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SYSTEM AND METHOD FOR TESTING FUEL CELL

IP.com Disclosure Number: IPCOM000193741D
Publication Date: 2010-Mar-08
Document File: 7 page(s) / 52K

Publishing Venue

The IP.com Prior Art Database

Abstract

An improved system and method for testing and diagnosing a fuel cell is disclosed. The proposed system further facilitates in evaluating fuel cell performance and long term degradation. The proposed method utilizes potentiostat power supply to test the fuel cell. The method includes selecting a voltage set point, supplying power to the fuel cell, monitoring voltage and correcting voltage errors.

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RP13170

BRIEF ABSTRACT

    An improved system and method for testing and diagnosing a fuel cell is disclosed. The proposed system further facilitates in evaluating fuel cell performance and long term degradation. The proposed method utilizes potentiostat power supply to test the fuel cell. The method includes selecting a voltage set point, supplying power to the fuel cell, monitoring voltage and correcting voltage errors.

KEYWORDS

    Fuel cell, testing, potentiostat, diode, data acquisition, power supply, relay, Proportional Integral Derivative (PID), performance, degradation, voltage, error

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

    A fuel cell is a device that uses an electrochemical process to generate electrical power utilizing the reaction of hydrogen and oxygen. A typical fuel cell is comprised of a multitude of individual fuel cells electrically connected in series to provide a practical voltage output, a voltage equal to the sum of all the individual fuel cells. Such an arrangement of the multitude of individual cells is referred to as a "fuel cell stack". The fuel cell stack typically consists of 10 to 100 cells to realize a total output voltage that is practical for use as an electrical power generation device.

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SYSTEM AND METHOD FOR TESTING FUEL CELL

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RP13170

    Further, since the output voltage of the fuel cell stack equals the sum of each of the individual cells electrically connected in series, the overall performance of the fuel cell stack is an average of the performance of each individual cell. Furthermore, as all the individual cells are electrically connected in series, a failure of one individual cell could possibly compromise the performance of the entire fuel cell stack. Therefore, it is required to monitor the performance of individual cells or groups of cells and determine degradation of each of the individual cells in order to insure the overall performance of the fuel cell stack.

    Conventionally, various techniques have been developed for diagnosing the fuel cells. However, such techniques are laborious and time consuming. For example, a probe is manually repositioned to successively contact each of the fuel cells within the stack in one of the existing techniques. Further, various electronic load hardware are utilized in fuel cell testing. Such electronic loads are limited in power capabilities, and a number of channels. The operating range of such hardware is limited. Furthermore, the electronic loads are expensive. Overall, the existing techniques result in lower production output and higher costs. Therefore, there is a need of an improved method and system for providing an automated, nondestructive testing of the fuel cells and/or the fuel cell stacks.

    Figure 1 illustrates a block diagram of a system for diagnosing a fuel cell using a programmable potentiostat power supply. The proposed system includes an apparatus and a fuel cell. The apparatus is utilized to test the fuel cell. The apparatus includes a computer, a data...