ADDRESS: Shimotakatsu 2-14-3, Tsuchiura, Ibaraki 300-0812, JAPAN
ESTABLISHED: 28 July 2008
CAPITAL: 5 million yen

1. Outline of the Company:

TFCL was established in 2008 under the "Venture Business Laboratory" program of AIST, with the basis of low temperature fuel cell technology, which was nurtured by "New Sunshine Program" of Agency of Industrial Science and Technology, former Ministry of International Trade and Industry and present AIST.

During the past more than ten years, AIST accumulated a reserach potential in the field of (1) Fuel cell investigation technology, (2) new materials on electro-catalysts and polymer electrolyte membrane and (3) system technology, and disseminated them as research papers, books and patents to the world. AIST also contributed in persuing cooperations among universities and industries.

From those experiences TFCL continues to contribute as a partner to the fuel cell industries and local communities, promote R&D based on AIST reserach potentials.

TFCL building

TFCL has moved its office to Tsuchiura on April 1, 2013, after 4 and a half years of venture activities in AIST Tsukuba center cite. Located near the traditional business area in Tsuchiura, TFCL will contribute as a new member of the local business district, to the development of Tsuchiura city.

TFCL will contribute to the development of fuel cell industry and promotion of related technologies and solution of global warming issues through the following activities:
1. New materials (electro-catalysts and polymer electrolyte membranes, etc.) related to fuel cell components and their marketing
2. Development and sales of measuring and evaluaiton technologies related to fuel cells
3. Development and sales of peripheral technologies (sensor, etc.)
4. Development and sales of small scale direct liquid fuel cells for portable applications
5. Other related activities.

Visions of the company: TFCL aims a new emerging and developing company working with fuel cell industries.

2. Background ability for research and development in TFCL

TECHNOLOGY: Low cost and reliable measuring apparatus utilizing "electrochemical techniques"
TARGET: Versatile equipments catching conditions of fuel cells
FEATURE: Testing apparatus incorporating the gas reaction models
PRODUCTS: Testing equipments for product lines, Measuring apparatus for R&D, Instruments for model developments

3. Sales for products

Testing apparatus for membrane electrode assemblies (MEA) - major components of fuel cells
Measuring methods and instruments for materials development
Especially, standard testing apparatus for R&D

Fuel cells - important technology

Polymer electrolyte fuel cells (PEFCs) and direct liquid fuel cells (DLFCs) are now an important technology, ranging from basic materials research to applications such as system developments. Fuel cells are expected to be a key technology to solve the issue of energy and environments that are becoming a serious problem in this century. The principle of fuel cells had already been found about 160 years ago, but recent technological efforts had to be done before this is commercially established. There are however, still many challenges to overcome in order to meet the requirements for fuel cells such as efficiency, cost and longevity, etc, and innovation of material technology is desired.

Presently, about 70% of the energy consumed by humans is supplied from fossil energy. Burning carbon brought about the negative heritage of global warming problems today. We have to reduce the C content from the total fuel progressively, and utilize natural energy with high efficiency (conversion, storage and transmission). Hydrogen economy should be such an option, and the shift from large-scale central power generation to local distributed power source would be the future trend.

Fuel cells are regarded as the "Ace of high energy utilization society". Fuel cells are the energy generator that converts chemical energy directly into electrical energy without burning process, and theoretically attain more than 80% of energy conversion efficiency. Comparing with internal combustion engines like gasoline or turbine engines that make only 35% efficiency, fuel cells are highly efficient energy converters, and moreover, clean facilities since they do not emit exhaust gas, particles or noise.

Before TFCL was established, the laboratory had been involved in the polymer electrolyte fuel cell project of "New Sunshine Program" of the Agency of Industrial Science and Technology in the former Ministry of International Trade and Industry from the incubation stage, and has 10 year potential in the research activity. Our efforts in PEFC have been engaged in polymer electrolyte, impurity and degradation problems, catalysts etc., and now cover not only basic research but also application technologies.

We understand that the aim of TFCL is to establish technologies based on original seeds, and very much appreciate help and suggestions from the outside.

Words form the Director

Tsukuba Fuel Cell Laboratory, Inc. was founded in2008 as a venture company in the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST), which aims to produce new materials and related evaluation methods in fuel cell technology. Fuel cells are recognized in recent years as the environment benign electricity generator, and are being marketed in various fields: They are expected as the next generation technology for growing industries.

The principle of fuel cells was discovered in the early 19th century, but due to the difficulty in technical problems, major practical achievements were done after the space age in USA. Commercial application of fuel cells was stimulated from around 1990, and 20 years of efforts by precedent pioneers are bearing fruit now.

People may think: "In this time the Ene-farm (stationery fuel cells) and FCV (fuel cell vehicles) are realized commercially, is it necessary to do researches on fuel cell technology?" The fact is that, the major problems of the fuel cell technology are actually not resolved yet. One of them is very high cost of elements of fuel cells, which prevents consumers from accepting as attracting products. The efforts to resolve these problems are continuing for more than 50 years.

A good feature of fuel cell generator is a high energy efficiency that does not depend on its size. It has a potential to be used from high (100kW type in FCV) to low (some 10W system for mobile equipments) levels of electricity generators. To find new horizons for fuel cell applications is also an attractive subject.

These problems are all challenging, but Tsukuba Fuel Cell Laboratory considers it as its vocation, to pursue these challenges, and to contribute to the development of fuel cell industry. We support basic and applied researches, as well as commercial stage of the product researches, by developing new materials and related material evaluation methods. Your cooperation will be appreciated. Let's get going!

Photo of director