Title page for ETD etd-03272002-093231

Type of Document Master's Thesis
Author Bird, John Paul
Author's Email Address jobird@vt.edu
URN etd-03272002-093231
Title Model of the Air System Transients in a Fuel Cell Vehicle
Degree Master of Science
Department Mechanical Engineering
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Leo, Donald J. Committee Chair
Ellis, Michael W. Committee Member
Nelson, Douglas J. Committee Member
  • dynamic system model
  • Fuel cells
Date of Defense 2002-01-30
Availability unrestricted
This thesis describes a procedure to measure the transient effects in a fuel cell air delivery system. These methods were applied to model the 20 kW automotive fuel cell system that was used in Animul H2, a fuel cell-battery hybrid sedan developed by a group of engineering students at Virginia Tech. The air delivery system included the air compressor, the drive motor for the compressor, the motor controller, and any plumbing between the fuel cell inlet and the compressor outlet.

The procedure was to collect data from a series of tests of the air delivery system with no load (zero outlet pressure) and at several loads. The air compressor speed, outlet pressure, and motor controller current were measured in response to a variety of speed requests. This data was fit to transfer functions relating the compressor speed, outlet pressure, or motor controller current to the speed request. The fits were found using a least squares optimization technique.

After the experimental model was developed, it was augmented with an analytical model of the rest of the fuel cell system. The mass flow of the air was determined from the air compressor speed and outlet pressure with the compressor map. The fuel cell current was found by assuming a constant stoichiometric ratio. The power out of the fuel cell was calculated from the fuel cell current and the pressure with the polarization curve.

The model of the fuel cell system was implemented in Matlab/Simulink. Several open and closed loop simulations were run to test the functionality of the fuel cell system model. The gross and net powers of the fuel cell system were found as a function of the compressor operating speed. The time it took for the system to come up to power as a function of idle speed was also found. A PID controller was implemented to allow the system to track a reference power request.

The key contributions of this work were to develop a method to test the air delivery system to determine the dynamics of the system, to develop a model based on these tests and some analytical knowledge of fuel cells, and to use the model to simulate the operation and control of a fuel cell system.

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