THE LATEST NEWS NUMBER 181, 2011
〜Commencement of FC Scooter Demonstration at Kitakyushu Hydrogen Station 〜

Arranged by T. Homma
1. State Initiatives
2. Development of FC Component Technology
3. Business Development of PAFC
4. Technology and Business Development of SOFC
5. Business Development of ENE-FARM
6. FCV Frontier
7. Hydrogen Station Utilities

1. State Initiatives
 In FY 2011, Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) has appropriated 8.7 billion Yen (approx. 113 million USD) for subsidy for the introduction of "ENE-FARM" (28 percent increase than the previous year), with a maximum payment of 1.05 million Yen per case. It was estimated that nearly 8000 subsidy applications would be received. According to the PEFC-based (Polymer Electrolyte Fuel Cell) promotion roadmap prepared by NEDO (New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization) in 2010, the sales of fuel cell systems in national market were predicted to climb to a peak in 2015. Hence it is recognized that the role of the subsidy in supporting the promotion "will reach a critical moment in coming 4 or 5 years." (Mr. Nawata, assistant director of Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Promotion Office, Agency for Natural Resources and Energy) (Dempa Shimbun, May 18th, 2011)

2. Development of FC Component Technology
(1) Osaka University
 A team led by Professor Ogoshi and Assistant Professor Ohashi at Osaka University developed a new technique which can simply produce the resin raw material for ion-exchange membrane - a main component of the fuel cell. It is a one step synthetic approach based on the cross-coupling reaction. By mixing "tetrafluoroethylene" with Palladium, lithium iodide and organozinc compound as catalysts, the carbon-fluorine bond will break and the carbon atoms will bond with molecules of the organozinc compound, thus generating the "trifluorostyrene derivative" required as the raw material for ion-exchange membrane. Generally, this material has to be produced by a multi-step process using CFC alternatives as the raw material. However, the new method replaces the original process with just one step and the specific raw material with commonly-used industrial materials. Ordinarily, the carbon-fluorine bond is too strong to break, making the cross-coupling reaction difficult to realize. Now, the research team has discovered an easy method to break the carbon-fluorine bond by using Palladium and lithium iodide, therefore enabling the cross-coupling. It is conceivable that the new method can be used to produce various materials by altering the structure of the organozinc compound. (Nikkei Sangyo Shimbun, May 10th, 2011)

(2) Kyoto University
 By mixing two kinds of metals on the atomic level using Nanotechnology, Professor Kitagawa at Kyoto University with a team from Kyushu University has successfully produced a new alloy which has a nature similar to that of the Palladium, a rare metal commonly used as an exhaust gas purifying catalyst. The new alloy exhibits a Hydrogen storage capacity about half that of Palladium. It is said that, with the progress of the research, an alternative metal of precious Palladium will possibly be developed and serve as the material of Hydrogen-powered fuel cells. The method applied by the research team is as follows: same volume of silver and rhodium, which has one more and one less proton than Palladium respectively, are dissolved in water; the solution was sprayed into alcohol heated to 180°C - 200°C, bit by bit; alloy particles with a diameter of 10nm were obtained. Ordinarily, rhodium and silver are difficult to alloy with each other. However, the research team has found a way to mix them uniformly. (Tokyo Shimbun, Nishi Nihon Shimbun, May 22nd, 2011)

3. Business Development of PAFC
 Fuji Electric recently designed an industry-oriented PAFC (phosphoric acid fuel cells) system. The new product reduces the cost to half of those of original models and is supposed to be sold to hospitals, buildings, factories and the like. As a means to respond to the increasing demand for private power generation spurred by the Great East Japan Earthquake and power shortage, the system is provided with an output of 100kW and an acquisition cost of 80 million Yen. In addition, it is integrated with other peripheral equipment such as the waste heat treatment device, thereby reducing both the footprint and the cost. The new system can enable, for instance, a hospital with an inpatient capacity of 300 beds to perform emergency operation during power outage. In case the city gas network is wrecked in a disaster, it can use its stored propane gas to keep on generating power. On April 1st, Fuji Electric assigned a group of staff from the New Energy System Department to formulate a dedicated work team for fuel cell-related tasks, with a purpose to promote the sales of FC systems in both national and international markets from very few per year to about 20 sets every year. (Nihon Keizai Shimbun, April 27th, 2011)

4. Technology and Business Development of SOFC
 Nippon Shokubai Co., Ltd. intended to grow its business in SOFC (solid oxide fuel cells) materials and aimed to increase the sales of FY2010 (ended March 31, 2011) by 50 percent to about 3 billion Yen in FY2011 (ended March 31, 2012). The company has pioneered the commercialization of SOFC materials in 2000 and kept on promoting it as a core next-generation business. By leveraging self-developed ceramics powder processing and firing techniques, the company is running business related to the production and sales of zirconia electrolyte sheets for SOFC and cells made by placing electrodes on such electrolyte sheets. The company has invested one billion Yen in deploying a mass-production line with an annual productivity of 3 million pieces and plans to further expand their production line on the basis of the forecast of demand for next-generation products. If things goes well, the further investment may reach several hundred million Yen at the end of 2011. The company plans to achieve a sales goal of 5 billion Yen by the end of FY2015 ending March 31, 2016 - the last year of the mid-term business plan. (Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun, May 9th, 2011)

5. Business Development of ENE-FARM
(1) PanaHome Corporation
 On April 26th, PanaHome announced the release of affordable detached houses for disaster areas of the Great East Japan Earthquake. By compromising room layout options for such houses, the cost of raw materials and construction was lowered. For one-story houses (65m2 floor spaces), the minimum price was set at 14.2 million Yen. On the other hand, the company will promote the sales of solar power generation systems together with ENE-FARM so as to release the peak electrical demand and nationwide power shortage in the summer and respond to the requirement of national energy-saving initiatives. For this purpose, PanaHome will launch a promotion program called "Double Power Generation Campaign", under which customers who purchase the solar power generation system and ENE-FARM together will be eligible for a certain amount of refund or a discount for the floor-heating option. (Nikkei Sangyo Shimbun, April 27th, 2011)

(2) Osaka Gas Co., Ltd.
 Osaka Gas opened its showroom "DILIPA Hikone" in Hikone city, Shiga Prefecture. The new showroom was designed with exhibition areas for the residential gas cogeneration system "ECOWILL" and the double power generation mechanism combined by ENE-FARM and the solar power generation system, etc. (Denki Shimbun, May 11th, 2011)

6. FCV Frontier
 Honda established a vision to realize the mass-production of fuel-cell vehicles (FCV) in 2015. Honda R&D Co., Ltd., the development section of Honda, stressed that "the objective is to lower the cost (of fuel-cell vehicles) to the level of today's electric vehicles" and intended to take the first step to limit the cost to no more than 5 million Yen by taking advantage of the benefits of mass-production. The vision also included the preparation of about 100 Hydrogen stations to provide Hydrogen energy across the country before the end of 2015. Although Honda's FCV-specific model named "FCX Clarity" has already been designed by a production preparation department of Honda in Tochigi prefecture and released to the American market and the Japanese market respectively in July and November 2008, the cost of it is too expensive. According to the vision, a focus will be placed on technology development for enabling the mass-production model to share the same parts as existing models, minimizing the size of on-board systems and reducing the use of Platinum. Besides, the production is anticipated to be allocated to mass-production bases in Saitama prefecture and other locations in the future.
 In respect of the next-generation ECO car, both Honda and Toyota plan to continue their extensive development in all fields, including HV (hybrid vehicles), PHV (plug-in hybrid vehicles), EV (electric vehicles) and FCV (fuel-cell vehicles), to satisfy different customer requirements. (Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun, May 19th, 2011)

7. Hydrogen Station Utilities
(1) Toyota Motor Corporation
 On May 10th, Toyota Motor announced the commencement of operation of a joint-venture FCV Hydrogen station with Royal Dutch Shell in the site of Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., Inc. (TMS) in California, U.S. It is a "pipeline-fed" Hydrogen station, which means Hydrogen is stably supplied through pipeline from a remote production location. The facility will be open to fuel-cell vehicles delivered by Shell and in trial from other manufacturers. Toyota Motor targeted to introduce its fuel-cell vehicles to the American market before the end of 2015. (Nihon Keizai Shimbun, May 11th, 2011; Nikkan Kogyo Shimbun, Chunichi Shimbun, Nishinippon Shimbun, May 12th, 2011; Nikkei Sangyo Shimbun May 13th, 2011)

(2) Fukuoka Prefecture, Kitakyushu City, Nippon Steel Corporation
 On May 17th, the opening ceremony of the demonstration of Suzuki's fuel-cell scooter was held at Kitakyushu Hydrogen Station in Higashida, Yahata-higashi ward, Kitakyushu city. Kitakyushu Hydrogen Station was jointly established by the Fukuoka prefecture government and Nippon Steel Corporation, JX Nippon Oil & Energy Corporation as well as Iwatani Corporation and completed in September 2009. The government proposed to make Higashida a "model town" of hydrogen energy where a station fed by hydrogen produced by Yahata Iron Factory of Nippon Steel Corporation was employed to pipeline hydrogen to demonstration houses and commercial buildings equipped with fuel-cell systems. The FC scooter demonstration this time included technical presentation and demo run of the demonstration vehicle "Burgman Fuel-Cell Scooter" which has obtained European Whole Vehicle Type Approval. (Nihon Keizai Shimbun, Nikkei Sangyo Shimbun, Nishinippon Shimbun, Shizuoka Shimbun, May 18th, 2011; Nikkan Jidosha Shimbun, May 19th, 2011; Tekko Shimbun, Chugoku Shimbun, May 20th, 2011; Nikkan Jidosha Shimbun, May 21st, 2011)


------------ These articles are extracted from the Japanese version made up of May 23, 2011. ---------------