2011, The Nikkei Sangyo Shimbun and Nikkan Jidosha Shimbun (automobile) April 7, 2011]
10. Hydrogen Station Business
(1) Osaka Gas Co., Ltd.
@Osaka Gas Co., Ltd. opened hydrogen station in its Piping Technology Center in Osaka city. Using "Hyserve" for making hydrogen by reforming town gas, hydrogen is produced, and the capacity of hydrogen production is 30 m3/h, while hydrogen storage capacity is about 200 m3, which can charge continuously 2 passenger cars. Making technology verification, the results will be used for decision of investment in hydrogen station infrastructure. Large equipment of 250 m3/h are also developed. [The Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun (business and technology) April 4, 2011]
(2) Honda Motor Co., Ltd.
@On April 20, 2011 the above company announced that it is going to set "Solar Hydrogen Station" in Saitama Prefecture Office by the end of 2011 fiscal year, and it makes hydrogen from water by solar photo generation. The company presented one FCV "FCV FCX Clarity" to Saitama Prefecture and it is made use of FCV charger, while the FCV will be used in demonstration of next generation personal mobility done in cooperation with Saitama Prefecture. In this Clarity AC outlet is set as power source to be supplied to outside. So that it can be used as mobile power sources. Furthermore, it can be used as emergency power sources and as a part of smart grid. In solar hydrogen station solar cells are combined with high pressure water electrolysis system, high pressure hydrogen tank and charging nozzle. Thus equipment of mall size and low noise can be made. [The Nikkei Sangyo Shimbun (economy and industry), The Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun (business and technolohy) and the Saitama Shimun April 21, 2011]
11. Development of Hydrogen Production and Storage
@Biocoke Lab.,Ltd. (Tokyo) begins to make real business of magnesium hydroxide (MgH2). Because of large absorption amount per unit mass and easy handling, the company aims at real use as hydrogen carrier for FC, while it also promotes commercialization in industrial and life-related field, like hydrogen water, powder products, etc. At present the company carried out development of direct reduction of magnesium hydroxide, which forms at hydrogen release. It aims at establishment of new business model of hydrogen usage including recycling. [The Chemical Daily, April 13, 2011]
12. Development and Commercialization of DMFC
@Toyo Spinning Co., Ltd. developed system coping with natural disasters and traffic accident by combining a DMFC power generator, a pure water production equipment and an apparatus for infection disease. At emergency, when power sources are hard to get, the DMFC generator "Proton Cube" can supply power to systems of illumination, water supply, communication, etc. silently and for long time. For the pure water production equipment and a sewage treatment equipment, ultra-filtration (UF) and reverse osmotic membrane (RO) are applied, and water in rivers and lakes can be used. Furthermore, an infection detecting apparatus "POCube," developed by the company, and a gene analysis apparatus "GEECube) are attached, and urgent detection can be done. [The Chemical Daily April 7, 2011]
13. Development and Business of Metrology Apparatus Related to FC and Hydrogen
@On May 1, 2011, Primix in Osaka city begins to sell "Fillmix 30-30" which is one of mixer series of "Fillmix" and it is suitable for small amount FC material test. Expensive platinum catalyst sample test can be done with small amount. The price is 1.5 million yen. The company anticipates to sell annually total 50 sets for development divisions of makers or research institutes. A wheel with round holes is rotated at high speed, and using difference in speed between high speed liquid and wall, particles are dispersed homogenously. This is the characteristic point of the machine. Especially Fillmix 30-30 is specified to dispersion of small amount sample of 7 - 13 mL. To avoid metal contamination, all parts, which may contact with the liquid, are replaced by ceramic parts. By changing wheel rotating speed, size of the particles can be controlled. Because of a few operating factors and good reproducibility, experimental time can be short. [The Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun (business and technology) May 31, 2011]
14. FC Business by Company
@The above company in Toyobo group promotes full proposition activity of ultra-thin rubber sheets "pera-pera-kun" This is made by unified molding of various engineering plastics film and the rubber. Gasket for PEFC is made of PET, polyethylene naphthanate (PEN). polyether amide (PEI), etc. On both surfaces silicone rubber or EPDM rubber is mold and unified. The thickness is changed in 0.15 - 0.30 mm range. Substrate film is used so that it is stiff and easily handled. [The Chemical Daily April 13, 2011]
------------ These articles are extracted from the Japanese version made up of April 25, 2011. ---------------