A Nissan e-NV200 has become the first van in the world to be powered by a Solid Oxide Fuel Cell that runs on bio-ethanol electric power – a new form of emissions-free propulsion.
Introduced last week in Brazil, the e-Bio Fuel Cell prototype runs on 100-percent ethanol to charge a 24kWh battery that enables a cruising range of more than 600 kilometres, or approximately 400 miles. Nissan will conduct field tests on public roads in Brazil using the prototype, with a view to introducing a production version of the technology in the future.
The company announced it had commenced research and development of the e-Bio Fuel-Cell vehicle in June at the company’s Yokahama HQ in Japan. The powertrain is clean, easy to supply, and runs on 100-percent ethanol or ethanol-blended water.
Its emissions are claimed to be 100% carbon-neutral, while at the same time offering comparable acceleration and driving characteristics to a more conventional electric vehicle, coupled to the range of a petrol engine.
Bio-ethanol fuels are mainly sourced from sugarcane and corn. The fuels are widely available in South American countries, which feature an established infrastructure. Due to the easy availability of ethanol and low combustibility of ethanol-blended water, the system is not heavily dependent or restricted by the existing charging infrastructure, making it easy to introduce to the market, with potential for global growth.
Nissan’s president and CEO, Carlos Ghosn, said, “The e-Bio Fuel-Cell offers eco-friendly transportation and creates opportunities for regional energy production, all the while supporting the existing infrastructure. In the future, the e-Bio Fuel-Cell will become even more user-friendly. Ethanol-blended water is easier and safer to handle than most other fuels. Without the need to create new infrastructure, it has great potential to drive market growth.”
The fuel cell prototype forms part of Nissan’s ongoing commitment to the development of zero-emission vehicles. Nissan already sells the world’s highest-volume zero-emission car, the LEAF, and is pioneering Intelligent Mobility systems that will be deployed in a range of vehicles over coming years.