Nissan Motor Co. Ltd., under the guidance of its Green Program 2010 to develop new, environmentally friendly technologies, doubles the power density of its next-generation hydrogen fuel-cell stack.

In addition, the Japanese auto maker achieves a 35% reduction in cost for the unit, primarily through use of a more-durable electrode material that cuts in half the amount of expensive platinum used in previous generations.

Compared with earlier variants producing the equivalent of 121 hp, Nissan says the new stack produces 174 hp, while also shrinking in size from 3.2 cu.-ft. (90 L) to 2.4 cu.-ft. (68 L).

Along with the improved electrode, the new stack features better conductivity through its membrane electrode assembly’s electrolyte layer, as well as a more densely packed cell structure.

A thin-metal separator, which serves to chemically process the hydrogen, oxygen and cooling water flowing into the unit, replaces a carbon-material separator and includes a unique coating that prevents corrosion and boosts efficiency and long-term durability.

The auto maker says evaluations of the new fuel cell in fleets of test vehicles will commence by the end of the year.

msutton@wardsauto.com