PARIS – Renault SA presented its work on reformulating gasoline, diesel and ethanol fuel into hydrogen to run a fuel-cell vehicle at the 6th World Hydrogen Energy Conference held in Lyon, France, last week.

But it isn’t clear whether the presentation means anything to Renault's plans to test fuel-cell vehicles based on advanced technology developed by alliance partner Nissan Motor Co. Ltd.

Reformulating a liquid fuel into hydrogen to make electricity to run a motor solves the problem of no hydrogen infrastructure, but consumers are unlikely to support the expense of the approach.

Renault chose several years ago to study reformulation, but Nissan, which is far ahead on fuel-cell development, is using high-pressure storage of compressed hydrogen.

The reformer was the highlight of Renault’s exhibit at the conference.

The process has six stages, beginning with a cracking phase that breaks down the long hydrocarbon molecule chains of the various liquid fuels into simpler molecules of hydrogen, water, carbon and so on.

The next five stages purify the hydrogen until it is ready for use with the fuel cell.

Renault says it is has been working on this solution since 2002 with Nissan and Nuvera Fuel Cells, a U.S.-Italian company.

However, for its latest version of a fuel cell-powered X-Trail cross/utility vehicle, Nissan has developed its own fuel cell.

In addition to the reformer, Renault also exhibited its multi-fuel fuel tank and a fuel cell.