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Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Nissan is developing a bio-ethanol fuel cell

Hydrogen fuel cells are seen by many as an ideal replacement for internal combustion engines. However, the technology has some big hurdles to overcome, not least how to produce pure hydrogen on a cost-effective basis and then distribute it via a refuelling infrastructure.

Those obstacles have prompted Nissan to begin work on an 'e-Bio' solid oxide fuel cell. This uses bio-ethanol as a primary fuel, which is a fermented compound of carbon, hydrogen and oxygen sourced from crops such as corn or sugar cane.

The system delivers bio-ethanol from an on-board tank to a reformer unit, where hydrogen is extracted. Then, after being fed into a fuel cell, the hydrogen has an electromechanical reaction with atmospheric oxygen that generates electricity. A battery and electric motors complete the powertrain.

Nissan e-Bio Solid Oxide Fuel Cell Schematic

Bio-ethanol isn't necessarily a perfect solution, though. In particular, critics decry the huge area of arable land required to grow sufficient quantities of biomass.

Nissan hasn't said when a vehicle featuring its bio-ethanol fuel cell might be launched.

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