Japanese Companies and the Moonlight Project

At the same time that phosphoric acid fuel cells were being demonstrated in Japan, Japanese companies were developing their own fuel cell technology with support from the government (as reviewed by Appleby and Foulkes, 1989). The goal of the Moonlight Project in Japan was to develop energy conversion systems with efficiencies higher than those attainable in 1974. In 1981, fuel cell technology was transferred from the Sunshine Project to the Moonlight Project as part of a ten-year plan to develop fuel cell power plants of the 1-MW scale. Phosphoric acid fuel cell technology received the majority of the funding between 1981 and 1986 ($30 million out of $44 million; 1985 dollars, 250 yen = $1.00). The goal for phosphoric acid fuel cells was to demonstrate two 1-MW power plants operating on reformed fuels in 1986. In 1987, the project was extended to 1995 because of advances in molten carbonate fuel cell technology.

The 1-MW power plants could be generated by either "dispersed" or "central" construction. Mitsubishi Electric Company and Fuji Electric Company were to build together the lower-pressure (4.87 atm) dispersed fuel cells, and Hitachi Limited and Toshiba Corporation were to build together the higher-pressure (6.8-7.7 atm) central type. While working together to construct the power plant, the companies also pursued their own technology independently; by doing it this way, they expected to have a greater number of combinations of technologies from which to choose when settling on the final design.

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