Nissan prototypes ethanol-reforming fuel-cell car

August 11, 2016 // By Julien Happich
Currently tested in Brazil, a country that adopted long ago sugar cane-derived bio-ethanol as its main motor fuel, the e-Bio Fuel-Cell prototype vehicle runs on 100-percent ethanol or ethanol-blended water to charge a 24kWh battery, boasting a cruising range of more than 600km.

The zero-emission vehicle relies on a Solid Oxide Fuel-Cell (SOFC) that first reforms the ethanol into hydrogen (and CO 2), the hydrogen is then used to generate the electricity powering the car. The small amount of CO 2 generated is offset by the process of growing the sugar cane, the company says in a presentation video.

The fuel cell prototype forms part of Nissan’s on-going commitment to the development of zero-emission vehicles. Nissan already sells the LEAF, a 100% electric car, but with the new fuel cell, the company will enable faster recharge (at the pump in countries like Brazil where the infrastructure already exists) and longer driving range.

Nissan plans to conduct further field tests on public roads in Brazil with the new prototype.

The e-Bio Fuel-Cell is claimed to offer low-running costs equivalent to an EV, with a driving range of a gasoline-engine vehicle.

Bio-ethanol fuels are mainly sourced from sugarcane and corn. These fuels are widely available in countries in North and South America, as well as Asia, with solid infrastructure in those markets. Due to the easy availability of ethanol and low combustibility of ethanol-blended water, the system is not heavily dependent or restricted by the existing charging infrastructure, making it easy to introduce to the market, according to Nissan.

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