Nissan Takes Wraps Off of World’s First Solid-Oxide Fuel-Cell Car

Nissan has come out with the world’s first solid-oxide fuel-cell prototype car.

The light-commercial vehicle runs on bio-ethanol electric power. That means it can use multiple fuels, such as ethanol and natural gas.

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“The e-Bio Fuel-Cell offers eco-friendly transportation and creates opportunities for regional energy production,” Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn said in a press release. “All the while supporting the existing infrastructure. In the future, the e-Bio Fuel-Cell will become even more user-friendly. Ethanol-blended water is easier and safer to handle than most other fuels. Without the need to create new infrastructure, it has great potential to drive market growth.”

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Nissan is working on building zero-emission cars, and this fuel-cell prototype is part of that effort. In this case, the vehicle can run on 100 percent ethanol, which charges a 24-kWh battery, and Nissan promises a cruising range of more than 600 kilometers, or about 372 miles. In addition to ethanol, the e-Bio Fuel-Cell can also run on ethanol-blended water.

The e-Bio Fuel Cell generates electricity by using the solid-oxide fuel-cell, with the bio-ethanol stored in the vehicle’s tank providing the fuel source. The e-Bio Fuel-Cell uses hydrogen transformed from the fuel through a reformer as well as atmospheric oxygen, with the following electric and chemical reaction producing the electricity that’s used to power the prototype.

Nissan will be conducting tests on public roads in Brazil. The e-Bio Fuel-Cell is promised to be carbon-neutral (meaning that any carbon dioxide emitted is offset by the process of growing the crops that are used to create the fuel) while also running silent like an EV with the cruising range of a standard gasoline-engined vehicle.

Bio-ethanol fuels are mainly sourced either from corn or sugarcane.  Because these sources are plentiful and ethanol-blended water has a low combustion point, Nissan said it won’t be hard to introduce this fuel to the market and its existing infrastructure.

The base vehicle for the prototype is the Nissan e-NV200, with a 30-liter tank capacity. The solid-oxide fuel-cell has an output of 5 kW.