Fuel cell drive
The use of vehicles driven by methanol fuel cells is to be assessed by an international partnership which counts Statoil among its members.
Due to be signed today, 13 September, this collaboration agreement also includes DaimlerChrysler, BP, BASF, Canadian methanol producer Methanex and Xcellsis.
The last of these companies develops and delivers fuel cell systems for vehicles, and is owned by DaimlerChrysler, Ballard Power Systems and Ford Motor.
DaimlerChrysler has developed methanol fuel cell cars, while BP, Methanex and Statoil have experience of producing and distributing methanol.
The partnership brings fuel cell technology a step closer to a mass-market launch, says Sjur Haugen, business development manager for Statoil's methanol unit.
Under the deal, various measures will be assessed with a view to facilitating the introduction and commercialising of such vehicles.
Mr Haugen observes that methanol represents an automotive fuel which could be distributed over most of the world at a realistic cost by using existing infrastructure.
In addition, fuel cells have a large future potential – not least because of their good environmental qualities.
"Methanol is a gas-based product," Mr Haugen notes. "If this opportunity can be realised, it would create a market both nationally and internationally for part of our gas reserves."