The Japanese are taking fuel cells very seriously and here's a figure that confirms this: two out of three fuel cell patent applications from 1998 to 2004 were made by Japanese companies (total patents were 32,209). Compared to the US and Europe, Japan filed 2.5 times more patents than the US and 2.9 times more than Europeans.

More than 15 percent of the filings were made by three Japanese auto manufacturers, Nissan, Toyota and Honda, which filed 1,980, 1,546 and 1,526 applications, respectively.

Regarding the type of technology, most of the applications featured proton-exchange membrane fuel cells (81-83 percent), then solid-oxide fuel cells (10-12 percent) and direct methanol fuel cells (5-7 percent). The three territories in which the study was made showed similar percentages.

Japan is really believing in the hydrogen-based society and is really betting on having fuel cell vehicles in widespread use by 2030. But it's more than cars that are potential users of fuel cell technology; fuel cells can be used for household co-generation systems and portable electronics or for projects that are more fun.

[Source: Japan for Sustainability]

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