Japan’s special pottery industry: promote the popularization of fuel cell vehicles with high-efficiency hydrogen production modules

Japan’s Special Ceramics Corporation has recently developed a hydrogen production module, which is the core component of the hydrogen refueling station that is indispensable for the popularization of fuel cell vehicles (FCV). In the development process, Japan Special Ceramics made full use of core technologies such as the joining of heterogeneous materials cultivated in the field of auto parts.

Japan’s Special Ceramics Corporation has recently developed a hydrogen production module, which is the core component of the hydrogen refueling station that is indispensable for the popularization of fuel cell vehicles (FCV). In the development process, Japan Special Ceramics made full use of core technologies such as the joining of heterogeneous materials cultivated in the field of auto parts.

“The marathon of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics is likely to use a fuel cell vehicle (FCV) that uses hydrogen as fuel and does not emit carbon dioxide as the pilot vehicle.” Masaya Ito, Director of AD Development, Japan Special Ceramics Technology Development Headquarters full of expectation. To achieve this goal, hydrogen refueling stations are indispensable. Minister Ito is the person in charge of the development of modules that use city gas and other hydrogen production.

 Strive to be practical in 2020

In January 2011, Toyota Motor Corporation, Nissan Motor Corporation and Honda Corporation, three automakers, and 10 energy companies, a total of 13 companies issued a joint statement. The content is that by 2015, in the four major cities, Pan Xun, 8 Yu, Xing Muna felt and Rendou FCV mass-produced vehicles, about 100 fuel hydrogen supply infrastructures will be established, and It is the hydrogen refueling station.

The hydrogen refueling station at this stage can be said to be still at the level of empirical experiments. Minister Ito stated that Japan’s special ceramics industry is currently developing with the goal of “realizing practical use by 2020”. This is because the company believes that FCV will really begin to spread by then. In addition, according to the blueprint published by the Fuel Cell Practical Promotion Council of Japan (FCCJ) in 2010, it is envisaged that there will be 2 million FCVs in Japan by 2025. Based on the calculation of 2000 vehicles using one hydrogen refueling station, a total of 1,000 will be installed. Hydrogen refueling station.

Japan Special Ceramics has formulated a mid-term management plan under the banner of “Japanese Special Evolution Theory”. The theme from 2010 to 2012 is “deepening”, the theme from 2013 to 2015 is “innovation”, and the theme from 2016 to 2018 is “evolution”. We will strive for 9 years to promote existing and new businesses. Achieve development. Following the three-year “deepening” of discovering its strengths, starting from 2013, it has entered a three-year “renewal” phase of challenging new products and new businesses.

The key areas of new products and new businesses are the environment, energy and new-generation automobiles. High hopes are also placed on hydrogen modules related to these three fields.

Improve efficiency with self-developed catalyst integration

Hydrogen refueling stations are roughly divided into two types, on-site type and off-site type. The former is to reform city gas, etc., produce hydrogen and supply it at hydrogen refueling stations. The latter transports hydrogen manufactured in other locations to hydrogen refueling stations for supply. For example, by-product hydrogen from smelters and chemical plants is recovered and refined and transported to hydrogen refueling stations.

The hydrogen production module developed by Japan Special Ceramics is used in on-site hydrogen refueling stations. As one of the projects of Japan’s New Energy Industry Technology Development Organization (NEDO), Japan Special Ceramics has been developing in cooperation with Japan’s Tokyo Gas Company. The project ended in March this year, but the joint development of the two companies continues.

Japan’s special pottery industry: promote the popularization of fuel cell vehicles with high-efficiency hydrogen production modules

The purpose of this development project is to develop a new method, compared with the original method, make the device smaller and lighter, reduce manufacturing costs, and improve energy efficiency.

In the original method, the device for reforming city gas and the like to obtain hydrogen is separated from the device for separating and extracting hydrogen from it, and so on, it is difficult to achieve the small and light weight of the device, and it is not conducive to reducing the manufacturing cost.

Therefore, Japan Special Ceramics has developed a method of forming a hydrogen separation membrane in the reaction tube and filling it with a granular reforming catalyst. Compared with the original method, it is more conducive to achieving small and light weight and reducing costs. In addition, the reforming temperature can be reduced from 700°C to 800°C to 500°C to 550°C, which is lower than 200°C, and energy efficiency is greatly improved.

However, there are problems with this approach. The performance of the particulate reforming catalyst is reduced due to factors such as the influence of the hydrogen separation membrane, and high durability cannot be obtained.

So the Japanese special pottery industry improved the method and developed a new method. The reforming catalyst and the hydrogen separation membrane are integrated. An alloy of palladium (Pd) and silver (Ag) is used to form a hydrogen separation membrane on the surface of the tubular porous ceramic support. And the reforming catalyst nickel (Ni) is compounded on the porous ceramics.

Japan’s special pottery industry: promote the popularization of fuel cell vehicles with high-efficiency hydrogen production modules

 Make full use of the knowledge of dissimilar material joining

The ceramic material uses a composite oxide of yttrium (Y) and zirconium (Zr)-yttrium stabilized zirconia (YSZ). This is also a ceramic material used in solid electrolyte fuel cell electrolytes and automobile engine oxygen sensors.

However, even with this new method, there are still several issues to achieve excellent durability.

One of them is the bubble and peeling of the hydrogen separation membrane. In order to solve this problem, researchers have improved the adhesion of the hydrogen separation membrane to the porous ceramic support. Specifically, it is to expand the pores on the surface of the porous ceramic, and make the hydrogen separation membrane plated on the surface penetrate deep into the pores. In this way, the adhesion of the film is improved, and the problems of bubbles and peeling are solved.

Another problem is that the raw gas will leak from the joint between the module itself and the stainless steel joint. This is because only glass fiber sealing materials cannot obtain sufficient sealing performance. Therefore, the R&D personnel adopted a double design in which glass is sandwiched to improve the sealing performance. The strength of the porous support is insufficient to firmly fix the joint, which is also a reason. Therefore, the R&D personnel changed the end of the module itself to a fine ceramic without pores to improve the strength.

In solving these problems, Japan Special Ceramics makes full use of its core technology that has been continuously “deepened” through the field of auto parts. By solving each problem in a down-to-earth manner, before the end of the project at the end of March this year, Japan’s special ceramics industry finally solved the basic problem of realizing practicality. The purity of hydrogen obtained by reforming city gas exceeded the target value of 99.99%, reaching 99.999%. In the 8000-hour continuous reforming experiment, the purity of the hydrogen obtained did not decrease, confirming that the hydrogen production module has high durability.

Minister Ito stated that the future issue is “cost reduction and long-term reliability.” In terms of cost reduction, the knowledge and experience of mass production technology possessed by Japan’s Special Ceramics Industry is highly anticipated. As for the long-term reliability, Minister Ito said: “Our goal is to be able to continue to use for about 5 to 10 years while maintaining performance.” To achieve this goal, at least the same time of experimentation is required. There are still seven years to go before the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, and the remaining time can be said to be running out.

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