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Nissan Inverter Design Breakthrough Nets More for Less

By KBB.com Editors on September 12, 2008 3:15 PM

Following last month's announcements about its more powerful lithium-ion batteries and improved fuel cell stack, Nissan Motor Corporation has raised the advanced-powertrain design bar once again with a new generation of vehicle-dedicated, high-efficiency inverter units based around dedicated Silicon Carbide (SiC) diodes. An inverter is the critical component that converts electricity generated by the on-board power source in both fuel-cell and pure-electric vehicles from direct to alternating current that can be used by the motors. Their bulk and mass often prove significantly limiting factors in the amount and configuration of cabin/storage space. Nissan's claims its innovative inverter design addresses those packaging issues head on while upping both the capacity and longevity of the operating system itself.

In addition to its enhanced strain of SiC diodes, this new-gen inverter also incorporates a unique heterojunction diode (HJD) structure developed by the firm. According to Nissan, that techno matchup helped reduce the surface area of the inverter by 70 percent, improved its energy efficiency by 20 percent and dramatically increased its overall reliability. It also permitted the fitment of a far simpler cooling system that results in an as-installed size and weight trim-down of 15-20 percent.

This new inverter package affords multiple application possibilities and will become part of future Nissan fuel cell, pure electric and hybrid powertrains. It's currently being field tested in Japan on one of the firm's X-TRAIL FCV fuel cell vehicles.