Nissan has announced its intention to create a fuel-cell vehicle powered by ethanol instead of the traditional hydrogen. Nissan executive vice president Hideyuki Sakamoto cited a few reasons for the move towards ethanol:
“The cost and energy required to produce hydrogen can be very high, and it also requires significant investment in [fueling and storing] infrastructure. Compared with that, ethanol is very easy to procure, it is safer to store and lower cost. These are its merits.”
Nissan also said the car’s range would be roughly 373 miles, and the pricing would be comparable to electric vehicles. Currently, Nissan plans to release the car in 2020. It should be noted that this is not the only way ethanol can be used to fuel cars. Flex-fuel vehicles can already be fueled with ethanol, or any combination of that fuel and gasoline, and countries such as Brazil have introduced ethanol into the mainstream market with great success.
Nissan, however, plans to use the ethanol to generate electricity in fuel cell stacks, thus charging the batteries that power the car.
Once the car is released, it will be competing with hydrogen powered fuel-cell vehicles, most notably the Toyota Mirai and Honda’s Clarity Fuel Cell car. However, Nissan’s proposed vehicle bears a few advantages over competitors. By using ethanol instead of hydrogen, Nissan would eliminate the need for hydrogen storage tanks, and long fueling times.
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