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Ceres Power enters new partnership with Nissan on solid oxide fuel cell technology for EVs

Ceres Power, a UK-based spin-out from Imperial College and the developer of the SteelCell low-cost Solid Oxide Fuel Cell (SOFC) technology (earlier post), has entered into a new partnership with Nissan further to develop fuel cell technology for EV applications.

Ceres Power and The Welding Institute (TWI) have been awarded a total of £8 million (US$10.4 million) from the UK government through the Advanced Propulsion Centre (APC) for this project.

The fuel-flexible SteelCell can generate power from conventional fuels such as natural gas and from sustainable fuels such as biogas, ethanol or hydrogen at very high efficiency. Made from mass-market and widely available materials, the SteelCell is cost-effective, robust and scalable, Ceres claims.

This project will involve the design, build, test and demonstration of a compact, robust, UK-produced SOFC stack, deployed within a Nissan-designed fuel cell module suitable for operation with a variety of high efficiency fuel types (including biofuels).

After a successful two-year Innovate UK funded development programme (EVRE – Electric Vehicle Range Extender), this project is the natural next step towards increased technology and manufacturing readiness for mass production of Ceres Power’s SteelCell for automotive applications.

Ceres Power will receive £7 million funding and TWI will receive £1 million funding from APC as part of an overall £19-million program over about 3 years. The new partnership builds on the successful Joint Development with Nissan over the past 2 years and sees Ceres Power accelerating commercialization of its SteelCell fuel cell technology in automotive markets.

The expanded work with Nissan comes soon after Ceres Power’s recent announcement of a strategic partnership with China’s Weichai Power to develop its technology for China’s fast-growing electric powered bus market.

The UK Government’s Road to Zero strategy, which requires a significant reduction in CO2 emissions, is accelerating the shift to battery Electric Vehicles. Introducing fuel cell technology alongside batteries further enables increased drive range and has a significant role to play in the acceleration of the uptake of battery EVs.

Ceres Power has six strategic partners, including Cummins, Honda & Nissan, two as yet unnamed partners and a recently confirmed strategic investment partner in Weichai Power, which is primarily for range extension technology in China’s fast-growing battery-electric bus market.

Comments

SJC

I could see putting Bloom SOFC in trains and ships with LNG.

HarveyD

These could have a great potential as multi-fuel range extenders to reduce the use of 100+ kWh battery packs with 20 kWh units.

Engineer-Poet

You could go a lot lower than 20 kWh; try 5 kWh for PHEV, 1.5 kWh for HEV.  It really only depends what you want to use as the primary energy source:  carbon-based fuel, or grid power.

Moi?  I think methanol is probably the best option here.  It's a liquid, it's easily made from feedstocks which won't yield much in the way of biogas (you can process the methane and CO2 in biogas into syngas and then into methanol, with energy added) and the exhaust temperature of an SOFC is more than high enough to crack MeOH back into CO+H2 with all the regeneration of waste heat into fuel energy that this implies.

HarveyD

The most appropriate combo (batteries/SOFC) sizes would depend on local conditions and application. The relative cost of e-energy versus FC fuel should also be considered.

Ethanol, currently available at a reasonable price, could also be used?

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