Nissan’s Ethanol-Powered Fuel Cell Vehicle

Arguably, Nissan Motor has developed what can be considered a clean-energy vehicle squared, as it has revealed the e-Bio Fuel-Cell, a prototype vehicle that is not only a zero-emissions fuel-cell truck, but one that uses ethanol to charge the 24-kWh battery.

Arguably, Nissan Motor has developed what can be considered a clean-energy vehicle squared, as it has revealed the e-Bio Fuel-Cell, a prototype vehicle that is not only a zero-emissions fuel-cell truck, but one that uses ethanol to charge the 24-kWh battery.

The vehicle uses a solid oxide fuel cell (SOFC), which is said to be the world’s first in an automotive application.

The vehicle was unveiled in Brazil during the 2016 Olympics, not only because that was a great venue to unveil practically anything, but because Brazil is the world’s largest sugarcane ethanol producer (corn is an alternative feedstock), and in Brazil it is the main automotive fuel.

As Carlos Ghosn, Nissan president and CEO, put it, “The e-Bio Fuel-Cell offers eco-friendly transportation and creates opportunities for regional energy production, all the while supporting the existing infrastructure.”

So in the case of Brazil, if you’re already formulating ethanol to power cars and trucks, it would be a comparatively simple thing to make some for the fuel cell, as well.

Nissan is looking at mixing the ethanol with water. Ghosn explained, “Ethanol-blended water is easier and safer to handle than most other fuels.”

The e-Bio Fuel-Cell vehicle is based on an e-NV200 cargo truck. It has a 30-liter tank capacity. The output of the SOFC is 5 kW. The vehicle has a range on the order of 600 km  (~373 miles).