Nissan developing ethanol-based fuel cell
Nissan has announced plans to develop ethanol fuel cells for future production vehicles.
Like existing fuel-cell systems implemented by Toyota, Hyundai and Honda, the ethanol approach still relies on hydrogen and oxygen to produce electricity. Nissan’s approach adds another layer of chemical processing, however, that eliminates the need to store hydrogen in a pressurized tank.
The technology will presumably rely on a miniaturized steam reformer to convert ethanol into hydrogen that can immediately be used to produce electric via a solid oxide fuel cell (SOFC).
“Ethanol-blended water is easier and safer to handle than most other fuels,” the company suggests. “As this will remove limits on creating a totally new infrastructure, it has great potential for market growth.”
Running costs are claimed to be “remarkably low” and competitive with today’s electric vehicles, despite the additional costs of an on-board reformer. Range is expected to be similar to gasoline-powered vehicles, allowing drivers to cruise for more than 600 km (373 miles) before refueling.
Nissan is said to be eyeing commercialization by the end of the decade.