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Ceres Power to demonstrate SOFC stack technology for EV range extender with Nissan; light commercial vehicle

UK-based Ceres Power Holdings, a spin-out from Imperial College, is leading a consortium that includes Nissan Motor Manufacturing (UK) Ltd and M-Solv to develop a compact, on-board solid oxide fuel cell (SOFC) stack as a range extender for an electric light commercial vehicle (van). (Earlier post.)

£772,000 (US$1 million) in funding for the work comes from Innovate UK and The Office for Low Emission Vehicles (OLEV); of that, £573,000 (US$755,000) is allocated to Ceres. The SOFC stack is based on Ceres Power’s unique SteelCell technology, which is able to work with a variety of high efficiency fuel types (including biofuels) applicable to the automotive sector.

We are delighted to be working with Nissan and M-Solv to enable an all-electric vehicle with a longer range and shorter refueling time and to help cut vehicle emissions globally. In addition, this project broadens the applications for Ceres Power’s SteelCell into the automotive industry as well using alternative fuels such as biofuels.

— Phil Caldwell, Ceres Power’s CEO

Ceres Power cell technology is based on a patented steel cell using cerium gadolinium oxide (CGO) as the electrolyte, thus permitting operating temperatures of 500-620 °C compared to ≥700 ˚C for conventional SOFCs using yttria stabilized zirconia (YSZ) electrolyte. Further, the use of a metal support allows much greater mechanical robustness than is typically the case with a planar ceramic SOFC, while maintaining the high volumetric power density typical of planar SOFCs.

Ceres makes its Steel Cells by screen printing layers of ceramic ink onto a drilled sheet of steel. Achieving these high quality ceramic layers at low temperature on steel is protected through extensive registered intellectual property and know-how. (Consortium partner M-Solv is a laser micromachining and micro deposition process company.)

The combination of low operating temperature—with the related ability to use lower cost materials— metal support and careful optimization of the microstructure of the ceramic layers allows low cell, stack and balance of plant cost and high robustness to real-world operating conditions.

In January, Ceres Power signed a new Joint Development Agreement with Honda R & D Co Ltd jointly to develop Solid Oxide Fuel Cell (SOFC) stacks using Ceres Power’s metal-supported Steel Cell technology for a range of potential power equipment applications. (Earlier post.)

Nissan recently announced it is researching and developing a Solid Oxide Fuel-Cell (SOFC)-powered system using bio-ethanol as the on-board hydrogen source. (Earlier post.)




This has the potential to be 'the biz'.

It appears to be a different effort to their SOFC efforts for an ethanol fuel cell, although it may also use ethanol, as there is no mention of it being an RE in their other post.


This could be another interesting variance of an FC using bio-fuel.

Coupled with Honda + Nissan + (others), this type of FC could solve the onboard H2 high pressure tank required.

It could be ideal as a PHEV range extender?

Roger Pham

If this type of SOFC will replace the PEM-FC in current-day FCEV, then FCEV's will grow real fast, because FCEV's as is being produced today can also use Compressed Natural Gas and Propane beside H2, at thousands of locations in the USA.

However, to promote the growth of RE, there will have to be a Federal Mandate requiring increasing proportion of RE content, that can be H2 made from grid-excess RE, in the CNG + H2 mixture, in order to give predictable return of investment for RE investors, so that RE will continue to grow even to past 100% for the electric grid.

Not mentioned anywhere is the power density of this type of SOFC. Sure hope that it will be good enough for mobile application.


I agree with RP, if you can get FCEvs that do not use H2, we have a winner. Ethanol or some readily available gas would be great. It might as well be ethanol because, if it is very efficient, the source does not matter very much.
What matters is that you have a FC that runs from a room temperature liquid.
On the other hand, I wouldn't call 620 degrees C "low temperature".


It could be a giant step for extended range FCs running on cleaner bio-fuels and would give costly limited range BEVs a run.

I wouldn't call 620 degrees C "low temperature".

All is relative; some gas turbines have inlet temperatures close to 1400°C.  620°C is high enough to eliminate any need for precious-metal catalysts.

An SOFC should be more or less alcohol-agnostic; it should be able to digest MeOH or EtOH equally well, and perhaps acetone too.  This means that its fuel supply chain does not have to be specific for any one compound.  If the FC is sufficiently flexible, the products of something like the Mixalco process would fit right into it.

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