Solid Oxide Fuel Cell (SOFC) – from electric car-fueled power plant to Scale Bioetanol Households

E-electric car Fuel Cell Bio In August the year 2017, the Government of Indonesia highlighted the serious with the development […]


E-electric car Fuel Cell Bio

In August the year 2017, the Government of Indonesia highlighted the serious with the development of electric cars. The Ministry of MINERAL RESOURCES, Ministry of industry and Ministry of Ristekdikti are currently reviewing the application of the electric car in Indonesia. Joko Widodo President ever target the electric car production reached 20% of the total cars produced in the year 2025, the impact will be no restrictions on the production of fossil-fuelled ca[1]r. The source of electrical energy used in electric cars generally use a secondary batteries (rechargeable batteries) as lithium-ion polymer. But for countries that do not have a source of lithium, such as Japan and European countries, will be the difficulty in developing electric cars. Thus an alternative technology to generate electrical energy is the fuel cell (fuel cell).

Fuel cell is an electrochemical device that converts chemical energy into electrical energy directly and have the same components, such as battery electrolyte, anode, cathode, and. Electrolytes function flow towards the anode and cathode of ions or vice versa. The anode is where the fuel meets the electrolyte oxidation reactions occur so where occurs the release of electrons. While the cathode is where the merging of oxygen reduction reaction to occur so the electrolyte in which electrons generated by the reaction is used for oxidation reactions. In the fuel cell, fuel sources must be supplied continuously (continuous) to create a chemical reaction that will generate electricity. While on battery, fuel sources are already in the battery cell is stored in the form of chemical energy and has a specific period so there is no need to supply fuel continuously. Fuel cell fuel commonly used is hydrogen gas (H2). Fuel cell has been developed and divided into 5 types of fuel cells that are transferred on the basis of the type of electrolyte used. If using posfat acid (phosphoric acid) then called Phosphoric Acid Fuel Cell (PAFC). Fuel cell types is shown in table 1.

Table 1. Types of fuel cell[2] 

Fuel Cell System PEMFC (Proton Exchange Membrane Fuel Cell) SOFC (Solid Oxide Fuel Cell) AFC (Alkaline Fuel Cell) PAFC (Phosphoric Acid Fuel Cell) MCFC (Molten Carbonate Fuel Cell)
Fuel H2 H2, CO, CH4  H2 H2 H2, CO, CH4
Oxidizer O2, water O2, water O2, water O2, water CO2, O2, water
Electrolyte Perfluorosulfonic Acid Membrane (Nafion) Yttria-Stabilized Zirconia Potassium Hydroxide Phosphoric Acid Lithium, Sodium and/or potassium carbonate
Ion Is Transferred H + O2- Oh H + CO2−3(carbonate)-
Operating Temperature (oC) 25-100 600-1000 25-250 150-220 620-660
Operating Pressure (atm) 1-3 1 1-4 3-10 1 -10

This type of fuel cell that is being developed is a lively Center of Solid Oxide Fuel Cell (SOFC) being able to be utilized on a wide scale as a residential-scale power plants, small and large industry and electric cars with power generated in the range 1 kW – 100 MW[3]. The working principle of SOFC and reaction shown by Figure 1. SOFC working at a temperature of 600 – 1000oC and pressure 1 atm with the efficiency of the resulting range 65 – 80%. Fuel used in SOFC was spared from hydrogen gas sulphur content as it can be toxic at a time when the reaction takes place. In addition to hydrogen gas, methane gas (CH4) can be a fuel for SOFC provided conducted the process reforming first dri CH4 into CO2 and H2 gas. The process of reforming is the process of changing the form of the molecule which is done at a high temperature (800 – 900oC) and requires a catalyst to sustain the reaction. The material used on the SOFC is made from ceramic in order to hold it at a temperature of over 800oC. Anode material using YSZ (Yttria-stabilized Zirconia) covered with metal catalysts of nickel (Ni), cathode Material using Lanthanum-Strontium Manganite-(La0, 8Sr0, 2MnO3/NGO), and electrolyte materials used are YSZ (Yttria-stabilized Zirconia) or copper plated CeO2 (Cheerful Oxide). Process flow that occurs on SOFC is as follows:

  1. Oxygen from the air going in on the side of the cathode reduction reaction which produces ions of oxygen (O2) that will flow through the electrolyte to the anode towards.
  2. At the anode, fuel (H2) in which oxidation reactions between gaseous H2 ion of oxygen and produce water vapor (due to high temperatures) and electrons as well as hot as the effect of these reactions.
  3. Electrons move through the external circuit to be connected with the load outside of the cathode toward the end to make a reduction reaction.


Figure 1. Working principles and reactions of SOFC[4]

In June 2016, Nissan Motor Co., Ltd. introduced the electric cars using the technology-fueled SOFC bioetanol mixture or bioetanol-water by comparison 55% water and 45% bioetanol. The electric car is named e-Bio Fuel Cell that has far more mileage (over 600 km) than other electric car that reached a maximum of about 500 km. Another advantage of electric car Fuel Cell Bio e-it is not necessary to recharge the electric from the main power source such as PLN, but simply fill it with bioetanol mixture or bioetanol-water to generate electricity. The use of bioethanol as a fuel is already massive performed in several countries such as Brazil, the USA, Japan, China and India. Nissan Motor will do a test e-Bio Fuel Cell in Brazil because of the continuity of production, government regulation, and adequate infrastructure such as fueling station bioetanol. Bioetanol production raw materials in Brazil derived from plant sugar cane and corn. E-Fuel Cell Bio indicated by Figure 2.


Figure 2. System e-Bio Fuel Cell[5]

Bioetanol mixture or bioetanol-water will get into the process of reforming in advance to turn it into H2 and CO2. The heat needed for the process of reforming the heat gained from the results of the reaction at SOFC. CO2 gas generated bucharesters so disposed of directly into the environment which can then be absorbed by the crops of sugar cane and corn to the growth process so that Nissan Motor named the process “Carbon Neutral Cycle (Cycle penetralan Carbon) “(Figure 3).

The next H2 SOFC system would go into to produce electricity that can be used to recharge the lithium battery. In addition to generating electricity, e-Bio Fuel cells produce water vapor which is directly dumped into the environment and the heat is reused in the process of reforming and can operate for 24 hours. More interesting is the electricity generated from the SOFC system can be used for daily necessities like household electricity needs for 24 hours. Scheme of utilization of electricity generated from the SOFC is shown in Figure 4.


Figure 3. Carbon Neutral Cycle (Cycle Carbon penetralan)[5]


Figure 4. Scheme of utilization of electricity generated from the SOFC[5]

The cost of operation of the e-Fuel Cell Bio about ¥ 3.1/km ($ 367/km). These costs are far cheaper than fossil-fuelled car after roughly ¥ 9.1/km ($ 1078/km) and a bit more expensive than electric cars that use a battery which is about ¥ 2.9/km ($ 343/km)[5]. However e-Bio Fuel Cell is still superior to electric cars in general because of the use of renewable fuels and can be a power plant for electricity needs of households daily. Nissan Motor is targeting e-Bio Fuel Cell will start to be marketed in the year 2020 in Brazil and allow it to be marketed to countries which have adequate infrastructure.

Check out the video below:


[1] Cory, Septian. 2017. As Far As What The Development Of Electric Cars Work The Nation?. Taken from: (November 4, 2017)

[2] Spiegel, Colleen. 2007. Designing and Building Fuel Cells. New York: McGraw-Hill

[3] Singhal, Subhash C and Kevin Kendall. 2003. High Temperature Solid Oxide Fuel Cell. New York: Elsevier Inc.

[4] Karisruhe Institute of Technology. Solid Oxide Fuel Cell: Modeling and Simulation. Taken from: (November 4, 2017)

[5] Doi, Kazuhiro. Nissan’s Intelligent Power-e-Bio-Fuel Cell System. Nissan Motor Co., Ltd.

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