Nissan Developing Electric Cars Powered By Ethanol Fuel Cells
Nissan, on its own pursuit of a zero emission society for passenger vehicles, is still searching for new alternatives for all-electric and hydrogen fuel cell cars.
To that end, the Japanese manufacturer just announced a research project with Solid Oxide Fuel-Cell (SOFC)-powered systems that runs on bio-ethanol.
It’s a similar concept to the hydrogen fuel cell, just with ethanol, or ethanol-blended with water, to generate electricity – and then everything operating as per the norm – with an electric motor propelling the wheels.
We wouldn’t suspect that Nissan, after all the extensive spending on BEVs, is seriously interested in all-new technologies like bio-ethanol fuel cells, but the company is still committed to working projects on-the-side to continue learning, and gauging the viability of alternative technology.
According to the press release, running costs of e-Bio Fuel-Cell would be roughly on par with today’s EVs. Range could be north of 600 km (370 miles) and refueling will be pretty quick – like with fuel cell technology, the question of the infrastructure and delivery of fuel would still be one of the main concerns
The next question is whether it will ever live beyond demonstration project?
“The new system— a world first for automotive use—features an e-Bio Fuel-Cell with an SOFC power generator. SOFC is a fuel cell utilizing the reaction of multiple fuels, including ethanol and natural gas, with oxygen to produce electricity with high efficiency.
About e-Bio Fuel-Cell
The e-Bio Fuel Cell generates electricity through the SOFC (power generator) using bio-ethanol stored in the vehicle. The e-Bio Fuel-Cell utilizes hydrogen transformed from fuel via a reformer and atmospheric oxygen, with the subsequent electrochemical reaction producing electricity to power the vehicle.
Unlike conventional systems, e-Bio Fuel-Cell features SOFC as its power source, affording greater power efficiency to give the vehicle cruising ranges similar to gasoline-powered cars (more than 600km). In addition, the e-Bio Fuel-Cell car’s distinct electric-drive features—including silent drive, linear start-up and brisk acceleration—allow users to enjoy the joys and comfort of a pure electric vehicle (EV).
Fuel-cell systems use chemicals that react with oxygen, generating power without release of harmful byproducts. Bio-ethanol fuels, including those sourced from sugarcane and corn, are widely available in countries in North and South America, and Asia. The e-Bio Fuel-Cell, using bio-ethanol, can offer eco-friendly transportation and create opportunities in regional energy production, while supporting existing infrastructure.
When power is generated in a fuel-cell system, CO2 is usually emitted., With the bio-ethanol system, CO2 emissions are neutralized from the growing process of sugarcane making up the bio-fuel, allowing it to have a “Carbon-Neutral Cycle,” with nearly no CO2 increase whatsoever.
The Future of e-Bio Fuel-Cell
In the future, the e-Bio Fuel-Cell will become even more user-friendly. Ethanol-blended water is easier and safer to handle than most other fuels. As this will remove limits on creating a totally new infrastructure, it has great potential for market growth.
Running costs will be remarkably low—on par with today’s EVs, ultimately benefitting the public as well as businesses, because the e-Bio Fuel-Cell is an ideal fit for wider customer needs because of the short refueling time and ample power supply that can support a range of services such as refrigerated delivery.
The Quest for a Zero-Emission Society
In pursuit of realizing a zero-emission and zero-fatality society for cars, Nissan continues to promote vehicle intelligence and electrification. Nissan’s brand promise of “Innovation That Excites” is delivered with “Nissan Intelligent Mobility”, which focuses on how cars are powered, driven and integrated into society through a more enjoyable driving experience.
The e-Bio Fuel-Cell will realize the concept of “Nissan Intelligent Power,” promoting greater efficiency and electrification of cars and the joys of driving, alongside battery EVs, such as the “Nissan Leaf”, “Nissan e-NV200,” and “e-Power,” which is equipped with an engine housing an exclusive large-capacity motor and power generator.
Nissan will continue to provide value to its customers by incorporating systems that enable the extraction of electric power from various fuels, while addressing the infrastructure issues tied to energy supply in every region of the world.”