Nissan developing world’s first bio-ethanol powered vehicle system

The Nissan SOFC test bench. The SOFC fuel cell utilises the reaction of multiple fuels, including ethanol and natural gas, with oxygen to produce electricity with high efficiency - image courtesy of Nissan.
The Nissan SOFC test bench. The SOFC fuel cell utilises the reaction of multiple fuels, including ethanol and natural gas, with oxygen to produce electricity with high efficiency - image courtesy of Nissan.

Nissan is currently researching and developing a world-first system that will power vehicles with electricity generated from bio-ethanol.

The Nissan Solid Oxide Fuel-Cell (SOFC) powered system will run on bio-ethanol electric power, and features an e-Bio Fuel-Cell with an SOFC power generator.

The new system is a first for automotive use and is a fuel cell utilising the reaction of multiple fuels, including ethanol and natural gas, with oxygen to produce electricity with high efficiency.

The e-Bio Fuel Cell generates electricity through the SOFC (power generator) using bio-ethanol stored in the vehicle.

The e-Bio Fuel-Cell uses hydrogen transformed from fuel via a reformer and atmospheric oxygen, with the subsequent electrochemical reaction producing electricity to power the vehicle.

The e-Bio Fuel-Cell is different to conventional systems in that it features SOFC as its power source, affording greater power efficiency to give the vehicle cruising ranges of over 600km (372 miles), which are similar to existing petrol powered cars.

Nissan announces development of the world’s first SOFC-powered vehicle system - image courtesy of Nissan
Nissan announces development of the world’s first SOFC-powered vehicle system – image courtesy of Nissan.

The e-Bio Fuel-Cell car also has distinct electric drive features including silent drive, linear start-up and brisk acceleration.

Fuel-cell systems such as Nissan’s e-Bio Fuel-Cell use chemicals that react with oxygen, generating power without the release of harmful byproducts, with bio-ethanol fuels including those sourced from sugarcane and corn widely available in countries throughout North and South America and Asia.

Nissan zero emissions and zero fatalities

Nissan is developing its SOFC-powered vehicle system as part of the pursuit of realising a society with zero-emissions and zero-fatalities from cars.

The company hopes that the e-Bio Fuel-Cell will help realise this future alongside its overarching Nissan ‘Intelligent Power’ concept, which includes other vehicles such as the Nissan LEAF and e-NV200.

The Nissan LEAF was the Japanese car maker’s first battery electric vehicle when it was released in December 2010, with the acronym of its name standing for leading environmentally-friendly affordable family car.

The LEAF was named the 2011 European Car of the Year, the 2011 World Car of the Year, and the 2010 Green Car Vision Award.

As of April 2016, the Nissan Leaf is the world’s all-time best selling highway-capable all-electric car.

Nissan’s development of the world’s first SOFC-powered vehicle system that runs on bio-ethanol electric power continues the Japanese automaker’s recent tradition of leading the way in the production of electric cars

The introduction of vehicles featuring SOFC will most likely be delayed from Nissan’s initial plan of 2017 but the company said it hopes to commence fleet sales by 2020.