Hydrogen is one of the most promising energy carriers for the future. The production of hydrogen from ethanol steam reforming is environmentally friendly and opens new opportunities for using renewable bio-fuels.
Different catalysts have been tried for the steam reforming process of ethanol, and the optimal hydrogen conversion is still in research and development.
Car manufacturers have already introduced hydrogen powered vehicles in Japan. (Toyota, Hyundai, Honda). Their vehicles have a fuel- cell that stores hydrogen at 10,000 PSI in heavily reinforced tanks within the cargo areas. They also need to be re-fueled in advanced hydrogen service stations. (90 of such stations are already available in Japan)
NISSAN is applying a different pathway for the production of hydrogen. In their proposed vehicles, NISSAN technology uses an ethanol-water blend at 55:45 ratio, able to be procured at any existing conventional gas station.
The ethanol-water blend is then heated and fed to an onboard reformer that splits it into pure hydrogen and carbon dioxide. The hydrogen produced in the reformer is fed into a solid oxide fuel- cell, which then generates electricity at a steady rate to supply power to the vehicle electric motor.
NISSAN expects their new “eBio SOFC” system will provide a range of 500 miles, and filling the vehicle tank with ethanol will take no longer than a conventional gasoline tank.
As of late 2017, NISSAN has started testing its new Bio-Ethanol Fuel Cell vehicle in Brazil.
Japan is already building a network of hydrogen fueling stations, and the government announced a target of 900 hydrogen fueling stations and 800,000 fuel cell cars in the country by 2030.
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