The company hopes new battery tech will help manufacturers electrify commercial vehicles.

The British government has offered funding for a Nissan-backed project to create new batteries that will extend the range of vans.

Led by sustainability firm Ceres, the project aims to develop a compact, high-power density solid oxide fuel cell for use in commercial vehicles.

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Although the government-run Advanced Propulsion Centre (APC) says commercial vehicles are among the hardest vehicles to “decarbonise”, the organisation hopes Ceres and Nissan’s project will “enable a significant reduction” in city-centre pollution.

The scheme is one of three to get a combined total of £35 million in government funding.

Other projects to receive funding include a joint venture between Hofer Powertrain and Aston Martin, which plans to create a new generation of e-motor and inverter modules for use in high-performance electric cars.

Nissan electric van Jersey Post

The final project is a hydraulic power system for “off-highway” vehicle sector, which includes vehicles such as diggers and dump trucks.

Ian Constance, chief executive of the APC, said: “The challenge of lowering emissions is shared by the entire automotive industry, and includes all areas of the sector. This latest round of APC funding highlights the broad range of vehicle types that will benefit from developments in low carbon innovation, with successful applicants developing technologies for commercial and off-highway vehicles, as well as the wider e-mobility industry. We expect that this approach will help to create and safeguard jobs across the UK automotive sector.”

Phil Caldwell, CEO of Ceres Power, added: “This APC-funded project will develop an automotive-specification fuel cell range extender. It is the next step towards increasing the technology and manufacturing readiness of a compact, robust, fast-response SOFC (Solid Oxide Fuel Cell) stack for high-volume production. APC funding enables Ceres and its partners, who are responsible for the automotive application, to jointly engineer a SOFC solution that contributes to a low-carbon future.”