• Nov 29, 2011
With over 20,000 Leafs running around the planet, Nissan is looking to introduce yet another alt-powered vehicle to the world, and judging by its recent work with fuel cells, a hydrogen-powered vehicle could be here in about four years.

Today in Japan, Nissan showed off its next-generation fuel cell stack, the one that the automaker has claimed has the world's best power density for its size. Compared to the 2005 model (above, left), the new fuel cell (above, right) has 2.5-times more storage capacity while being both smaller and lighter than its predecessor. Weight is down from 265 pounds to just under 90 pounds and output is up to 2.5 kilowatts per liter.

This third-generation fuel cell stack makes uses of an improved Membrane Electrode Assembly (MEA), which combined with single-row lamination, has reduced the size by over half. More importantly, the amount of platinum bits inside has been decreased, which means this new cell is about one-sixth the cost of the last generation design. But – and there's always a "but" when it comes fuel cells – the cost of production is around $50,000. However, that price is set to come down and one engineer confided in us that he'd like to half the size and components yet again, while providing 1.25-times more storage.

Considering Nissan's EV push with the Leaf, we could see the automaker's first fuel cell vehicle on the market in 2015. Earlier reports said Nissan wanted to launch its fuel cell car at a cost of less than ten million yen ($128,000 U.S. at today's exchange rate). In its recent "mid-term environmental plan," Nissan said it plans to sell 1.5 million zero-emission vehicles by 2016 (some coming from Alliance partner Renault). That number includes all-electric vehicles as well as an "all-new fuel cell electric vehicle (FCEV) together with strategic partner, Daimler," Nissan said in a press release last month. Now about that infrastructure...


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 21 Comments
      dukeisduke
      • 3 Years Ago
      The hardware looks cool, anyway. Wonder if the BMW M coffee table would support it? My guess is no.
      methos1999
      • 3 Years Ago
      Ugh - when will "journalists" learn the difference between energy and power (densities)? Using the term "storage capacity" makes no sense when referring to a fuel cell stack. Fuel cell stacks and hydrogen tanks are fairly analogous to IC engines and gas tanks - stacks and engines store nothing, tanks produce no power!
        BlancTora
        • 3 Years Ago
        @methos1999
        Glad I am not the only one who was irritated by the author's complete lack of comprehension. Fuel cells convert fuel into electricity. Thus, they have no capacity for storing energy like batteries or capacitors do. What has increased is it's efficiency. The new fuel cell stack can extract 2.5 times more energy from the same amount of fuel as the previous design.
      theautojunkie
      • 3 Years Ago
      Like Robin Wtlliam said "Does the word Hindenburg ring a bell?" '
        • 3 Years Ago
        @theautojunkie
        [blocked]
      Adam Waltering
      • 3 Years Ago
      Now this is interesting. I like EVs well enough but It seems the best bang for buck after gasoline/diesel has got to be fuel cells. I'm no expert but this sounds good. The numbers stated above of 2.5 kilowatts per liter, can anyone translate that for me? I mean, what sort of range can be expected? Or am I just way off?
        Dave
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Adam Waltering
        "Or am I just way off?" You are way off. That is just the size of the device. IIRC - their fuel cell stack produces 85 kilowatts. Since the power density is 2.5 kilowatts per liter, the size of the stack is ~34 liters or about 1.2 cubic feet. So, this fuel cell stack is impressively. Unfortunately, the real size problem is the carbon fiber hydrogen storage tanks. And the range is determined by the size of those tanks. Manufacturers have already achieved 300+ mile range and 5 minute refuel times with fuel cell vehicles. They are still working on reducing costs including platinum content and carbon fiber storage tank costs.
          • 3 Years Ago
          @Dave
          [blocked]
          Dave
          • 3 Years Ago
          @Dave
          Figure on 60+ miles per kilogram of hydrogen for a small to midsize car. The energy in a kilogram of hydrogen is approximately the same as the energy in a gallon of gas.
          Dave
          • 3 Years Ago
          @Dave
          "Fuel Cell Durability Goal: 2,000 operating hours in 2009; 5,000 operating hours for commercialization Progress: Second generation FCVs recorded just above 2,500 operating hours in 2009, surpassing the goal. (Most automakers are currently operating third-generation vehicles which they expect will come very close to the 5,000-hour target.)" http://www.cafcp.org/progress/technology/doetargets
      creamwobbly
      • 3 Years Ago
      Whatever happened to Honda's efforts? Too busy developing "ugly", I suppose :-\ (And btw, it's "halve" when it's a verb.)
        zanarditypes
        • 3 Years Ago
        @creamwobbly
        Honda's fuel cell stacks are placed in cars, roaming the streets in public hands for a couple of years now...
      JR
      • 3 Years Ago
      I hope we have some NASA,MIT types working on these big time. Seems like the way to go in the long term.
      Dave
      • 3 Years Ago
      http://www.nissan-global.com/COMMON/PDF/TECHNOLOGIES/te_111013-01-06-e.pdf "Better yet, we have brought the production cost down by 85%, close to meeting the US Department of Energy cost target for 2010" http://www.cafcp.org/progress/technology/doetargets "Fuel Cell Cost Goal: $45/kW by 2010; $30/kW by 2015" 85 kw x $45/kw = $3,825
      Dave
      • 3 Years Ago
      Here is Toyota's latest fuel cell vehicle, btw- http://www.autoguide.com/auto-news/2011/11/toyota-fcv-r-concept-points-to-production-fuel-cell-vehicle-2011-tokyo-motor-show.html
      theautojunkie
      • 3 Years Ago
      there is the s I left off
      Dave
      • 3 Years Ago
      The fuel cell stack is not $50k. http://www.nissan-global.com/COMMON/PDF/TECHNOLOGIES/te_111013-01-06-e.pdf “We slashed the price by reducing the need for platinum by 75 percent,” Yanagisawa says. “The Membrane Electrode Assembly [MEA] comprises 80 percent of the stack’s cost, and platinum is half the cost of an MEA, so this was a huge step forward.” Assuming they use $1,500 worth of platinum (as does GM in the stack they introduced over 2 years ago), that would mean that the entire stack works out to $3,750.
      • 3 Years Ago
      [blocked]
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