Nissan has designed what it says is a world-first Solid Oxide Fuel-Cell (SOFC) prototype which could preview comprehensive crossover technology in the switch from internal combustion engines.
Based on Nissan’s e-NV200 electric van, the prototype shifts the goalposts for fuel-cell vehicles by using a range of fuels to produce power.
Ethanol, bio-ethanol and even natural gas can all be used to service the fuel-cells, departing from the industry focus of hydrogen as the main fuel source.
Using Nissan’s 24kWh battery pack along with the 5kW SOFC unit, the prototype can manage more than 600km of emission-free driving from its 30-litre fuel tank.
“The e-Bio Fuel-Cell offers eco-friendly transportation and creates opportunities for regional energy production, all the while supporting the existing infrastructure,” Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn said.
“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.”
Mr Ghosn pointed to the fact that the new SOFC technology could rely on much of the motoring world’s existing infrastructure, as sales for hydrogen-powered models currently on the market are hamstrung by a lack of refuelling facilities.
Further, Nissan says fuel to power SOFC vehicles could simply be stocked on the shelves at corner stores or virtually any other retailer.
The 24kWh battery pack will be familiar to Nissan Leaf owners, as the battery pack which has powered the all-electric hatch since its debut.
The prototype will undergo testing on Brazilian roads in the near future, and Nissan says fans can expect to see the technology in more vehicles over coming years.