Efficiency and time-optimal control of fuel cell - compressor - electrical drive systems

Research output: ThesisPhd Thesis 1 (Research TU/e / Graduation TU/e)

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The proton exchange membrane fuel cell (PEMFC) based power generation sys- tem is regarded as one of the perspective energy supply solutions for a wide variety of applications including distributed power plants and transport. The main compo- nent of the FC system is the FC stack, where the process of electrochemical energy conversion takes place. Additionally, such systems usually contain an auxiliary compression subsystem which supplies the reactant gases to the FC stack as well as maintains certain operation conditions: pressure, temperature, humidity, etc. The proper operation of the compression system signi¯cantly improves the performance characteristics of the total system. On the other hand, it consumes a portion of the electrical energy produced, thus reducing the net e±ciency of the total system. This thesis focuses on an innovative way to improve both the energy e±ciency and the response characteristics of a power generation system with a PEMFC. The approach principally consists of the control of the air compressor powered by the electrical drive. This method could be considered as an alternative to a redesign of the complete system (changing the power level, using an extra energy bu®er, etc). The modern high-speed centrifugal compressor has been regarded as one of the best candidates for the FC system. It has appropriate characteristics with respect to e±ciency, reliability, compact design, etc. However, the presence of a stability margin or so-called "surge line" limits its operation area. With the aim to overcome this constraint, a novel active surge suppression approach has been proposed for application in the system. This control method relies on the high-performance speed control of the electrical drive and accurate measurement and estimation of the thermodynamic quantities, such as air pressure and mass °ow. The choice of an induction motor drive has been justi¯ed by its commonly known advantages: low cost, simple construction, high reliability, etc. These features be- come especially important in high-speed applications. For the detailed investigation and performance prediction of the prime mover, a global electromagnetic design pro- cedure with thermal analysis of a high-speed induction motor has been performed. The obtained analytical results have been veri¯ed numerically by a high-precision Finite Elements Method. A good agreement between the analytical and FEM simu- lation results has been achieved. The mentioned active surge control in combination with the high-performance ¯eld-oriented control of the induction motor has been im- plemented and tested. The test bench comprises the centrifugal compressor with the PVC piping system, the high-speed induction motor drive, the real-time data acquisition and the control system. The experimental results proved the e®ective- ness of the active surge suppression by means of the drive torque actuation: the operation point of the compressor can be moved beyond the surge line while the process remains stable. Using the combined mathematical models of the FC stack, the centrifugal com- pressor and the ¯eld-oriented controlled induction motor drive, the static and dy- namic behavior of the total system have been simulated, allowing to clarify the interaction between the electrochemical processes in the FC stack, the thermody- namic processes in the compression system and the electromechanical performance of the drive. Various system operating regimes have been proposed and analyzed. When the FC electrical load changes frequently and fast, the constant-speed operating regime can be used. In case of a slow variation of the FC electrical load, the variable- speed operating regime is advisable, providing a high energy e±ciency at low FC load. In intermediate cases, the load-following-mass °ow operating regime with the application of the active surge control of the compressor becomes preferable. This operating regime eliminates the relatively long mechanical transient process, keep- ing the energy consumption of the balance of plant (BoP) approximately linearly proportional to the main load. The operating regime with applied linear quadratic Gaussian (LQG) time-optimal control has been proposed as an alternative to the load-following-mass °ow operating regime and the variable-speed operating regime. The transition between two steady-state operating points, where the system e±- ciency is maximum, follows the time-optimal trajectory, keeping the transient re- sponse time small. Finally, recommendations for further research have been formulated concerning the dynamic response and energy-e±ciency of a fuel cell system. Mainly, the recom- mendations concern further improvements of presented control strategies and their more comprehensive experimental veri¯cation using a complete FC system. First of all, the use of a direct induction motor drive for the compressor stabiliza- tion would signi¯cantly improve the e®ectiveness of the surge control. It would allow to control the surge of higher frequency, or to stabilize the compressor operation at larger distance from the surge line. Second, a combination of the electrical drive torque control with a valve position control would result probably in a more e®ective surge control, together with fast transients of the system operating point. Third, the application of the electrical drive for the compressor active surge control in a FC system would require new control algorithms for energy-e±ciency improvement of the induction motor, not compromising its high-performance capa- bilities.
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
Awarding Institution
  • Electrical Engineering
  • Vandenput, Andre, Promotor
  • Kling, W.L., Promotor
  • Lomonova, Elena A., Copromotor
Award date8 Apr 2008
Place of PublicationEindhoven
Print ISBNs978-90-386-1824-1
Publication statusPublished - 2008


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