Nissan cracks electric-car downtime, range

Nissan bio-fuel
TESTING TESTING: Part of the SOFC test plant for Nissan’s bio-fuel bid. Image: Nissan

YOKOHAMA, Japan – Nissan Motor is researching and developing a solid-oxide fuel cell-powered system that runs on bio-ethanol generated electric power.

The automaker claims this is a world-first for automotive use and uses an e-Bio fuel-cell with an SOFC power generator: essentially a fuel cell that uses the reaction with oxygen of a number of fuels, among them ethanol and natural gas, to produce electricity with high efficiency.

In this case, the bio-ethanol will be carried in the vehicle in the same was as a normal fuel tank.

SYSTEM TAKES RANGE BEYOND 600KM

The e-Bio fuel cell uses hydrogen – transformed from fuel via a reformer – and atmospheric oxygen to create an electro-chemical reaction to produce electricity to power the vehicle.

Nissan says the system is much more efficient in its power generation and should give the vehicle a cruising range similar to that of petrol-powered cars – more than 600km.

In addition, the e-Bio car’s distinct electric-drive features – including silent drive and brisk acceleration – allow users to enjoy the joys and comfort of a pure electric vehicle.

Nissan bio-fuel
HOW IT WORKS: Nissan’s bio-fuel installaation. Image: Nissan

Bio-ethanol fuels, including those sourced from sugar cane and corn, are widely available in North and South America and Asia. The e-Bio fuel-cell, using bio-ethanol, means not only eco-friendly driving and can be produced regionally.

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Nissan adds that the e-Bio fuel-cell will become even more user-friendly as ethanol-blended water is easier and safer to handle than most other fuels. As this will remove limits on creating a totally new infrastructure, it has great potential for market growth.

FORGET THE CHARGING DOWNTIME

Running costs, the automaker says, “will be remarkably low – on par with electric vehicles” and will not need the long downtime to charge the latters’ battery packs.

In pursuit of its target of a zero-emissions/zero-fatalities cars, Nissan says it will continue to promote vehicle intelligence and electrification “through a more enjoyable driving experience”.

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