Nissan Motor Co. is developing a system that will power cars such as the Nissan Leaf with electricity generated from bio-ethanol.
Along with generating electricity, the system will fuel hydrogen fuel cell vehicles. Unlike conventional fuel-cell vehicles that use a special tank for hydrogen, Nissan’s system will utilize liquid fuel and a conventional tank. The new system will generate hydrogen through reformation of pure ethanol or ethanol-blended water. A solid oxide fuel-cell system can then generate power from hydrogen and air, according to the company.
Nissan plans to introduce the powertrain for fleet sales by 2020, said Hideyuki Sakamoto, executive vice president in charge of development. The ethanol-powered vehicle will have a driving range of more than 600 kilometers (373 miles), similar to gasoline-engine cars, Nissan said Tuesday.
Nissan is going with bio-ethanol fuels, including those derived from sugarcane and corn, since they’re accessible and widely available in countries in Asia, North America, and South America. The vehicles will have running costs that will be on par with electric vehicles, Nissan said.
Toyota, Honda, and Hyundai have embraced hydrogen fuel cell vehicles over plug-in electric vehicles as they offer range and refueling times similar to traditional gasoline engine vehicles. Nissan hasn’t embraced hydrogen as much, and has invested more in electric vehicles.
In 2013, Nissan had agreed with Daimler and Ford to jointly develop conventional hydrogen-powered vehicles. The vehicle’s introduction will probably be delayed from the earlier plan for 2017, Nissan said.