Nissan’s Ethanol-based Fuel-Cell Engine: Revolutionizing The Fuel-Cell Powertrain Industry?

Nissan is developing an innovative fuel-cell vehicle technology, which could very well be an industry first, due to its use of ethanol for its hydrogen source. Nissan planned to develop cleaner cars and commercialize the fuel-cell vehicle system in 2020.

A report on Yahoo Singapore News stated that using ethanol acquired from crops like corn and sugar cane to produce hydrogen-based electricity is much cheaper than the development process made by Toyota, Honda and Hyundai, according to the Japanese automaker, Nissan.

Nissan Executive VP Hideyuki Sakamoto told the media, "The cost and energy required to produce hydrogen can be very high, and it also requires significant investment in (fuelling and storing) infrastructure."

He also added that the process of obtaining ethanol is easy and cost effective. Apart from these, ethanol is also safer to store.

Nissan claims that the fuel-cell technology will power the range of their larger vans or electric vehicles that will be available in 2020.

The fuel-cell vehicle is assumed to cruise within 800 kilometers range per fuelling, which is more dependable than gasoline-powered vehicles that range over 600 kilometers.

When asked about vehicle pricing, the Japanese automaker declined to provide details, instead stating that the running costs for the development of the fuel-cell vehicles would be somewhat similar to the costs of electric vehicles.

According to Digital Trends, Nissan's application of ethanol in producing hydrogen is part of Japan's "zero-emission hydrogen society" which is aimed at reducing the use of nuclear power or importing fuel, instead using hydrogen in fueling homes and vehicles.

Burning ethanol to produce hydrogen is not emission-free but is less harmful than burning diesel fuel or gasoline.

Ethanol is utilized in countries like Brazil as a source of fuel for vehicles. Nissan plans to generate electricity using fuel cell stacks which can charge batteries that will provide power for motor vehicles.

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