Eco-business / Social Venture

October 11, 2007


Japanese Automakers Round Out Top 3 in Fuel Cell Patent Applications

Keywords: Eco-business / Social Venture Energy Conservation Government Manufacturing industry Renewable Energy 

Japanese applicants accounted for 67 percent of the 32,209 fuel cell patent filings in Japan, the U.S. and Europe from 1998 through 2004, according to the fiscal 2006 report on fuel cell-related patent applications published by the Japan Patent Office on May 9, 2007. The number of filings by Japanese applicants was 2.5-times greater than that by American applicants, and was 2.9-times larger than that by European applicants. In particular, more than 15 percent of the filings were made by three Japanese auto manufacturers -- Nissan Motor Co., Toyota Motor Corp., and Honda Motor Co. -- which filed 1980, 1546 and 1526 applications, respectively.

In the countries surveyed, patent applications on proton-exchange membrane fuel cells (PEFC) were most common, accounting for 81-83 percent of all applications, followed by those on solid-oxide fuel cells (SOFC) at 10-12 percent, and those on direct methanol fuel cells (DMFC) at 5-7 percent. The ratios were almost the same in all countries. Patent applications began to increase for PEFC in 1998, for SOFC in 2001 and for DMFC in 2002.

Japan is seeking to create a hydrogen-based society by such means as realizing widespread use of fuel cell vehicles by 2030. In 2007, fuel cell technologies in Japan are beginning to enter the commercialization and popularization phases.

Fuel cells are also expected to be useful for household cogeneration systems and portable electronic appliances. In view of such future uses, efficiency and durability need to be drastically improved, size and costs need to be reduced, and social infrastructure, including fuel supply stations and safety standards, needs to be developed.

Posted: 2007/10/11 11:47:42 PM
Japanese version