Nissan developing new solid oxide fuel cell system for vehicles

June 16, 2016 1 By John Max

New fuel cell system will make use of bio-ethanol rather than hydrogen

Japanese automaker Nissan has announced that it is researching and developing a solid oxide fuel cell system that will be used to power vehicles. The system is being designed to run on bio-ethanol, which will be used to generate electrical power. The new system is meant to serve as an alternative to hydrogen fuel cells, which have been growing in popularity throughout the transportation space for some time. The system will be complimented by what is called an e-Bio Fuel cell.

e-Bio Fuel Cell will work alongside solid oxide system to generate electricity

The e-Bio Fuel Cell will generate electrical power through the solid oxide fuel cell system. This will be accomplished using bio-ethanol that is stored within the vehicle. The vehicle will be equipped with reformer technology that will leverage atmospheric oxygen to produce an electrochemical reaction. This reaction is what generates the energy that the vehicle will use to operate. According to Nissan, its new fuel cell system is more efficient than conventional alternatives and may be less expensive than other fuel cells that are currently available.

Biofuels are safer than hydrogen fuel, which may make fuel cell vehicles more attractive to consumers

Solid Oxide Fuel Cell System Research by Nissan - Nissan logo on steering wheelBio-ethanol is safer to handle that hydrogen fuel, which may make it easier for vehicles using this type of fuel to reach consumers. In the past, some have expressed concern over the safety of hydrogen, as it is quite a volatile substance. Automakers using fuel cells have invested heavily in making durable hydrogen storage tanks to allay these concerns. Bio-ethanol can still be used by some fuel cells to generate electrical power, alleviating some safety concerns that consumers may have.

Clean transportation is gaining more attention from the auto industry

Nissan has been investing in clean transportation for some time. The automaker offers electric vehicles in the commercial market and has been showing more interest in fuel cells. While many automakers have shown support for this technology, few are developing fuel cell vehicles. This is partly due to the high cost of fuel cell technology, but also due to the lacking hydrogen infrastructure available in many markets. As such, alternatives to hydrogen fuel cells are beginning to gain more attention.

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