Nissan’s SOFC Vehicle – Just in Time for the Olympics

Dean Sigler Biofuels, Fuel Cells, Hydrogen Fuel, Sustainable Aviation Leave a Comment

Two major types of fuel cells vie for vehicle designers’ attention: PEM, or proton exchange membrane types, and solid oxide fuels cells (SOFCs). PEMs (also known as polymer electrolyte membrane fuel cells) require an expensive catalyst such as platinum, and hydrogen as fuel. Hydrogen itself is costly to produce and runs up the operating cost for such a fuel cell. Nissan Motor Co., Ltd. timed things to coincide with the 2016 Olympics opening in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil for the introduction of their solid oxide fuel cell vehicle, a van that runs on bio-ethanol electric power.  Nissan’s Carlos Ghosn claims this to be a first, with benefits for potential users. “The e-Bio Fuel-Cell offers eco-friendly transportation and creates opportunities for …

Bacterium + Nitrogen = Ethanol

Dean Sigler Diesel Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation Leave a Comment

78 percent of all the air we breathe is nitrogen, the most abundant gas in the Earth’s atmosphere.  This readily available substance may do more than just give us something for inspiration (there’s a pun there), it may power our vehicles and heat our homes.  The catch is that it has to be combined with the bacterium Zymomonas mobilis, which gives off ethanol when exposed to the gas. James B. McKinlay and a team of biologists at Indiana University at Bloomington work with a cluster of unlikely materials to produce, among other things, biofuels.  His laboratory posts the following description of the team’s work: “Nearly all of our society’s energy and chemical needs are met by fossil fuels. Microbes have evolved …