Nissan prototype makes electricity from ethanol
Nissan has unveiled a prototype electric vehicle which offers a diesel-like range and can make its own carbon-neutral electricity from ethanol.
Based on the e-NV200, it features the same electric motor and 24kWh electric battery with AC and DC charging from the production EV, but with a 30-litre tank for ethanol or ethanol-blended water, which extends the range to more than 360 miles.
The Solid Oxide Fuel Cell (SOFC) system is a two-part process. It extracts hydrogen from ethanol and uses this to produce electricity to charge the battery. While the system produces some CO2 emissions making the hydrogen, Nissan claims this is offset by the sugarcane and corn used to produce bio-ethanol.
Field tests will begin in Brazil shortly, but SOFC technology is said to offer potential for electric vehicles in markets such as South America where bio-ethanol is produced in large amounts and available via forecourts, but where EV charging infrastructure is limited.
Ethanol-blended water is also said to be safer to handle than traditional fuels. Nissan expects to launch a production SOFC car by 2020.