Make / Model Search

News - Nissan

Nissan evolves fuel-cell tech

Bundy run: Nissan's experimental fuel-cell system is fuelled by ethanol that is fermented and distilled from sugarcane.

Bio-Ethanol SOFC fuel cell boosts Nissan EV performance, range and efficiency

16 Jun 2016

NISSAN is developing a new fuel-cell vehicle powertrain that, according to the Japanese car-maker, will allow its future electric vehicles to go further, faster and with a “carbon-neutral cycle”.

Like existing fuel-cell-powered EVs, Nissan's new cell uses hydrogen to generate electricity but, until now, the fuel has been produced externally in industrial-scale processes, before being distributed to refuelling stations.

While some environmentally friendly methods exist for creating the fuel, such as solar, almost all hydrogen made in Australia is through energy-heavy steam reformation of natural gas, but Nissan's system performs the conversion internally.

Instead of filling the fuel tank with processed hydrogen, the Nissan system uses a more energy-dense fuel – ethanol – which is converted into hydrogen in transit, allowing a range of more than 600km, says Nissan.

Another advantage of the innovation is that the ethanol can be distilled from renewable organic sources such as sugarcane or corn – dubbed e-Bio fuel – which effectively locks CO2 emissions into a continuous cycle for a carbon-neutral process.

Complementing the more self-contained electricity generation process is a new type of solid oxide fuel cell (SOFC), which uses the reformed hydrogen more efficiently and has a greater output than more conventional noble metal fuel cells.

“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,” said Nissan.

It is the first time a fuel cell of its kind has been used in a vehicle application according to Nissan, and the substitution of expensive metals such as platinum for the ceramics used in the SOFC has the potential to reduce component costs.

The on-board reformer releases some carbon dioxide to the atmosphere but the only emission from the fuel-cell stack is water vapour, which is formed by combining hydrogen with atmospheric oxygen to produce electricity.

As a flammable liquid, pure ethanol can pose a safety hazard, but Nissan is also trialling an experimental ethanol-blended water as a fuel for the new system, which is safer to handle and store, and is simpler to create supporting infrastructure, says Nissan.

If released in a production vehicle, the Nissan EV powertrain would compete with Toyota's FCV and the ix35 Fuel Cell from Hyundai, but the pair of production fuel-cell rivals rely on gaseous hydrogen as a fuel.

Read more

Click to share

Click below to follow us on
Facebook  Twitter  Instagram

Nissan articles

Motor industry news

GoAutoNews is Australia’s number one automotive industry journal covering the latest news, future and new model releases, market trends, industry personnel movements, and international events.

Catch up on all of the latest industry news with this week's edition of GoAutoNews
Click here