Nissan announced today that it is currently researching and developing a Solid Oxide Fuel-Cell (SOFC)-powered system that runs on bio-ethanol electric power. 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.
The Nissan 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, affords greater power efficiency to give the vehicle cruising ranges similar to gasoline-powered cars. In addition, the e-Bio Fuel-Cell car’s distinct electric-drive features—including silent drive, linear start-up and brisk acceleration—allow drivers 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.
In a traditional fuel cell system, the vehicle is fueled by pressurized hydrogen pumped into a high-pressure tank at a special service station. The e-bio system enables hydrogen to be generated from bio-ethanol inside the car using a special reformer to generate hydrogen on-board, meaning the vehicle can be filled with a relatively commonly available fuel at a conventional pump. Nissan also says the ethanol can consist of up to 55 percent water to make it cheaper to fuel up.