Most car manufacturers are looking at alternative fuels and technologies to power their vehicles, with long-range electric cars a particular focus area. Nissan has announced that its scientists are working to create a car that uses solid oxides for its fuel cells, transforming bio-ethanol into the power needed for electric motoring.
The company is hoping that the new fuel cell can be made using a biofuel mix that is made from sugar cane or corn, with the focus on creating an electric car that can exceed the current 500km range mark.
Nissan already believes that its system of solid oxide fuel cells will allow up to 600 miles of driving without refuelling. This would put it on a par with the majority of conventional cars but with the same benefits that electric vehicles currently offer.
The company also believes that the running costs would only be ever so slightly more than for regular electric cars, with the fuel-cell-powered cars running on an ethanol/water mix with a ratio of 45/55pc. This would translate to a 66pc lesser cost than for running a petrol car.
The system would use a reformer to transform the fuel cell's bio-ethanol into usable hydrogen. The latter element would then be combined with atmospheric O2 before being transformed via the fuel cell into electricity to power the motor's battery.
The bio-ethanol fuel choice would also allow Nissan's new cars to be carbon-neutralised, with the resulting carbon emissions being offset by the sugar-cane growth process. This does, of course, exclude the emissions made through biofuel transport and processing.
Currently, the technology is in development stage, but it heralds fresh possibility for a new wave of 'green' cars to come to market in the near future.