Modeling a PEM Fuel Cell
Model a proton exchange membrane (PEM) fuel cell with a custom Simscape™ block. The PEM fuel cell generates electrical power by consuming hydrogen and oxygen and producing water vapor. The custom block represents the membrane electrode assembly (MEA) and is connected to two separate moist air networks: one for the anode gas flow and one for the cathode gas flow.
The two moist air networks represent different gas mixtures. The anode network consists of nitrogen (N2), water vapor (H2O), and hydrogen (H2), representing the fuel. The hydrogen, stored in a fuel tank, is supplied through a pressure-reducing valve to the fuel cell stack. Unconsumed hydrogen is recirculated back to the stack. The cathode network consists of nitrogen (N2), water vapor (H2O), and oxygen (O2), representing air from the environment. A compressor brings air to the fuel cell stack at a controlled rate to ensure that the fuel cell is not starved of oxygen. A back pressure relief valve maintains pressure in the stack and vents the exhaust to the environment.
The temperature and relative humidity in the fuel cell stack is maintained at an optimal level to ensure efficient operation under various loading conditions. The cooling system circulates coolant between the cells to absorb heat and rejects it to the environment via the radiator. The humidifiers saturate the gas with water vapor to keep the membrane hydrated and minimize electrical resistance.
Gernot Schraberger is principal application engineer in the Munich office of MathWorks with 14 years of experience in that position. His main application focus is on electrification, physical system modeling, and control design. Prior to joining MathWorks, Gernot worked as a development engineer for motor control and embedded software engineering in the semiconductor manufacturing industry. Gernot holds a master’s degree in automation engineering from the Technical University of Munich.
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