System level modeling and component level control of fuel cells

Date of Completion

January 2007


Engineering, Automotive|Engineering, Mechanical|Energy




This dissertation investigates the fuel cell systems and the related technologies in three aspects: (1) system-level dynamic modeling of both PEM fuel cell (PEMFC) and solid oxide fuel cell (SOFC); (2) condition monitoring scheme development of PEM fuel cell system using model-based statistical method; and (3) strategy and algorithm development of precision control with potential application in energy systems. ^ The dissertation first presents a system level dynamic modeling strategy for PEM fuel cells. It is well known that water plays a critical role in PEM fuel cell operations. It makes the membrane function appropriately and improves the durability. The low temperature operating conditions, however, impose modeling difficulties in characterizing the liquid-vapor two phase change phenomenon, which becomes even more complex under dynamic operating conditions. This dissertation proposes an innovative method to characterize this phenomenon, and builds a comprehensive model for PEM fuel cell at the system level. The model features the complete characterization of multi-physics dynamic coupling effects with the inclusion of dynamic phase change. The model is validated using Ballard stack experimental result from open literature. The system behavior and the internal coupling effects are also investigated using this model under various operating conditions. ^ Anode-supported tubular SOFC is also investigated in the dissertation. While the Nernst potential plays a central role in characterizing the electrochemical performance, the traditional Nernst equation may lead to incorrect analysis results under dynamic operating conditions due to the current reverse flow phenomenon. This dissertation presents a systematic study in this regard to incorporate a modified Nernst potential expression and the heat/mass transfer into the analysis. The model is used to investigate the limitations and optimal results of various operating conditions; it can also be utilized to perform the optimal design of tubular SOFC. ^ With the system-level dynamic model as a basis, a framework for the robust, online monitoring of PEM fuel cell is developed in the dissertation. The monitoring scheme employs the Hotelling T2 based statistical scheme to handle the measurement noise and system uncertainties and identifies the fault conditions through a series of self-checking and conformal testing. A statistical sampling strategy is also utilized to improve the computation efficiency. ^ Fuel/gas flow control is the fundamental operation for fuel cell energy systems. In the final part of the dissertation, a high-precision and robust tracking control scheme using piezoelectric actuator circuit with direct hysteresis compensation is developed. The key characteristic of the developed control algorithm includes the nonlinear continuous control action with the adaptive boundary layer strategy. ^