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Japan Edit - May/June 2019

News International-French

1 Jul 2019

The Japan Edit is a monthly curation of business news and reports which have a direct impact on the Japanese - and global - composites industry.

Kawatex develops high-pressure hydrogen tank
The company is currently developing a high-pressure hydrogen tank using a lightweight carbon fibre-reinforced plastic (CFRP) with good heat resistance. This tank is intended for use in hydrogen stations. It should be market ready within three to four years.

Kawatex develops high-pressure hydrogen tank

The tank price makes it easy to produce for private companies with a limited budget. The current production cost is about 20 400 euros (2.5 million yen) per tank. In the future, it will be reduced to 8 000 euros (1 million yen) or even less by reducing the material procurement costs. In the current price range, most hydrogen stations are in the red and are no longer maintained.

The CFRP reinforced tank weighs about 1 ton. It is lighter than conventional thick metal products (5 to 10 tons) that can withstand pressure and are suitable for transportation. In addition to hydrogen stations, there is a demand for hydrogen cars.

A 60-litre tank for hydrogen cars is under development. This tank is manufactured by wrapping CFRP around an aluminium alloy container and reinforcing it. The material selection and manufacturing process have already been completed. The next development step is to test its durability. To do this, pressure will be applied from the inside until the container ruptures in order to identify the location of the damage.

Hydrogen tanks are being developed throughout the world and in Japan, Japan Steel Works’ Muroran plant in Hokkaido Islands is developing and selling them. Kawatex is one of the rare SMEs that have the know-how to process materials such as iron and FRP in large volumes, and it will gain a competitive advantage in the market. It can also supply tanks for converting gas stations to hydrogen stations.
More information: www.kawatex.co.jp - Read the original article

East JR manufactures two hydrogen fuel cell test vehicles

East Japan Railway (JR) is manufacturing a hybrid fuel cell vehicle based on two test vehicles (FV-E991 system) that use hydrogen as an energy source. From 2021, demonstration tests will be implemented on the operating routes of several JR lines, including the Tsurumi Line and a portion of the Nambu Line.

East JR manufactures two hydrogen fuel cell test vehicles

The FV-E991 system is a test vehicle equipped with a hybrid system that uses a storage battery as an electrical power source and a hydrogen-powered fuel cell. Its maximum speed is 100 km/h. One filling cruising range is about 140km at 70MPa filling. The estimated ratio is about 80km at 35MPa.

The main circuit unit consists of a main converter (step-up chopper + VVVF inverter) with two 1C2M series main motors operating at 95 kW x 4. There are 2 solid polymer 180 kW fuel cells (can be started from -10 degrees). The storage battery consists of two 25kWh lithium-ion batteries.

For hydrogen storage, the maximum filling pressure is 70 MPa, the hydrogen storage capacity is 51 litres x 5 x 4 units, and an automobile hydrogen tank (carbon fibre composite container) is used.

By introducing such vehicles, the company expects benefits such as energy diversification to secure energy stability in the future and to reduce CO2 emissions.

Using the FV-E991 system, the company is conducting demonstration tests under a practical environment to confirm safety, environmental performance, vehicle performance, etc.

These demonstration tests will be used to collect data about how to optimize fuel cell control technologies and develop technologies related to ground equipment, for the future commercialization of fuel cell vehicles.
More information: www.jreast.co.jp - Read the original article

Carbon para-badminton wheelchair

Matsunaga Manufactory researched and developed a new carbon badminton wheelchair and manufactured a prototype for evaluation with the cooperation of a designated player from the Japan Para-Badminton Federation.

Carbon para-badminton wheelchair

The company's first badminton wheelchair used aluminium as the frame material, but the new one uses CFRP (carbon fibre-reinforced plastic). During the para-badminton game, the burden on the player’s arms and wrists is large, so there is a strong need for weight reduction. The CFRP material is used for this reason and for its rigidity – its resistance to twisting.

In other sports such as athletics, CFRP has already been adopted for racing wheelchairs. The para-badminton wheelchair developed aims to save 20% weight or more compared to the company's conventional aluminium model. In addition, its strength should be higher (less deflection variation) in the direction of all three XYZ axes thanks to a new CFRP lamination method.

The disadvantage of carbon is that a single mould can only make one pattern size, but by using CFRP it is now possible to change the seat width and height even with a single mould. The company also aims to improve the seat’s stability and safety by using a 3D scan and making it easy to maintain a normal position using a tailor-made sheet that matches the athlete's body shape. Matsunaga will develop technology to reduce friction with the seat and prevent sores.

The prototype for evaluation was developed in collaboration with material manufacturers, sporting goods manufacturers and fitness equipment manufacturers. The main consortium members are Toray Carbon Magic, Bridgestone, Ashisuto, TDC, and Demand Creation. A representative player will test-drive a prototype to evaluate it, provide indications for improvements, and give feedback to the development team.
More information: www.matsunaga-w.co.jp - Read the original article