New approaches to improve the performance of the PEM based fuel cell power systems
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Fuel cells are expected to play an important role in future power generation. However, significant technical challenges remain and the commercial breakthrough of fuel cells is hindered by the high price of fuel cell components. As is well known, the fuel cells do not provide the robust source characteristics required to effectively follow the load during significant load steps and they have limited overload-handling capability. Further, the performance of the fuel cell is significantly degraded when the CO (Carbon Monoxide) is contained in the hydrogen fuel. In this thesis several new approaches to improve the performance of PEM based fuel cell power systems are discussed. In the first section an impedance model of the Proton Exchange Membrane Fuel Cell Stack (PEMFCS) is first proposed. This equivalent circuit model of the fuel cell stack is derived by a frequency response analysis (FRA) technique to evaluate the effects of the ripple current generated by the power-conditioning unit. Experimental results are presented to show the effects of the ripple currents. In the second section, a fuel cell powered UPS (Uninterruptible Power Supply) system is proposed. In this approach, two PEM Fuel Cell modules along with suitable DC/DC and DC/AC power electronic converter modules are employed. A Supercapacitor module is also employed to compensate for instantaneous power fluctuations including overload and to overcome the slow dynamics of the fuel processor such as reformers. A complete design example for a 1-kVA system is presented. In the third section, an advanced power converter topology is proposed to significantly improve the CO tolerance on PEM based fuel cell power systems. An additional two-stage dc-dc converter with a supercapacitor module is connected to the fuel cell to draw a low frequency (0.5Hz) pulsating current of the specific amplitude (20-30[A]) from the fuel cell stack. CO on the catalyst surface can be electro-oxidized by using this technique, and thereby the CO tolerance of the system can be significantly improved. Simulation and experimental results show the validity and feasibility of the proposed scheme.
Choi, Woojin (2004). New approaches to improve the performance of the PEM based fuel cell power systems. Doctoral dissertation, Texas A&M University. Texas A&M University. Available electronically from