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Fuel-cell vehicles are nothing new. Cars like the Toyota Mirai and the Honda Clarity run on hydrogen to power their fuel cells. Nissan, however, wants to up the ante by introducing a new type of fuel for tomorrow.
The Japanese carmaker unveiled the world’s first Solid Oxide Fuel Cell (SOFC) vehicle in Brazil. The car, an NV200 van, runs purely on ethanol or ethanol-blended water. The fuel source powers the 24kWh battery that drives the electric motor. This gives it a hefty 600km cruising range while emitting zero toxins into the atmosphere.
Nissan believes that the e-Bio Fuel Cell vehicle is the wave of the future. Its electric motor possesses the same qualities that make electric cars a viable mobility option: quiet, quick, clean. Unlike conventional electric vehicles, however, SOFC allows drivers to travel longer distances. Moreover, they don’t need to plug into a wall outlet or charging station. They can simply buy fuel off the shelf to fill the 30L tank.
Speaking of fuel, ethanol and ethanol-blended water can easily be sourced from corn or sugar cane, which are readily available in places like North and South America. While conversion from ethanol to hydrogen may emit a bit of carbon dioxide, this is easily offset by the zero emissions coming from the SOFC vehicle’s "tailpipe." Moreover, the process can be done using existing infrastructure.
The SOFC vehicle technology will be undergoing extensive testing in Brazil to ensure that everything will work properly in time for its targeted 2020 launch. And with cars like the electric-powered Nissan Leaf selling in huge numbers, we’re quite confident everything will go according to plan.