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INNovative Cost Improvements for BALANCE of Plant Components of Automotive PEMFC Systems

Periodic Reporting for period 3 - INN-BALANCE (INNovative Cost Improvements for BALANCE of Plant Components of Automotive PEMFC Systems)

Reporting period: 2020-01-01 to 2021-10-31

A) Alternative fuels are expected to be a game changer in the fight against climate change and global warming. Hydrogen when produced from renewable energy sources can be used in several applications including the transport sector and contributes to reduce the emissions of greenhouse gases caused by conventional cars powered by internal combustion engines (ICE). To achieve a successful market deployment of hydrogen technologies in Europe, four main conditions need to be met:

1. An European wide hydrogen production and distribution infrastructure should be implemented;

2. The reliability and interoperability of hydrogen-based components and systems should be improved;

3. Significant cost-reductions are required to make hydrogen applications competitive with conventional solutions, which will in turn contribute to sustain high investor confidence and to reach a broader consumer base; and

4. Awareness should be raised on the importance of hydrogen technologies to cope with climate related challenges and a supportive legal framework should be set up, such as the EU Green Deal, supporting the development and market uptake of hydrogen solutions.

B) INN-BALANCE indirectly supports the reduction of CO2 emissions by paving the way for a carbon free transport in Europe. INN-BALANCE also contributes to EU Green Deal goals by developing highly innovative components and technologies, leading to a sustainable EU industry and growth and the creation of new jobs in the automotive and hydrogen sector. The communication and dissemination activities carried out as part of the project help to reach a higher acceptance for green mobility, which in turn leads to an increased willingness to buy low-emitting vehicles powered by green hydrogen.
C) The aim of INN-BALANCE is to develop a novel and integrated development platform for developing advanced Balance of Plant components in current fuel cell based vehicles, in order to improve their efficiency and reliability, reducing costs and presenting a stable supply chain to the European car manufacturers and system integrators. Accordingly, INN-BALANCE technical objectives are (i) to develop highly efficient and reliable fuel cell BoP components; (ii) to reduce costs of current market products in fuel cell systems; (iii) to achieve high technology readiness levels (TRL7 or higher) in all the tackled developments; and (iv) to improve and tailor development tools for design, modelling and testing innovative components in fuel cell based vehicles. To this end, a European Consortium composed by major automotive companies, consulting groups, research institutes and universities was established. INN-BALANCE will be focused on four main general topics; first of all on new components developments, addressing the latest changes and trends in fuel cells vehicles technology, from new air turbo-compressor, anode recirculation/injection module and advanced control/diagnosis devices to new concepts of thermal management and anti-freeze units based on standard automotive components; secondly, on the vehicle integration and validation of the components in a TRL7 platform placed at a well-known car manufacturing platform; thirdly, providing innovative and cost optimized manufacturing processes especially developed for automotive BoP components; finally, on the results dissemination and exploitation, new technology broadcasting and public awareness of new, low-cost and reliable clean energy solutions in Europe bringing at the same time highly qualified new job opportunities.
All BoP components was developed and tested at subsystem level, whereafter they were succesfully integrated into a vehicular platform, and performed verification under automotive conditions.
The analysis, packaging study, FCS assembly and vehicle integration has proven that it is possible to build an FCEV and operate the FCS in question on the vehicular platform. The designed software and control structure is proved to work properly in the real time vehicle tests on road - the state-machine, as the central part of the supervisory controller, coordinates the BoP subsystems, and the FCS processes, such as STARTUP, SHUTDOWN, were done successfully. Ultimately a car that runs independently on hydrogen has been developed.

Work performed:

1 Proposed a (1+1D) control oriented model, distributed in the direction of the fuel cell reactant channels. The conversion from potentiostatic to galvanostatic mode of operation was done, because this is the operating mode in automotive applications for ability to run startup and run mode. 2 An improved solution was proposed to calculate the distribution of current along the channels in galvanostatic mode, which gives an improved calculation of the distributed consumption of species in both the anodic and cathodic semi-reactions. The model is validated using experimental data of the Powercell stack. 3 A state-machine architecture as a basic structure that contains all the operating states required to manage the PEMFC system processes, such as the START-UP, SHUTDOWN, and RUN in the vehicle was proposed.4 Designed a power limit calculator to estimate the available stack power for the vehicle control unit’s energy management. 5 Determine the DC/DC converter set-point current based on the measurement of the air flow that instantaneously enter the cathode channel. In this way, the controller assures a safe amount of current applied to the fuel cell considering the compressor dynamic behavior and, prevents oxygen starvation. 6 Design an optimum setpoint calculator based on a detailed model of the fuel cell stack corresponding to the inn-balance system to produce the setpoints for the subsystem local controllers. 7 Proposed a fuel cell supervisory controller including the statemachine, optimal setpoint generator and the power limit calculator to control the fuel cell system process and cordinates the subsystem local controllers. 8 Evaluate the proposed supervisory controller using a software in loop test of the standard driving cycle and the detailed model of all the major balance of plant components of the INN-Balance project.
1- Pomar, J.C. Dombrovski, J.K. Serra, M., & Husar, A. (2019). PEM automotive stack model with experimental validation. 7th Iberian Symposium on Hydrogen, Fuel Cells and Advanced Batteries.
2-Luna, J., Usai, E., Husar, A., Serra, M. (2017). Enhancing the efficiency and lifetime of a proton exchange membrane fuel cell using nonlinear model-predictive control with nonlinear observation. IEEE Transactions on Industrial Electronics 64(8): 6649-6659.
3- Gómez, J.C. Serra, M., Husar, A. (2021). Controller design for polymer electrolyte membrane fuel cell systems for automotive applications. International Journal of Hydrogen Energy, 46(45), 23263-23278
4- Knorr, F., Garcia Sanchez, D., Schirmer, J., Gazdzicki, P., Friedrich, K.A. (2019). Methanol as antifreeze agent for cold start of automotive polymer electrolyte membrane fuel cells. Applied Energy 238: 1-10
5- Aguilar, J. A., Husar, A. (2019). Load profile effect on durability of proton exchange membrane fuel cells. 7th Iberian Symposium on Hydrogen, Fuel Cells and Advanced Batteries
6- Eldigair, Y., Garelli, F., Kunusch, C., Ocampo-Martinez, C. (2020). Adaptive PI control with robust variable structure anti-windup strategy for systems with rate-limited actuators: Application to compression systems. Control Engineering Practice, 96: 104282
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