Nissan works on an ethanol-powered system image

The Japanese automaker announced it is currently researching a powertrain that runs on electricity coming from bio-ethanol.

In their quest to find the best energy alternative for the zero-emissions vehicles of the future, the automakers are now researching all the possible options. Nissan wants to bring by the end of the decade the world’s first electric powertrain that is put in motion by ethanol, also promising cruising ranges similar to gasoline-powered cars of more than 600 km. Unlike conventional fuel-cell systems, Nissan’s Solid Oxide Fuel-Cell (SOFC)-powered setup uses bio-ethanol stored in the tank to transform it into hydrogen via a reformer and oxygen. Nissan said bio-ethanol fuels, including those sourced from sugarcane and corn, are cleaner energy source, easier and safer to handle than most other fuels, while they are widely available in countries in North and South America and in Asia.

Automakers such as Toyota, Honda and Hyundai are heavily promoting the hydrogen-powered systems as a much greener and better alternative to the conventional battery-powered electric cars, also offering similar mileage to internal-combustion engines. Nissan has also agreed with Daimler and Ford to jointly develop conventional hydrogen-powered vehicles, but the model’s introduction will probably be delayed from the earlier plan for 2017, a Nissan spokesman told to Bloomberg. Meanwhile, Nissan is still betting on its electric cars, hoping its zero-emissions models will account for one fifth of the company’s total sales by the end of the decade.

Via Bloomberg