Nissan Develops Ethanol Fuel Cell for Vehicles
The e-bio fuel cell generates electricity through the solid oxide fuel-cell (SOFC)-powered system. It uses bio-ethanol, produced from crops including sugarcane and corn, and generates hydrogen inside the car that is transformed from fuel via a reformer and atmospheric oxygen. This produces electricity to power the vehicle.
Nissan is target a cruising range of about 497 miles per fuelling, compared to the range for gasoline-powered vehicles of about 373 miles, Reuters reports.
According to Automotive News Nissan aims to bring the technology to market in fleet vehicles by around 2020. While the lack of a hydrogen fueling infrastructure has proven a big challenge to deploying traditional hydrogen fuel cell vehicles, an ethanol refueling infrastructure already exists, the publication adds.
To address the hydrogen infrastructure issue Nissan, along with Toyota and Honda, are working to develop hydrogen station infrastructure in Japan. Toyota and Nissan are also members of the US Energy Department’s public-private partnership focused on advancing hydrogen infrastructure for fuel cell vehicles.
In regards to its ethanol fuel cell technology, Nissan says other benefits to business include low running costs, similar to those of an electric vehicle, as well as a short refueling time and ample power supply that can support a range of services such as refrigerated delivery. Plus, ethanol is safer than hydrogen.
Nissan also says the ethanol fuel cell has a “carbon neutral cycle” because it’s produced from renewable crops. But as engadget points out “Bio-ethanol requires a lot of farmland, and it’s a stretch to claim that the plants would completely offset the carbon emissions involved in making this a reality.”
Toyota last year launched its Mirai fuel cell sedan — the first mass market fuel-cell car — and plans to expand production to to 2,000 units this year and 3,000 units in 2017.
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