Nissan has created its 2011 fuel cell stack which they claim puts them one up on every other hydrogen car manufacturer in the game. In fact, Nissan is now saying they are ready for commercialization of their fuel cell vehicle and where the heck are all of the hydrogen fueling stations to support their SUV.
The 2011 Nissan fuel cell stack has 2.5 times the energy density than their 2005 model, coming in at 2.5 Kw per liter. The cost of the 2011 fuel cell stack is near what the U. S. DOE has been asking for in regard to commercializing fuel cell vehicles.
According to Nissan’s Masanari Yanagisawa, “As a result, the new stack is also a lot smaller. We can now pack 85 kilowatts of power in a 34-liter package. Better yet, we have brought the production cost down by 85 percent, close to meeting the U.S. Department of Energy cost target for 2010 – a widely referenced benchmark.
“We slashed the price by reducing the need for platinum by 75 percent. 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.”
In 2001, Nissan used to outsource the building of their fuel cell stacks to Ballard. In 2005, they gave the task to their own engineers, researchers and designers. In 2009, the researchers “had a conceptual breakthrough with a technique that involves molding plastic around the MEA to create insulating frames between each of 400+ layers in the stack – thereby ensuring the layers neither short out nor fall apart.”
This 2009 conceptual breakthrough lead to the 2011 breakthrough which is Nissan’s most recent fuel cell stack presumably to appear soon in Nissan’s own fuel cell vehicle, the X-Trail FCV. I’ve personally driven the Nissan X-Trail FCV and taken pictures of it as well.
What I would like to see from Nissan is not only installing the new 2011 fuel cell stack in their X-Trail FCV but in smaller cars as well. Nissan now has the fuel cell technology to do whatever they want and what the consumers will want is more variety in vehicles from which to choose.