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WSU, Nissan researchers develop SOFC with reforming catalyst for direct ethanol feed operation

A team from Washington State University (WSU) and Nissan has integrated a catalyst layer into into metal-supported solid oxide fuel cell (MS-SOFC), enabling successful operation with a direct ethanol feed. A paper on their work appears in the Journal of Power Sources.

The team introduced a Rhodium-Ceria-Zirconia (Rh/CZ) internal reforming catalyst layer to the MS-SOFC by infiltrating Rh, CeO2, and ZrO2 precursors into the stainless steel (SS 430) support.


With a direct feed of an ethanol solution (45 vol%) into the anode at 600 °C, the experimental results show that the cell with the infiltrated 5 wt% Rh/CZ demonstrates an improved performance over a cell without the catalyst layer by enhancing the internal reforming activity of ethanol toward the production of synthesis gas.

The maximum current density improved from 0.3 A cm−2 to 0.4 A cm−2 while the long-term stability was also greatly improved.

Post mortem cell analysis reveals that the infiltrated catalyst layer can prevent severe coke deposition from the cell’s anode functional layer.

The proposed integrated reforming catalyst and MS-SOFC system is a promising pathway to enable bioethanol fed-SOFC technology for future electric vehicles.

—Dewa et. al

In 2016, Nissan announced it was researching and developing a Solid Oxide Fuel-Cell (SOFC)-powered system using bio-ethanol as the on-board hydrogen source. (Earlier post.) The company has engaged in a number of research partnerships in this area (e.g., earlier post, earlier post.)


  • Martinus Dewa, Mohamed A. Elharati, A. Mohammed Hussain, Yohei Miura, Dong Song, Yosuke Fukuyama, Yoshihisa Furuya, Nilesh Dale, Xianghui Zhang, Oscar G. Marin-Flores, Di Wu, M. Grant Norton, Su Ha (2022) “Metal-supported solid oxide fuel cell system with infiltrated reforming catalyst layer for direct ethanol feed operation,” Journal of Power Sources, doi: 10.1016/j.jpowsour.2022.231625


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