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TM

Hy-Expert Instructor
Fuel Cell System

Experiments Guide
Including Components Description

Heliocentris Energiesysteme GmbH


TM
Experiments guide and components description for the Hy-Expert Instructor Fuel Cell System

5th Edition, September 2005

Copyright © 2005 Heliocentris Energiesysteme GmbH

All rights reserved. These manual and individual parts thereof are protected by copyright. All
exploitation, duplication or photocopying is prohibited except in cases permitted by law.
Components of the hy-Expert™ Instructor Fuel Cell System are protected by patent applications
and/or registered designs.

Head office: North American customers contact:

Heliocentris Energiesysteme GmbH Heliocentris Energy Systems Inc.


Rudower Chaussee 29 3250 East Mall
12489 Berlin Vancouver, BC
Germany Canada V6T 1W5
Tel. (+49 30) 63 92 63 26 Tel. 604 827 5066
Fax (+49 30) 63 92 63 29 Fax 604 827 5069
berlin@heliocentris.com vancouver@heliocentris.com
www.heliocentris.com www.heliocentris.com
General notes

General notes

Heliocentris Energiesysteme GmbH provides this documentation to facilitate the safe and
correct use of the hy-ExpertTM Instructor fuel cell system. All statements, technical information
and recommendations in this documentation and accompanying documents are believed
reliable, but the accuracy and completeness thereof are not guaranteed or warranted. They
are not intended to be, nor should they be understood to be, representations or warranties
concerning the products described.
The following Components Description is a brief version of the hy-ExpertTM Instructor
Operation Guide. It is intended to assist while operation under the supervision of
trained personnel and does not replace the Operation Guide. Before operating this fuel
cell system, please make sure to read and understand the information of the hy-
ExpertTM Instructor Operation Guide. If you have questions, please contact Heliocentris
Energiesysteme GmbH or your supplier.
The hy-ExpertTM Instructor fuel cell system has been sold subject to the limited warranties set
forth in the warranty statement. Further, Heliocentris reserves the right to make changes in
the specifications of the products described in this manual at any time without notice and
without obligation to notify any person of such changes.

© Heliocentris – Energizing education


Table of contents

Table of contents

A: Operating References
A.1 Warnings and safety references
A.2 Product overview
A.3 Fuel Cell Module FC50
A.4 Electronic Load Module EL200
A.5 Voltage Converter Module VC100
A.6 Traffic Light Module TL10
A.7 Control software
A.8 Hydrogen supply option I: Connection set for compressed hydrogen
cylinders
A.9 Hydrogen supply option II: Metal hydride storage with refilling kit
A.10 Hydrogen supply option III: Hydrogen generator with metal hydride
storage

B: Technical basics and didactics


B.1 Learning objectives
B.2 Teaching references and methodology
B.3 Recommended web sites
B.4 References for further reading

© Heliocentris – Energizing education


Table of contents

C: Teacher guides for the experiments


C.1 The basic functions of the fuel cell system
C.2 The characteristic curve of a fuel cell
C.3 Parameters influencing the characteristic curve
C.4 Determination of the hydrogen current curve
C.5 Efficiency of the fuel cell stack
C.6 Set-up of a fuel cell power supply
C.7 Efficiency of a fuel cell power supply
C.8 Fuel cell application I: Remote traffic light
C.9 Fuel cell application II: Fuel cell car

D: Student experiments
D.1 The basic functions of the fuel cell system
D.2 The characteristic curve of a fuel cell
D.3 Parameters influencing the characteristic curve
D.4 Determination of the hydrogen current curve
D.5 Efficiency of the fuel cell stack
D.6 Set-up of a fuel cell power supply
D.7 Efficiency of a fuel cell power supply
D.8 Fuel cell application I: Remote traffic light
D.9 Fuel cell application II: Fuel cell car

© Heliocentris – Energizing education


A.1 Warnings and Safety References 1

A.1 Warnings and Safety References

1 Symbols used in this guide

The following symbols are used in the Experiments Guide to indicate warnings and specific
dangers:

Indicates a potentially dangerous situation. Serious injuries


Warning can occur if this reference is ignored.

Warning Indicates danger of explosion.

Warning Indicates danger from rotary parts.

Warning Indicates danger of short-circuits or electrical shock.

Prohibition No open fire!

Prohibition Smoking prohibited!

Prohibition Do not attempt to extinguish with water!

Draws attention to application tips and other useful


Reference
information. This is not a reference to dangerous situations.

Indicates highly flammable material.

© Heliocentris – Energizing education


2 Warnings and Safety References A.1

2 General Warnings and Safety Instructions

The hy-ExpertTM Instructor fuel cell system has been developed and manufactured according
to recognized technical regulations and is tested for function and safety before delivery.
The hy-ExpertTM Instructor fuel cell system is a laboratory instrument designed for
operation by trained personnel in education and research. The hy-ExpertTM Instructor
is not a "consumer-oriented" product, whose appropriate operation is generally
known and which is protected against operation errors or inappropriate use. Improper
operation or abuse can lead to dangers to the health of the operator, the fuel cell
system itself and other property items.
The Fuel cell system produces low voltage electricity by converting hydrogen
electrochemically. The hydrogen is stored in pressurized cylinders, a metal hydride tank, or
generated by a special hydrogen generator.
The operating and maintenance conditions laid down in these Components Descriptions
must be observed. If the hy-ExpertTM Instructor fuel cell system is passed on to a third party,
the Operating Instructions must also be passed on.

3 Restricted use

The hy-ExpertTM Instructor fuel cell system and its components may only be used for
experimentation, demonstration or research purposes. All other uses are not intended and
therefore prohibited.
For safety reasons, unauthorized modifications or changes to the system or its
components are prohibited. The parts and components of the system may not be
disassembled. In particular, all gas components, such as the gas fittings or the
mounting bolts of the fuel cell stack must not be loosened, since this can cause
hydrogen leakage.

4 Sources of danger

Source of danger Possible consequences Precautions


Use of hydrogen Fire and danger of Avoid open fire and smoking in the
explosion vicinity.

Avoid electrostatic charges.


Wrong polarity when Danger of short-circuits Make sure to have the correct
making electrical polarity when making the electrical
connections connections.

Rotating parts of the Danger from rotating parts Do not put your fingers or other
cooling fans items into the fan housing.

© Heliocentris – Energizing education


A.1 Warnings and Safety References 3

5 Authorized operators

Anyone setting-up, operating or maintaining the hy-ExpertTM Instructor fuel cell system must
be aware of applicable local industrial health and safety regulations. Measures must be taken
to prevent unauthorized persons installing, operating or maintaining the system.
In education, the hy-ExpertTM Instructor fuel cell system may only be used by students under
the supervision of teaching staff. As the teacher you must ensure proper handling of the
system. You have an obligation to draw attention to potential dangers. Installation, start-up,
shut-down—and if necessary, maintenance—of the hydrogen supply as well as filling
the metal hydride storage device may be done only through the teaching staff.

6 Workplace

The hy-ExpertTM Instructor fuel cell system is intended for installation and operation in
a suitable laboratory area. In particular, the room must be equipped with an effective air-
evacuation system that prevents the formation of explosive hydrogen-air mixtures in the
event of any uncontrolled escape of hydrogen. Measures must also be taken to avoid
electrostatic discharge.
Local safety regulations that apply at the installation site must be observed. This
applies in particular to the use and storage of hydrogen compressed gas cylinders that are
not part of the supplied system.
The fuel cell system must be installed on a stable, horizontal and solid base; it must stand
firm.
The catalysts and membranes of the fuel cell are sensitive to dust and reactive chemicals,
e.g. H2S and other sulfur compounds, carbon monoxide, ammonia, chlorine compounds,
solvents, etc. The system must therefore not be set up, operated or stored in rooms where
there is a risk of exposure to these substances.
The permissible working temperature is between +5 °C and +35 °C.

© Heliocentris – Energizing education


4 Warnings and Safety References A.1

7 Safety information about using hydrogen

• Hydrogen is a highly flammable gas.


• Users must take care to ensure that hydrogen is not allowed to collect in an
enclosed or unventilated area, which would cause a flammability hazard
• Avoid heat in the area surrounding the fuel cell system and hydrogen source.
• Smoking and open flames are forbidden.
• Measures must be taken to avoid electrostatic charge.

In addition to its fire danger, hydrogen if allowed to collect in an enclosed or unventilated


area can displace oxygen, thereby creating a risk of asphyxiation. The operator must ensure
the following safety precautions are met:
• Adequate ventilation of the laboratory area
• Proper installation of the hydrogen equipment
• Regular examination of the hydrogen piping and connections for leaks.

8 Safety precautions in an emergency

Significant hydrogen escape:


• Do not operate electrical devices, light switches, etc. as an explosive gas mixture
could be present in the area.
• Immediately shut off the hydrogen source.
• Provide adequate ventilation to clear the affected area.

Fire or explosion:
• Immediately shut off the hydrogen source.
• Report the fire and follow the fire response procedures for your laboratory.
• Leave escaping hydrogen to "burn down". The flame of burning hydrogen is not
visible!
• Use a class D fire extinguisher or dry sand to extinguish burning metal hydride
powder. Do not use water or CO2 extinguishers. If smoldering metal hydride
powder cannot ignite adjacent materials, it may be best to leave the hydride burning.

Other emergencies not involving hydrogen escape:


Immediately switch off the FC50, remove its hydrogen connecting tube and if necessary
close the valve of the compressed hydrogen cylinder or the metal hydride storage canister.

© Heliocentris – Energizing education


1 Product Overview A.2

A.2 Product overview

1 Basic package

The Basic system package includes essential components of the hy-ExpertTM Instructor fuel
cell system. These are the minimum components needed to perform experiments 1 through
5 (basic experiments). Hydrogen is supplied using one of the three listed options.
Pressurized hydrogen cylinders needed for options I and II must be obtained from the local
technical gas supplier.

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Module EL200

Component Item No.


Fuel Cell Module FC50 610
(including power supply, control software, documentation)
Electronic Load module EL200 620
Choice of Hydrogen Supply Options:
I Connection set for compressed gas cylinders 630
II Metal hydride storage with refilling kit 642
III Hydrogen generator with metal hydride storage 652

© Heliocentris – Energizing education


A.2 Product Overview 2

2 Off-grid package

In addition to essential components of the hy-ExpertTM Instructor fuel cell system, the Off-grid
system package includes the additional devices which are necessary to build a grid-
independent fuel cell power supply. With this package the application-orientated experiments
6 through 9 can also be performed. Hydrogen is supplied using one of the three listed
options. Pressurized hydrogen cylinders needed for options I and II must be obtained from
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TL10 VC100 Module EL200

Component Item No.


Fuel Cell Module FC50 610
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Electronic Load Module EL200 620
Voltage Converter Module VC100 621
Traffic Light Module TL10 622
Choice of Hydrogen Supply Options:
I Connection set for compressed gas cylinders 630
II Metal hydride storage with refilling kit 642
III Hydrogen generator with metal hydride storage 652

© Heliocentris – Energizing education


1 Fuel Cell Module FC50 A.3

A.3 Fuel Cell Module FC50

1 Use

The FC50 Fuel Cell Module is the central component of the hy-ExpertTM Instructor fuel cell
system. It must only be used with one of the hydrogen supply options sold by
Heliocentris.

2 Overview and parts list


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1 Quick coupler connection for hydrogen supply


2 Start button
3 Control connection to hydrogen supply valve
4 RS232 connector to computer
5 Main switch
6 RS485 system data bus connector
7 12V DC power input
8 Fuel cell stack power output
9 Purge valve with hose connection
10 Fan power control
11 Fuel cell stack
12 Cooling and air supply fans
13 Hydrogen flow meter

© Heliocentris – Energizing education


A.3 Fuel Cell Module FC50 2

3 Basic functions

The fuel cell stack is designed for hydrogen-air operation. Hydrogen is supplied through a
gas-tight quick-coupler (1); air is blown into the cells at atmospheric pressure by the fans (12)
attached to the cell stack (11). The fans provide air both for the electro-chemical cell reaction
and for cooling.
In the fuel cell stack, 10 single cells are connected in series. The current is tapped via current
collectors at the two end plates.
The fans (12) are controlled either by the user or the internal control. If the fan control knob
(10) is in the position "AUTO", the fan speed is set automatically according to the stack
power output, so that adequate cooling is ensured at all times. In positions other than
“AUTO”, the user has direct control of the fan speed. Detailed operating conditions are given
in the experiment guides.
The purging valve (9) automatically opens at intervals to purge the system. This is necessary
to clear inert gases and water vapor from the fuel cell stack (11).
The integrated microprocessor controls the fuel cell and monitors system status. It also
communicates with modules EL200 and VC100, and your computer, if attached.

4 Hydrogen source

For operating the FC 50 the purity of supplied hydrogen gas must be at least 4.0 (99.99 %
pure). The permissible hydrogen input pressure is 0.4…0.8 bar gauge.
Using hydrogen of purity 5.0 (99.999 % pure) will increase the life of the fuel cell stack.

© Heliocentris – Energizing education


3 Fuel Cell Module FC50 A.3

5 Operation directions

5.1 Start-up
Observe the safety instructions during installation and start-up. Provide adequate ventilation
and keep away from sources of ignition.

5.2 Manual operation, powered by external AC power supply:


• Place the FC50 panel into the upper right area of the support frame.

• Plug the connection cable of the 12V DC regulated power supply into the “12V=” jack (7)
of the FC50 and plug the power supply into an AC power outlet.

• Using the supplied test leads, connect a suitable load to the stack power output (8).
Observe correct polarity.

If you are using the Electronic Load Module EL200 as a load:


(See chapter A.4 for details)
o Place the EL200 panel into the lower right area of the support frame.
o Using the supplied power cord, connect the EL200 to an AC power outlet, and turn on
the power switch (located behind the front plate, right side).
o Using the short test leads, connect the stack power output (8) of the FC50 to the load
input of the EL200. Observe correct polarity.
o Ensure that the multi-turn load potentiometer is set to zero (fully counterclockwise).
o Turn the switch on the EL200 front plate to "ON".

• Attach your chosen hydrogen supply with the quick-coupler to the hydrogen input (1) of
the FC50. Connect the cable of your hydrogen supply’s solenoid valve to connector "H2-
supply" (3).
For the correct start-up of your hydrogen supply refer to the appropriate installation and
operating instructions found in chapters A.8 to A.10 of this Guide.

• Set the fan power knob (10) to “AUTO”.

• Turn the main switch (5) to “ON”.

• Press the “Start” button (2).

• The system now performs a self-check for about 10 seconds. If no error occurs, the FC50
begins operating. If an error occurs the error message is displayed in the display “H2
flow”. In this case please refer to section 8 of this chapter “Error messages and causes”.

© Heliocentris – Energizing education


A.3 Fuel Cell Module FC50 4

5.3 Manual operation, self-powered by the VC100 module:

• Place the FC50 panel into the upper right area of the support frame, and the VC100 in the
lower center area.

• Using the supplied test leads, connect the FC50 stack power output (8) to the voltage
input of the VC100. Observe correct polarity.

• Using the provided 3-pin cable, connect the output marked "Parasitic load" of the VC100
to the "12V =" jack (7) of the FC50.

• Connect a load (e.g. EL200 or TL10) to the output marked "available power" of the
VC100. Observe correct polarity. (In addition to the VC100, you can connect additional
loads directly to the FC50 stack power output.) Use only the supplied test leads for
connecting loads.

If you are using the Electronic Load Module EL200 as a load:


(See chapter A.4 for details)
o Place the EL200 panel into the lower right area of the support frame.
o Using the supplied power cord, connect the EL200 to an AC power outlet, and turn on
the power switch (located behind the front plate, right side).
o Using the short test leads, connect the stack power output (8) of the FC50 to the load
input of the EL200. Observe correct polarity.
o Ensure that the multi-turn load potentiometer is set to zero (fully counterclockwise).
o Turn the switch on the EL200 front plate to "ON".

• Attach your chosen hydrogen supply with the quick-coupler to the hydrogen input (1) of
the FC50. Connect the cable of your hydrogen supply’s solenoid valve to connector "H2-
supply" (3).
For the correct start-up of your hydrogen supply refer to the appropriate installation and
operating instructions found in chapters A.8 to A.10 of this guide.

• Set the fan power knob (10) to “AUTO”.

• Turn the main switch (5) to “ON”.

• Press the “Start” button (2).

• Initially powered by the starting battery of the VC100, the FC50 system now performs a
self-check for about 10 seconds. If no error occurs, the FC50 begins operating. The
VC100, now receiving voltage from the fuel cell stack, continues to power the FC50 with
regulated 12V DC. If an error message is displayed, please refer to section 8 of this
chapter “Error messages and causes”.

© Heliocentris – Energizing education


5 Fuel Cell Module FC50 A.3

5.4 Computer-assisted operation:


Computer-assisted operation is available regardless of how the FC50 is powered. In
computer-assisted operation, you can adjust the EL200 load current and FC50 fan power
only through the computer. The computer monitors and logs all system parameters of the
FC50 and also, through the RS485 data connections, the EL200 and VC100.
Before you run the FC50 software, ensure the following conditions exist:

• The long 9-pin cable connects "RS232" (4) on the FC50 with a COM port on the
computer.
• The short 9-pin cables connect "RS485" (6) on the FC50 with the EL200 and if necessary
connect the EL200 and VC100.
• The provided experiment software has been correctly installed on the computer.
• The FC50 is not yet started.

Then run the software and select one of the experiment programs. The program will ask you
to start the FC50 by pressing the start button (2). When you do, the FC50 begins to run in a
computer-assisted mode. See chapter A.7 “Control software” for details of the FC50
experiment software.

6 Shutting down

When you are through using the system, proceed as follows to shut down and turn off:
• Turn off any attached load.
• If using the EL200:
Turn the potentiometer fully anti-clockwise, move the switch to the "OFF" position and turn
off the power switch located on the side of the module. See chapter A.4 for details.
• Turn the fan control knob (10) to "AUTO" and turn the main switch (5) to "OFF".
• Shut down the hydrogen supply following the detailed descriptions found in chapters A.8
to A.10 in this Guide.

Compressed gas cylinder: Shut off cylinder main valve.


Metal hydride storage canister: Close shut-off valve of the storage canister.

• Disconnect the quick-coupler at the FC50 hydrogen inlet (1).

© Heliocentris – Energizing education


A.3 Fuel Cell Module FC50 6

7 Factors affecting operation

The performance of a fuel cell system and the voltages of individual cells of the stack are
affected by various factors. The most important are:
• Current
• Temperature
• Air supply
• Prior operating conditions, especially the wetness of the membrane.

Because of the complexity of the system, no universal rules for its management can be
given. In the Experiments Guide detailed investigations are described, in which parameters
can be varied, to demonstrate the relations and dependences of those parameters. Usually
optimal operating parameters are achieved only after a series of tests.

We recommend using the experiment guide as the basis of your work,


observing the guidelines contained there.

Before attempting your own experiments with the fuel cell system, become familiar with the
system parameters as described in the Experiments Guide. Also, in order to avoid damage to
the fuel cells and to achieve good electrical efficiency:
• Control the fan power so that the stack temperature does not exceed 45 °C. If the
temperature exceeds 50 °C, the system automatically shuts down.
• The longer the fuel cell stack is in continuous operation, the more powerful the stack
becomes. After long periods without use, the membranes can dry out and the stack
may need a longer time to reach its full power.

8 Error messages and causes

The microprocessor control of the FC50 is responsible for the management of the fuel cell
system, for the monitoring of limit values and for the safety shut down of the system. In case
of an operation error, the system will go into an error state, in which it:
• Puts the system into a safe condition, switching off the hydrogen supply and
disconnecting the power output from the stack;
• Displays an error code for 30 seconds in the top-left window—labeled "H2 flow";
• After 30 seconds turns off the system completely.
While the system is in the error state, or after turning off, you can restart it by pressing the
start button. If the reason for the error still exists, the system again displays the error code.
The following table lists individual errors and appropriate responses.

© Heliocentris – Energizing education


7 Fuel Cell Module FC50 A.3

Error Description State: reason Response


code
Er 01 Hydrogen is Starting: after three seconds of • See if hydrogen supply is empty,
missing purging the cell, the voltage of the or improperly connected.
last cell of the stack is still below
0.6 V
Er 02 Voltage of the Starting: < 7.5 V • Reduce load on the fuel cell
fuel cell stack too Operation: <4V system
low • Set fan power knob to "AUTO”
• Excessive load
• Fan power set too low
Er 03 Temperature of Starting: > 45 °C • Ensure cooling fans are working
the fuel cell stack Operation: > 50 °C • Set fan power higher or to
too high "AUTO”
• Fan power set too low
• Ensure the ambient temperature
is within range
Er 04 Load current too Current > 10.5 A • Ensure no short-circuit is present
high • In self-powered mode, • Reduce the load
activating the purge valve briefly
increases the load
Er 05 Leaking in the Starting: Hydrogen flow > 60 If this error occurs several times, the
system ml/min with no current system has a hydrogen leak.
Operation: Hydrogen flow > 40 • Return FC50 to the manufacturer
ml/min over expected value for examination.
Er 06 No voltage In self-powered mode: • Ensure stack power output is
supply to FC50 • Fuel cell stack power output not connected to the input of VC100
connected to VC100 input
Er 07 Communication Computer-assisted operation: • Ensure RS232 cable attached
with computer • RS232-cable not connected • Start control software
interrupted
• Control program not running • Ensure your computer meets
• Computer too slow to respond requirements

Er 08 EL200 problem Temperature in Electronic Load too • Turn off the EL200
high • Ensure cooling fans at the rear of
Voltage at the input of Electronic the EL200 are working
Load > 20 V
Er 10 Cooling fan Starting: Cooling fan power not set • Set fan power knob to "AUTO”
control to "AUTO"
Er 11 No internal In self-powered mode: • Ensure cells are properly installed
power in VC100 • Starting battery dead or in the VC100.
improperly installed • Renew cells if necessary.

© Heliocentris – Energizing education


A.3 Fuel Cell Module FC50 8

9 Improper modes of operation

The fuel cells must be sufficiently supplied with hydrogen at all times. Starving the
stack of hydrogen while current is being drawn can lead to the destruction of the
membranes or catalysts.

Never connect the fuel cell to an external power source (e.g. laboratory power
supply or solar module). A current flow forced from outside can immediately
destroy the fuel cell.

10 Technical data

Fuel cell stack


Rated power output 40 W
Maximum power output Approx. 50 W
Open circuit voltage Approx. 9 V
Current at rated power 8A
Voltage at rated power 5V
Maximum Current 10 A
Hydrogen consumption during rated Approx. 580 NmL/min
output
Hydrogen nominal pressure 0.6 ± 0.1 bar gauge
Max. permissible hydrogen pressure 0.4…0.8 bar gauge
Max. permissible cell temperature Operation: 50 °C
Starting: 45 °C

Module FC50
Supply voltage 12V DC
Power consumption no-load operation: 5.2 W
at 10A load current: 6.4 W
Hydrogen connection Swagelok® quick-coupler type QM2-S
Ambient operating temperature +5 …+35 °C
Dimensions 400 x 297 x 200 mm (WxHxD)
Weight 3.5 kg
Noise emissions < 70 dB(A)
Transport and storage conditions Protect against reactive chemicals and frost

© Heliocentris – Energizing education


1 Electronic Load Module EL200 A.4

A.4 Electronic Load Module EL200

1 Use

The EL200 Electronic Load Module is used as a variable load in the hy-ExpertTM Instructor
system. It is designed to work optimally with the FC50 fuel cell stack.
It is intended to be used only for educational and research purposes.

2 Overview and parts list


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1 RS485 system data bus connectors


2 Status indicator
3 Switch to connect/disconnect load
4 Load adjustment
5 Connection to load
6 (on the right side) Socket for power cord and main on/off switch

© Heliocentris – Energizing education


A.4 Electronic Load Module EL200 2

3 Basic function

When connected to a voltage source this electronic load functions as an electronically


regulated resistance converting electrical energy into heat in a controlled way. The EL200
works in the so-called constant current mode compensating for voltage fluctuations in the
load circuit and adjusting the resistance to maintain a constant current. A 10-turn
potentiometer on the front panel allows the load current to be precisely set.

4 Operation directions

4.1 Start-up
• Place the EL200 panel into the lower right area of the support frame. Ensure sufficient air
circulation at the rear of the module, so heat produced in the device can be dissipated. In
particular, do not block the vent openings.

• Attach the power cord to the AC power socket (6) at the right rear of the module and plug
it into an AC power outlet.

• Set the load control (4) to zero (anti-clockwise) and the front panel switch (3) to “OFF”.
This will prevent an uncontrolled load current flowing when the module is turned on.

• Turn on the power switch (6) at the right rear of the module.

• Using two of the supplied 4mm test leads, connect the load input (5) to either the FC50
power output or the VC100 power output.

4.2 Manual operation


• Set the front panel load switch (3) to "ON".

• Use the potentiometer (4) to adjust the current flowing into the electronic load. The load
current is shown in the “current” display of the FC50. The actual power drawn by the
electronic load (load current times the clamp voltage) is shown in the “power” display of
the EL200.

• Changing the position of load switch (3) will make abrupt changes in the load. However,
before you make large load changes in this way, make sure that the fuel cell has been in
operation for a while. Sudden large changes in loading can damage cells that are not
thoroughly wet.

© Heliocentris – Energizing education


3 Electronic Load Module EL200 A.4

4.3 Computer-assisted operation


Connection/disconnection of the load and a current setting can be externally controlled
through the RS485 interface (1). Power values from the EL200 are also available through
this interface. Thus the EL200 can be operated with the FC50 in computer-assisted mode.
In order to control the EL200 through your computer, proceed as follows:
• Using the supplied data cable, connect the RS485 socket (1) on the EL200 with the
RS485 plug on the FC50.

• Start computer-assisted operation of the FC50, as described in section 3.6.

• Set the front panel load switch (3) to "ON".

4.4 Shutting down


• Set the load control potentiometer (4) to zero (anti-clockwise).

• Set the front panel load switch (3) to "OFF".

• Turn off the power switch (6) at the right rear of the module

• If appropriate, remove all cables from the equipment.

5 Possible malfunctions

Overloading the EL200 leads to excess temperatures and a temporary safety shutdown.
When the temperature has returned to normal, operation is automatically restored.
If the excess voltage protection activates, disconnect the load from the voltage source to
restore operation.
All other malfunctions and irregularities can only be repaired by the manufacturer. In such
cases please notify your dealer, who will advise you about further measures to be taken.

6 Improper modes of operation

The Electronic Load EL200 must not be connected to sources of alternating


current. It must not be connected to sources of direct current that exceed 20 V.

Always operate the EL200 with the supplied test leads, in order to keep the contact
resistances to a minimum and prevent heating of the supply terminals.

© Heliocentris – Energizing education


A.4 Electronic Load Module EL200 4

7 Technical data

Maximum continuous load 200 W (cooling by fans)


Load voltage 1.2…20 V DC
Load current 0…10 A
Control Manual by 10-turn potentiometer,
externally by RS485 data bus
Stability (with ∆V load ± 20%) ≤ 0.1% of I max + 3 mA
Overload protection Power limiter, cut-off at excess
temperatures, automatic power restore
Protection against reverse polarity Diode and fuse
Overvoltage protection Disconnection at VLoad, max + 10%
Insulation voltage 1,5 kVeff load input to cabinet
2,5 kVeff mains to load input
AC power supply 115/230 V AC, 50…60 Hz
Ambient operating temperature +5 … +35 °C
Noise emission < 70 dB(A)
Dimensions 400 x 297 x 135 mm
Weight 5.4 kg
Transportation and storage conditions Protect against humidity

© Heliocentris – Energizing education


1 Voltage Converter Module VC100 A.5

A.5 Voltage Converter Module VC100

1 Use

The VC100 Voltage Converter Module supplies regulated power for the FC50 module control
and fans, so that you can operate the hy-ExpertTM Instructor fuel cell system as a “grid-
independent” power supply. It can also provide power for other devices that need 12V DC.
It is intended to be used only for educational and research purposes.

2 Overview and parts list

+ 5
1
,1

9

9

287

3DUDVLWLF/RDG $YDLODEOH3RZHU

W W
(LJHQEHGDUI 1XW]OHLVWXQJ

3 + 4

1 RS485 system data bus connectors


2 Start-up battery holders
3 12V DC power output for FC50 control system and fans
4 12V DC power output
5 Unregulated power input (2…10 V DC)

© Heliocentris – Energizing education


A.5 Voltage Converter Module VC100 2

3 Basic functions

The VC100 acts as a DC-to-DC converter or a kind of "step-up transformer". It converts an


input voltage within the range of 2…10 V DC into a regulated 12 V DC output.
To avoid thermal overload caused by exceeding the output power level, the converter has
integrated current regulation to limit the input current.
When the voltage converter is connected so it supplies the FC50 with control and fan power,
(modeling a grid-independent system), an internal battery allows the VC100 to provide power
to the system during the 10-second starting sequence until the fuel cell itself can generate
power.

4 Operation directions

• Place the VC100 panel into the lower middle area of the support frame. Ensure sufficient
air circulation at the rear of the module, so heat produced in the device can be dissipated.
In particular, do not block the vent openings.
• Place the 8 supplied alkaline cells into the battery holders. Observe the polarity as
indicated in the battery holders. Press the battery holders into the VC100 front panel until
they positively engage.
• Use the 4mm test leads to connect the VC100 power input (5) with the FC50 stack power
output.
• If you want to operate the system in self-powered (“grid-independent”) mode, use the
provided cable to connect the output (3) of the VC100 (3pin socket) with the FC50
connector labeled "12V =".
• Use the provided test leads to attach suitable loads such as the traffic light module TL10
and/or the electronic load EL200 to the VC100 output. Pay attention to the voltage and
power consumption of the attached loads.
• For computer-assisted operation, use the 9-pin data cable to connect the VC100 and the
FC50 via its RS485 bus. If the EL200 is already connected to the FC50 data port, you can
connect the VC100 to the EL200.

5 Technical data

Input voltage 2…10 V DC


Output voltage 12 V DC
Max. input current 10 A
Max. input power 100 W (with Vin = 10 V)
Power output max.40 W (with Vin = 5 V)
Starting battery 8 x 1.5 V cells in series, type AA
Operating ambient temperature + 5…+ 35 °C
Noise emission < 70 dB(A)
Dimensions, weight 200 x 297 x 95 mm, 1.0 kg
Transportation and storage conditions Protect against humidity

© Heliocentris – Energizing education


1 Traffic Light Module TL10 A.6

A.6 Traffic Light Module TL10

1 Use

The TL10 Traffic Light Module is a 12 V sample load for the hy-ExpertTM Instructor fuel cell
system.

2 Overview

21r (,1

2
$872

3 +

1 LED arrays
2 Mode switch
3 12V DC power input

The operation mode switch (2) has three positions. In the middle position the TL10 is
switched off. In the position “AUTO” the TL10 cycles as a traffic light. In position “ON” all
three LED arrays are lit.

3 Technical data

Input voltage 12 V DC
Capacity approx. 8 W (position "ON")
Ambient operating temperature +5…+ 35 °C
Dimensions / weight 100 x 297 x 140 mm / 0.6 kg

© Heliocentris – Energizing education


1 Control software A.7

A.7 Control software


The FC50 system including integrated microprocessor can be operated manually through its
fan power and load knobs. You can alternatively run a program to operate it in a computer-
assisted mode, in which the physical knobs don’t work. It is necessary run a program before
starting the FC50. (See section 5.4 of chapter A.3.)

1 Running an FC50 Program


To run a program and operate the system in computer-assisted mode, you must connect the
FC50 module to your computer through the RS232 interface. Start a program as follows:
• The FC50 ON/OFF switch can be ON, but the system must not be operating—that is, the
physical panel displays must not be illuminated.
• On the Windows Start menu, select
Programs > FC50 Software > FC50 Software 1.2E. The following selection menu appears:

• In the item Serial Port select the port you are using to connect the computer to the FC50
fuel cell module.
• Click to expand the “Experiments” categories if needed, then select a program in one of
the three program groups:
o User Interface: This application displays an image of the physical FC50 fuel cell
panel on your computer’s monitor. It also controls the FC50 and the EL200 modules
and displays actual data from the system. The most important parameters are
displayed in a time-dependent graph.
o Experiments: Using the programs listed in this group, you can perform experiments
and collect data. The collected data are not analyzed, but only stored in a file where
they can be used in other programs or printed out for analysis. For additional
information, refer to the Experiments Guide.
o Automated Experiments: These programs are similar to some in the Experiments
group, but they run and collect data automatically. Data points are plotted and saved
for further examination.

• Click START.
Descriptions typical of programs in the three categories are given below.

© Heliocentris – Energizing education


A.7 Control software 2

2 Control window (left side)

A common control window appears at the left side of the screen in all the FC50 programs. It
contains buttons to start and exit, system messages, names of the log file and data storage
file, and program sequence controls. The actual appearance of the control window may vary
in different programs.
The Messages text box contains requests and notes
about the operation of the system.
If an error occurs in the system, for 30 seconds the
Error Messages text box displays an error code and
a short description. See section 8 “Error messages
and causes” of chapter A.3. In addition an error
message appears on the screen. You can click the
displayed OK button after the Instructor is turned off
(automatically after 30 seconds or by turning the main
switch off). Then correct the cause of the error, restart
the FC50 and continue with the experiment. The
previously measured values are not lost.
The FC50 software can store measured data in two
ways simultaneously: as an array of selected values
particular to the experiment being performed, and as a
continual stream of logged values. The item
Experiment Data specifies the name of a text file
containing the array of selected values. If the file
already exists, new values are appended to the
existing file.
The item Log File specifies the name of a text file
containing a stream of measured values. Click Start
Logging to store values every 100 ms. This function
is particularly helpful when analyzing abrupt changes
in the load. Log files can become very large, and
should not be allowed to grow over long periods. It is
better to save several smaller files.
The item Starting Temperature specifies a stack
temperature that must be reached before some
experiments can begin to make and save
measurements.
Clicking the Start Measuring button begins the
experiment. If the stack temperature is less than the
specified minimum, the warm-up panel is displayed.
Clicking the EXIT button terminates the current
program and returns to the selection menu.
Measurements already taken are retained.

© Heliocentris – Energizing education


3 Control software A.7

3 Warm-up panel

When you click Start Measuring in the control


window, and the stack temperature is lower than
the starting temperature you specified for that
experiment, the warm-up panel appears. Use
these controls to apply increased load to the
system, raising the stack temperature. Setting a
lower-than-normal fan power will raise the
temperature more quickly. However you should
watch carefully the system values shown in the
background, particularly the stack voltage.
In some experiments a similar panel appears when it is necessary to lower the system
temperature. You can lower the temperature by increasing the fan speed.

4 User Interface program

If you selected the User Interface program, you will see on your computer screen a graphic
representation of the physical system modules. In the Messages box, you will be asked to
“press START on FC50”. At that time, ensure the FC50 main switch is ON, but the system is
not operating. Then press the green START button on the (physical) front panel.
The FC50 and EL200 can then be controlled only through the computer; the physical knobs
have no effect. The User Interface program lets you change the load and fan power, and
display and log data. The Panel Display window shows the system layout and its most
important parameters. Use the virtual Load Current and Fan Power knobs to change those
values.

© Heliocentris – Energizing education


A.7 Control software 4

In addition to the Panel Display window, a Data Display window is available. As before, you
can use the virtual Load Current and Fan Power knobs to change those values.
The Data Display shows in a graph the changing values of
• Stack voltage
• Stack current
• Stack temperature
• Fan Power
• Hydrogen flow.
Click and drag at any point on the graph to change the time segment or value range
displayed.

To terminate the program, click the EXIT button at any time. The main selection menu is
displayed.

© Heliocentris – Energizing education


5 Control software A.7

5 Experiment programs

If you selected one of the Experiment programs (see section 1), you will see instructions in
the Messages box, beginning with “Press Start on FC50”. Ensure the FC50 main switch is
ON, but the system is not operating. Then press the green START button on the (physical)
front panel.
In Experiment Data enter the name of a text file to contain the array of measured values. In
Starting Temperature enter the stack temperature that must be reached before you will
begin to save measurements. Click the Start Measuring button to begin the experiment. If
the stack temperature is less than the specified minimum, the warm-up panel is displayed.
A typical experiment, C.3.1 – Effect of Air Supply is shown below:

You should follow closely the detailed instructions for individual experiments as given in the
Experiments Guide. Specific instructions for measuring values may appear in the Messages
text box. In this example, when you click Take Pre-Set Values, the values you previously set
with the virtual knobs Load Current and Fan Power are applied. The timing Clock begins to
count. Click Store Measurement when you want to capture the current measurements. They
are stored in the file as specified in Experiment Data, and displayed in the adjacent table.
With the additional button Delete Last Row you can erase the last set of data in your data
table. The data will be deleted in the screen table but not in the file named in Experiment
Data. Some experiments offer a Curve 2 button to save a second set of measurements.
When the experiment is complete, click EXIT to terminate the program and go back to the
main selection menu. The values stored in the specified file can be analyzed.

© Heliocentris – Energizing education


A.7 Control software 6

6 Automated Experiment programs

If you selected one of the Automated Experiment programs, you will see instructions in the
Messages box, beginning with “Press Start on FC50”. Ensure the FC50 main switch is ON,
but the system is not operating. Then press the green START button on the (physical) front
panel.
In Experiment Data enter the name of a text file to contain the array of measured values. In
Starting Temperature enter the stack temperature that must be reached before you will
begin to save measurements. Click the Start Measuring button to begin the experiment. If
the stack temperature is less than the specified minimum, the warm-up panel is displayed.
After the warm-up phase, the program automatically sets operating points, takes and
displays measurements.
After the curve has been plotted, the Start Measuring button changes to Restart
Measuring. Clicking this button will repeat the measurements and plot another curve.
A typical automated experiment, C.2A – Characteristic Curve is shown below:

© Heliocentris – Energizing education


7 Control software A.7

At any time you can click EXIT to terminate the program and go back to the main selection
menu. The values stored in the specified file can be analyzed.
If an error occurs during an automated experiment the software stops the experiment. The
measurement can be restarted by clicking Restart Measuring.

7 Troubleshooting

Port naming
On some computers the list of interface ports in the “Serial Port” drop-down box may appear
different. Instead of “COM1”, the port appears as “ASRL1::INSTR". On these computers,
make your selection as follows:

To use this port … …Select this item in “Serial Port”


COM1 ASRL1::INSTR
COM2 ASRL2::INSTR
LPT1 ASRL10::INSTR

© Heliocentris – Energizing education


Hydrogen Supply Option I:
1 A.8
Connection set for compressed gas cylinders

A.8 Hydrogen Supply I:


Connection set for compressed gas cylinders

1 Use

The connection set for compressed gas cylinders lets you connect standard cylinders of
compressed hydrogen gas to the hy-ExpertTM Instructor fuel cell system, supplying the FC50
with hydrogen at a constant operating pressure of approx. 0.6 bar gauge.
Its use is only to supply the hy-ExpertTM Instructor fuel cell system with hydrogen for
educational or research purposes.

2 Overview and parts list


9 3

2
4

10

1
6

5
7

1 Two-stage regulator with pressure gauges for cylinder and delivery


pressure
2 Inlet connection fitting for compressed hydrogen cylinder
3 Solenoid valve, normally closed
4 Control cable for solenoid valve
5 Hydrogen line 1/4" for supply to the FC50
6 Quick-coupler for connection to the FC50, closed when disconnected
7 Union nut for connecting hydrogen line to the solenoid valve (3)
8 Unattached coupling plug, to mate with quick-coupler (6)
9 Spare gaskets, for connection (2) to compressed hydrogen cylinder
10 Relief valve (1 bar)
Not shown: Support for user-supplied hydrogen cylinder

© Heliocentris – Energizing education


Hydrogen Supply Option I:
A.8 2
Connection set for compressed gas cylinders

3 Basic Function

The regulator (1) reduces the pressure of the hydrogen stored in the cylinder (max. 200 bar
pressure) to a constant pressure of approx. 0.6 bar gauge necessary for the FC50. It is
equipped with inlet and outlet pressure gauges and has a relief valve (10) on the outlet side,
which opens at a gauge pressure of approx. 1 bar so that the attached components cannot
be damaged by excessive pressure. The solenoid valve (3) is normally closed and opens
only if the cable (4) is attached to the FC50 and energized. The connecting tube (5) with
quick-coupler (6) delivers hydrogen to the FC50.

4 Special safety considerations for handling compressed hydrogen cylinders

You must be aware of and follow local safety regulations for handling compressed gas
cylinders and hydrogen.
In a full compressed hydrogen cylinder, the pressure is approximately 200 bar.
Compressed hydrogen cylinders may not be stored in closed areas without appropriate
installations. For indoor storage, special gas cylinder cabinets with a permanent explosion-
proof exhaust are required. If this is not possible, cylinders must be stored outdoors. When
using the cylinders in a laboratory area, the following precautions are recommended:
• Provide good ventilation of the area.
• Smoking and open flame are forbidden.
• Avoid sources of heat near the compressed hydrogen cylinder and hydrogen piping.
• Take measures to prevent electrostatic charges.
• Use the supplied cylinder support or appropriate equipment provided by your
hydrogen supplier to prevent the cylinder from falling over.
• The cylinders must not be left unsupervised in the area.
• If no hydrogen is being used, always close the main valve on the cylinder.

In case of fire:

• Immediately report the fire and follow the fire response procedures for your laboratory.
• Evacuate and secure the area and building
• Leave escaping hydrogen gas to "burn down".

Note: Hydrogen flames are not visible!

© Heliocentris – Energizing education


Hydrogen Supply Option I:
3 A.8
Connection set for compressed gas cylinders

5 Operation directions

5.1 Installation
• Place the compressed hydrogen cylinder on the floor beside the experimental set-up, and
use the supplied cylinder support or appropriate equipment provided by your hydrogen
supplier to prevent the cylinder from falling over.
• Before attaching the regulator, in order to clear out impurities, carefully open the main
valve of the hydrogen cylinder for one second.

The cylinder is at high pressure. Do not direct escaping gas toward personnel.

• Remove protective cap from the inlet connection (2).


• Screw the regulator onto the gas cylinder, and hand-tighten (left-hand threads).
• On the initial setup:
Screw union nut (7) of the hydrogen connecting line (5) onto the output of the solenoid
valve (3) finger-tight only. Then further tighten 1/8 turn with a 9/16" wrench.
• Slowly open the main valve of the compressed hydrogen cylinder.

Do not attempt to adjust the output pressure, as the regulator is preset to


the correct 0.6 bar output pressure, and is not adjustable.

5.2 Pausing and shutting down

When you are not using hydrogen, even during rest breaks, you should close the main
valve of the compressed hydrogen cylinder.
To shut down operation, proceed as follows:
• Close the main valve of the compressed hydrogen cylinder.
• Relieve pressure in the regulator so that the pressure gauge reads zero. To do this,
disconnect the quick-coupler (6) from the FC50 and instead connect it to the unattached
coupling plug (8) allowing residual gas in the regulator to leak out.
• Remove the regulator from the hydrogen cylinder.

Pressure in the regulator must be relieved before unscrewing it, else the
gasket at the cylinder connection can be destroyed.

© Heliocentris – Energizing education


Hydrogen Supply Option I:
A.8 4
Connection set for compressed gas cylinders

6 Technical data

Regulator 2 stage, Hydrogen gas


Input connector cylinder connection,
appropriate for national standard
Max. permissible input pressure 200 bar gauge
Outlet pressure 0.6 ± 0.1 bar gauge (depending on flow),
preset
Relief valve opening pressure 1.5 bar gauge
Power to operate solenoid valve 2 W (at 12 V DC)
Hydrogen connecting tube PFA, outside diameter 1/4"
Quick-coupler Swagelok® type QM2-B
Ambient temperature operating range + 5 … +35 °C
Dimensions, without connecting cable 190 x 115 x 110 mm (LxWxH)
Weight 1.6 kg

© Heliocentris – Energizing education


Hydrogen Supply Option II:
1 A.9
Metal hydride storage, with refilling kit

A.9 Hydrogen Supply II:


Metal hydride storage, with refilling kit

1 Use

The HS150 Hydrogen Storage Module supplies the hy-ExpertTM Instructor fuel cell system
with hydrogen from a metal hydride storage canister. Using the supplied refilling kit, this
panel-mounted canister can be refilled from a standard compressed hydrogen cylinder.
Its use is only to supply the hy-ExpertTM Instructor fuel cell system with hydrogen for
educational or research purposes.

2 Overview and parts list

1
8

2 7

3 6

5
4

1 Single-stage regulator with pressure gauges


2 Relief valve (1 bar)
3 Connecting tube 1/4" with coupler for connecting to metal hydride storage
canister
4 Shut off valve for metal hydride storage canister
5 Metal hydride storage canister with shut off valve and quick-coupler
6 Mounting plate with screw-down clamps for storage canister
7 Hydrogen line 1/8" with quick-coupler for supply to the FC50
8 Solenoid valve, normally closed
9 Control cable for solenoid valve

© Heliocentris – Energizing education


Hydrogen Supply Option II:
A.9 2
Metal hydride storage, with refilling kit

3 Basic function

The storage canister (5) is filled with a special metal hydride alloy. It has a shut-off valve (4)
and a gas outlet with quick-coupler.
The pressure in the storage canister is indicated on the gauge of the regulator (1). The
regulator reduces the storage pressure to a set operating pressure of approximately 0.6 bar
gauge. It has a relief valve (9), which opens if the outlet pressure exceeds 1.4 bar, so that
the attached components cannot be damaged by excessive pressure. The solenoid valve (8)
is normally closed and opens only if the cable (9) is attached at the operating FC50. The
connecting line with quick-coupler (7) delivers hydrogen to the fuel cell of the FC50.
Using regulator (10) the metal hydride storage can be re-filled from commercial compressed
hydrogen cylinders.
Metal hydride storage is based on the chemical reaction of hydrogen with certain metal alloys
which are able to chemically bind hydrogen in a reversible reaction. The absorption of
hydrogen is an exothermic process; the hydrogen delivery is an endothermic process. Both
procedures are influenced by the thermodynamic properties of the chemical reactions
between hydrogen and the respective metal alloys. The hydrogen pressure in the storage
canister mainly depends on the temperature of the metal alloy.

4 Special safety considerations for metal hydride storage canisters

The storage canister is equipped with a temperature and pressure-sensitive relief valve. This
valve provides pressure release of the canister in case of unexpected extreme operation or
storage conditions e.g. open fire. The release conditions of the valve are specified in section
7 “Technical Data”. The storage canister must be installed and stored in a position such
that no danger results from a possible opening of the relief valve. Do not block the
relief valve.
The connections of the storage system must be regularly examined for tightness. The
storage canister must be checked regularly for damage, deformation, etc. If irregularities
are found, immediately stop using the storage system and inform Heliocentris.
In case of leakage or canister damage, hydrogen may be released. Due to the nature of
metal hydrides, only a small portion of the stored hydrogen will be released spontaneously.
The canister temperature will decrease and further hydrogen release will occur at a fairly low
rate. Therefore it is recommended to put the leaking canister in a well ventilated place (if
possible outside of the building) until the canister is completely empty. During this time the
canister should be on a fire-proof base away from any sources of ignition. The area should
be marked in a suitable way. Only the manufacturer can repair a damaged storage
canister.

© Heliocentris – Energizing education


Hydrogen Supply Option II:
3 A.9
Metal hydride storage, with refilling kit

Source of Possible consequences Preventive measures


danger
Storage canister Danger of fire and ignition • Do not open the canister. Do not
contains when opening the canister remove the valve
Hydrogen • Store the canister in a well-
ventilated place
• Keep away from sources of ignition
• Take precautions against
electrostatic charge
• No open fire
• No smoking

Storage canister Danger of fire when opening • Do not open the canister. Do not
contains the canister remove the valve
pyrophoric / self • In case of fire use class D powder
heating metal extinguisher; do not use carbon
powder dioxide extinguisher or water

Canister is under Unauthorized excess • Do not expose to sunlight; protect


pressure. pressure the canister from temperatures
Pressure rises above 50°C
with increasing • Do not heat a filled storage canister
temperature. without releasing hydrogen at the
same time
• The maximum working pressure of
the canister must not be exceeded
at any time (see technical data)

5 In case of fire
Immediately inform the fire department
Hydrogen burning: Note: Hydrogen flames are not visible!
• Evacuate and secure the area and building
• Leave escaping hydrogen gas to "burn down".
Metal hydride powder burning:
• Evacuate and secure the area and building
• Suffocate fires with class D fire extinguisher or dry sand
• Do not use water or CO2 extinguishers
• If smoldering metal hydride powder cannot ignite adjacent materials, it may be best to
leave the hydride burning.

© Heliocentris – Energizing education


Hydrogen Supply Option II:
A.9 4
Metal hydride storage, with refilling kit

Operation directions

5.1 Installation of the metal hydride storage canister on its panel

• Loosen the knurled nuts of the storage canister mounting (6) a few turns.
• From the right side, slide the filled metal hydride storage canister into the mounting and
align it.
• Connect the tube (3) to the quick-coupler of the storage canister (5).
• Align the canister and evenly tighten the knurled nuts of the storage mounting plate (6)
finger-tight only.
• Connect the hydrogen connecting tube (7) to the quick-coupler and the control cable for
the solenoid valve to the FC50.

When the two sides of the quick-coupler are connected and under pressure
do not rotate them!

5.2 Using hydrogen from the metal hydride storage canister


After successful installation and having made all connections the shut-off valve (4) of the
storage canister needs to be opened. When the FC50 fuel cell system has been started as
described in 4.5 and the system is in operation, hydrogen flows from the storage canister (5)
through the regulator (1) and the solenoid valve (8) into the fuel cell system.

The fuel cell system must be operated with a pressure of 0.6 ± 0.1 bar gauge.
The setting of the regulator on the mounting panel is fixed and must not be
changed.

While the storage canister is delivering hydrogen (discharging), the canister temperature
decreases and the pressure in the canister decreases correspondingly. To keep the
hydrogen pressure constant, the storage canister needs to absorb heat from the
environment. Normal air circulation is generally enough. Take care that while operating the
fuel cell, the storage canister pressure does not decrease below 1 bar gauge. If it does,
reduce the load on the fuel cell until the storage canister again warms to room temperature
and shows higher pressure.
If the pressure within the storage canister falls below 1.0 bar gauge while the canister is at
room temperature, the storage canister needs to be refilled.
You should keep some pressure in the storage canister at all times. If the canister has little or
no pressure at a particular temperature, and the canister becomes further cooled, a negative
pressure can develop, sucking air into the canister through the open valve.

5.3 Pausing and shutting down

When you are not using hydrogen, and the FC50 is switched off, you should
close the shut-off valve (4) of the metal hydride storage canister. Otherwise
over time pressure may rise at the regulator so that the relief valve can open
and empty the canister.

© Heliocentris – Energizing education


Hydrogen Supply Option II:
5 A.9
Metal hydride storage, with refilling kit

6 Technical data

Storage Canister
Intended gas specification Dry Hydrogen, purity 5.0 or higher
Storage capacity: Max. 225 standard liters
• if charging @ 10 bar gauge approx. 150 standard liters
Gas connection Quick-coupler Parker, type Q4CY
Discharge operation:
• Discharging pressure Approx. 8 bar gauge @ 20°C (initially higher)
• Max. canister temperature +50 °C
Charge operation:
• recommended charging pressure 10 bar gauge @ +20 °C
• Max. charging pressure 17 bar gauge
• Allowed canister temperature +15 ... +30 °C
Max. storage temperature +50 °C
Opening conditions of relief valve P ≈ 82 bar / T ≈ +88 °C
Dimensions (∅ x length) 64 mm x 305 mm
Weight 2.2 kg

Module HS150
Regulator Single stage, Hydrogen gas
Max. allowed input pressure 19 bar gauge @ +20 °C
Delivery pressure 0.7 ± 0.1 bar gauge (flow depending), preset
Relief valve opening pressure 1.5 bar gauge
Connection to storage canister Parker quick-coupler, type Q4VY
Hydrogen connecting tube PFA, outside diameter 1/8"
Connection to fuel cell system Swagelok® quick-coupler, Type QM2-B
Power consumption single solenoid 2 W @ 12 V DC
valve
Recommended operating temp. + 5 … +35 °C
Dimensions (w x h x d) 400 mm x 297 mm x 95 mm
Weight (without storage canister) 1.95 kg

© Heliocentris – Energizing education


Hydrogen Supply Option III:
1 A.10
Hydrogen generator with metal hydride storage

A.10 Hydrogen Supply Option III:


Hydrogen generator with metal hydride storage

1 Use

A hydrogen generator together with HS150 Hydrogen Storage Module supplies the hy-
ExpertTM Instructor fuel cell system with hydrogen. The panel-mounted metal hydride storage
canister stores gaseous hydrogen produced in the generator. Hydrogen is supplied to the
fuel cell system at the required operating conditions (see technical data).
Its use is only to supply the hy-ExpertTM Instructor fuel cell system with hydrogen for
educational or research purposes.

2 Special safety considerations for the hydrogen generator

The hydrogen generator produces only the amount of hydrogen which will later be used in
the fuel cell system. Thus the quantity of combustible gas is kept to a minimum. To lessen
the risk of a hydrogen leakage, it is however necessary to regularly check the tightness of all
hydrogen pipes and connections.
In addition to hydrogen, the hydrogen generator also produces oxygen. The oxygen is
released with the equipment cooling air into the environment. The hydrogen generator may
only by used in an environment that has sufficient air circulation, so that the released oxygen
can dissipate.
The power switch and connection cord are at the back of the equipment. They must be freely
accessible at all times during operation.

3 Overview, scope of supply and operation

Please refer to the separate operating instructions provided with the hydrogen generator and
HS150 Hydrogen Storage Module.

© Heliocentris – Energizing education


1 Learning Objectives B.1

General learning objectives

The Experiments Guide teaches the basic operation of fuel cell systems, including:
• Starting up a fuel cell system
• Behavior of fuel cell systems in theory and practice
• Evaluating the characteristics
• Analyzing and designing components of a fuel cell system
• Handling hydrogen safely

Specific learning objectives

Experiments in the guide support the following learning objectives.

C.1 The basic functions of the fuel cell system

• Working with technical manuals


• Structure and safe handling of electrical devices and the hydrogen supply
• Learning the individual components of the fuel cell system
• Starting in the various operating modes
• Working with the control software
• Recognizing and eliminating errors
• Setting operating points and reading measured values
• Shutting down the fuel cell system

C.2 The characteristic curve of a fuel cell

• Recording measured values


• Drawing and evaluating the voltage-current-curve and the power-current-curve
• Comparing with the theoretical behavior of fuel cells
• Interrelation between the different physical values of a fuel cell
• Designing a fuel cell

© Heliocentris – Energizing education


2 Learning Objectives B.1

C.3 Parameters influencing the characteristic curve

• Investigating the effects of reduced air supply on the V-I curve


• Applying Faraday’s laws
• Investigating the effects of increased internal resistance on the V-I curve
• Developing an equivalent circuit diagram
• Investigating the effects of the fuel cell temperature on the V-I curve
• Exploring possible optimization, based on prior observations

C.4 Determination of the hydrogen current curve

• Determining the hydrogen-current relation


• Developing the relationship between hydrogen flow rate and increased current
• Applying Faraday’s laws
• Calculating hydrogen consumption related to current and number of cells

C.5 Efficiency of the fuel cell stack

• Determining the stack efficiency by power balance


• Comparing stack efficiency and stack power
• Effect of stack efficiency in practical applications
• Determining the stack efficiency by current and voltage efficiency
• Determining and analyzing the efficiency losses
• Thermodynamic view of the different reference voltages

C.6 Set-up of a fuel cell power supply

• Setting up and starting a grid-independent power supply


• Using the traffic light module "TL10" acting as a typical consumer
• Determining power consumption, stack power and available power
• Analyzing the parasitic load
• Determining losses and optimization possibilities

© Heliocentris – Energizing education


3 Learning Objectives B.1

C.7 Efficiency of a fuel cell power supply

• Determining and comparing overall efficiency, system efficiency and stack efficiency
• Determining the optimum operating range for the fuel cell
• Influence of the parasitic load on the overall efficiency

C.8 Fuel cell application I: Remote traffic light

• Using the traffic light module to determine the fuel requirement of a system
• Evaluating the data using a spreadsheet program
• Sizing and designing a hydrogen storage system
• Comparing different hydrogen storage systems with batteries

C.9 Fuel cell application II: Fuel cell car

• Evaluating the use of fuel cells in motor vehicles


• Using load profiles
• Evaluating the data using a spreadsheet program
• Determining the efficiencies of different operating ranges
• Linking load profiles to practical applications
• Comparing a fuel cell with a combustion engine
• Using Carnot and Gibbs efficiency
• Calculating volumetric and gravimetric power densities
• Comparing different hydrogen storage systems with gasoline

© Heliocentris – Energizing education


1 Teaching references and methodology B.2

Hydrogen fuel cells will play a significant role in future power supplies. The areas of applica-
tion will include stationary power such as for households, mobile power for transportation,
and power supplies for portable electronic devices. Becoming acquainted with fuel cell tech-
nology and exploring its various areas of application are indispensable for training in the
fields of electric power supplies, electric propulsion technology, electronics, environmental
technology, and electrochemistry.
Using this experiment guide, students can acquire basic and extended knowledge about fuel
cell technology. The guide also examines various areas of practical application, and sug-
gests further inquiry. The included technical manuals contain both operating instructions and
detailed information about the operating parameters, providing an opportunity for problem-
oriented student tasks.
The experiments are arranged below to offer suggestions for practical courses. Such courses
could offer learning at a particular level or in a particular field of activity. Depending on the
desired learning objective, some experiments can be done using only a part of the given pro-
cedure.

Getting to know the system components:

• C.1 The basic functions of the fuel cell system

Basic knowledge about the design and function of fuel cells:

• C.2 The characteristic curve of a fuel cell


• C.4 Determination of the hydrogen current curve
• C.5 Efficiency of the fuel cell stack (up to and including section 4)

Basic knowledge about the structure of a fuel cell system:


(only for package "Instructor Off-Grid")
• C.6 Set-up of a fuel cell power supply

Extended knowledge about the behavior of fuel cells:

• C.3 Parameters influencing the characteristic curve


• C.5 Efficiency of the fuel cell stack

© Heliocentris – Energizing education


2 Teaching references and methodology B.2

Extended knowledge and applications of fuel cell systems:


(only for " Instructor Off-Grid " package)

• C.7 Efficiency of a fuel cell power supply


• C.8 Fuel cell application I: Remote traffic light
• C.9 Fuel cell application II: Fuel cell car

Electrotechnical emphasis:

• C.2 The characteristic curve of a fuel cell


• C.3 Parameters influencing the characteristic curve (up to and including section 4)
• C.5 Efficiency of the fuel cell stack
• C.6 Set-up of a fuel cell power supply
• C.7 Efficiency of a fuel cell power supply
• C.8 Fuel cell application I: Remote traffic light

Thermodynamic emphasis:

• C.2 The characteristic curve of a fuel cell


• C.3 Parameters influencing the characteristic curve
• C.4 Determination of the hydrogen current curve
• C.5 Efficiency of the fuel cell stack
• C.9 Fuel cell application II: Fuel cell car

© Heliocentris – Energizing education


1 Recommended web sites B.3

Large development potentials still exist in fuel cell technology as well as hydrogen production
and storage. Because of the rapid rate of change in these areas, in order to remain well-
informed it is recommended that you use the Internet as an ongoing source of information.
The following web sites are recommended sources about fuel cells and hydrogen, conven-
iently arranged.
These same links are available in HTML format on the included CD.

Design and function of fuel cells:


• U.S. Department of Energy, Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy
www.eere.energy.gov/RE/hydrogen_fuel_cells.html
• Ballard Power Systems
www.ballard.com/be_informed/fuel_cell_technology/how_the_technology_works
• Japan Hydrogen & Fuel Cell Demonstration Project
www.jhfc.jp/e/fc/fc_struct.html
• BEWAG: Fuel Cell Innovation Park
www.innovation-brennstoffzelle.de/e/index.html
• Initiative Brennstoffzelle
www.initiative-brennstoffzelle.de/en/live/start/8.html

Generation, storage and use of hydrogen:


• U.S. Department of Energy, Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy
www.eere.energy.gov/RE/hydrogen_production.html
www.eere.energy.gov/RE/hydrogen_transport.html
• Shell Hydrogen
www.shell.com/home/Framework?siteId=hydrogen-en
• The European Thematic Network on Hydrogen
www.hynet.info/hydrogen_e/index00.html
• BEWAG: Fuel Cell Innovation Park
www.innovation-brennstoffzelle.de/e/index.html
• Federal Environmental Agency of Germany
www.umweltbundesamt.de/uba-info-daten-e/daten-e/brennstoffzelle.htm

Experiments in fuel cell technology:


• U.S. Department of Energy, Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy
www.eere.energy.gov/education
• American Hydrogen Association
www.clean-air.org

© Heliocentris – Energizing education


2 Recommended web sites B.3

Fuel cell and hydrogen associations:

• European Hydrogen and Fuel Cells Technology Platform


www.hfpeurope.org
• European Hydrogen Association
www.h2euro.org
• The European Thematic Network on Hydrogen
www.hynet.info
• Canadian Hydrogen Association
www.h2.ca
• National Hydrogen Association NHA
www.hydrogenus.com
• American Hydrogen Association
www.clean-air.org
• China Association for Hydrogen Energy
www.chinahydrogen.org/
• Engineering Advancement Association of Japan
www.enaa.or.jp/EN/index.html
• The National Hydrogen Association of Australia
www.hydrogen.org.au

Information about fuel cell vehicles:

• H2 Cars
http://www.h2cars.de
• California Fuel Cell Partnership
www.fuelcellpartnership.org
• Japan Hydrogen & Fuel Cell Demonstration Project
www.jhfc.jp/e/index.html

Glossary about fuel cells and hydrogen:


• Fuel Cell Industry Report
www.sanewsletters.com/fcir/glossary1.asp
• hyWeb
http://www.hyweb.de

Fuel cell and hydrogen news:


• The Hydrogen & Fuel Cell Letter
www.hfcletter.com/
• Fuel Cell Industry Report
www.fcellreport.com
• Fuel Cell Magazine
www.fuelcell-magazine.com/fc_newsletter_current.htm

© Heliocentris – Energizing education


1 References for Further Reading B.4

James Larminie, Andrew Dicks


Fuel Cell Systems Explained
John Wiley & Sons
ISBN: 047084857X

Gregor Hoogers (Editor)


Fuel Cell Technology Handbook 
CRC Press
ISBN: 0849308771

Tom Koppel
Powering the Future: The Ballard Fuel Cell and the Race to Change the World
John Wiley & Sons
ISBN: 0471644218

Rebecca L. Busby
Hydrogen And Fuel Cells: A Comprehensive Guide
Pennwell Books
ISBN: 1593700431

Jeremy Rifkin
The Hydrogen Economy
Tarcher
ISBN: 1585422541

John S. Rigden
Hydrogen: The Essential Element
Harvard University Press
ISBN: 0674012526

Ulrich Stimming, L. G. S. De Haart, J. Meusinger


Fuel Cell Systems: Pemfc for Mobile and Sofc for Stationary Application
Wiley-VCH Verlag GmbH
ISBN: 3527297952

R.H. Thring
Fuel Cells for Automotive Applications
ASME Press
ISBN: 0791802124

Richard E. Sonntag, Claus Borgnakke, Gordon J. Van Wylen


Fundamentals of Thermodynamics
Wiley
ISBN: 0471152323

© Heliocentris – Energizing education


Solutions 1 The basic functions of the fuel cell system C.1

Required devices:

Description Item
I 630
Hydrogen supply (alternates) II 642
III 652
Fuel cell FC50 610
Electronic load EL200 620
Voltage converter VC100 (optional) 621
Traffic light TL10 (optional) 622

Arrange the devices as in the following diagram:

Fuel cell
Cell
FC50
Hydrogen supply

Traffic Voltage Converter


Spannungswandler Electronic Load
Elektronische Last
light
Light VC100 EL200
TL10 (optional)
(optional)

© Heliocentris - Energizing education


Solutions 2 The basic functions of the fuel cell system C.1

Task:

Learn about the FC50 Fuel Cell System and its components by stepping through their
operation. Notice how the system reports operation errors and learn how to correct them.

Execution:

Note: This procedure shows you the operating modes of the individual components and later
helps you to easily recognize and correct errors. You should follow the sequence step by
step as indicated here. If you notice a mistake or omission in the procedure steps, you
should nevertheless do the steps as indicated in order to learn the behavior of the system in
the event of an error.
To solve the following problems and answer the questions it will be necessary to refer to the
Component Descriptions of the devices used.

1 Installation and start-up of FC50, EL200 and hydrogen supply:


When setting up and starting the equipment, follow the instructions provided in
Part A: Component Descriptions for the individual components, especially the
safety instructions.
During experiments, ensure the area has adequate ventilation and keep away
from sources of ignition.
1.1 Place the modules into the mounting frame arranged as shown in the above illustration.
Use the AC power cord to connect the EL200 Electronic Load to the source of AC
power. (Connection is on the right side behind the front panel.) Ensure the toggle
switch on the EL200 front panel is OFF.
Use two short test leads to connect the FC50 with the EL200, paying attention to the
polarity.
1.2 On the FC50, set the main (toggle) switch to ON and press the START button.
Which problem occurs and how can it be corrected?
Problem: The FC50 shows no reaction and does not start.
Solution: Attach the AC power pack to the 12V= DC Input socket, to supply power to its
control board.

© Heliocentris - Energizing education


Solutions 3 The basic functions of the fuel cell system C.1

1.3 After you have corrected the problem, press the START button again.
Which problem now occurs and how can it be corrected? Use the error list in A.3 Fuel
Cell Module FC50 to explain.
Problem: The FC50 reacts, but immediately displays error Er01 in the ‘H2 flow' window.
Solution: On the “Error messages” list (see A.3 Fuel Cell Module FC50) the error description
is: 'hydrogen is missing'. To correct this problem, put the hydrogen supply you are
using into operation, following the appropriate instructions in section A.8 – A.10. Pay
particular attention to the correct assembly of the quick-coupler at the FC50 and to
connecting the 9-pin plug of the relief valve with the FC50 port 'H2 SUPPLY'.

1.4 Press the START button again. For approx.10 seconds a system test is performed. If
this is successful, the displays are illuminated. The FC50 is now ready for use.
1.5 Turn the main power switch located behind the EL200 front panel on. The ‘Power’
display is illuminated.
Turn the 10-turn potentiometer, in order to apply a load current.
What does this show?
Problem: Both on the ’CURRENT’ display on the FC50 and ’Power’ on the EL200 indicates no
load current and no power.
Solution: The AC voltage supply of the EL200 is switched on; however the load is not applied.
The toggle switch on the front panel must be switched to ’ON’. As an indication, the
green operating-LED is lit when the EL200 is active.

1.6 The load current previously set on the potentiometer is drawn from the Fuel cell and
can be read on the appropriate display. The power Pload absorbed by the electronic
load is shown in the EL200 display window.
1.7 Cooling fans supply air necessary for the operation of the fuel cell. The speed of the
fans can be adjusted to suit the load current automatically or manually. Use the knob
beside the display ' Fan Power ', to set a fan power between 5 % and 100 %.
Try setting different operating points on the EL200 and try to set an appropriate fan
power. Watch how the system reacts when you change these settings.

© Heliocentris - Energizing education


Solutions 4 The basic functions of the fuel cell system C.1

1.8 Now apply a load current of 9 A and reduce the fan power slowly to 5 %. Watch the
stack voltage display.
What did you observe? Use the “Error messages” list (see A.3 Fuel Cell Module FC50)
in order to explain why the FC50 shut off.
Problem: After reducing the fan power, the voltage falls. The FC50 switches off automatically
and announces Er02.
Solution: In the “Error messages” list see the error description: “Voltage of the fuel cell stack
too low.”
The FC50 has a protection circuit which automatically switches the system off when
the voltage falls below 4 V thereby protecting the fuel cell from damage.
Note: See a detailed explanation of the problem in experiment C.3 "Parameters
influencing the characteristic curve".

1.9 Switch the FC50 off. Ensure that the potentiometer of the EL200 is set to zero and the
toggle switch on the front panel is OFF.
1.10 If you are not making further measurements with the system, proceed to shut down
and switch off the system as follows:
• On the EL200, turn the potentiometer to zero, set the toggle switch to OFF, and turn
off the main power switch behind the front panel.
• On the FC50, turn the fan control knob to AUTO and turn the main switch OFF.
• Follow the correct procedure to shut down your hydrogen supply, as described in
sections A.8, A.9 or A.10 as appropriate.
• Remove the hydrogen supply from the FC50 by opening the quick-coupler.

2 Installation and start-up of COMPUTER-SUPPORTED Operations


To operate the FC50 in the COMPUTER-SUPPORTED mode, it is necessary to
have a computer with RS232 interface on which you have installed the provided
software. Refer to operation of the software in the section A.7 "Control
Software".
2.1 Connect the port ’ RS232 ’ of the FC50 to the appropriate interface on your computer
using the provided long 9-pin data cable.
Start the program ’FC50 software’ on your computer selecting the menu option ’user
Interface’ and click the ’START’ button. Follow the instructions in the reporting window
of the control software.

© Heliocentris - Energizing education


Solutions 5 The basic functions of the fuel cell system C.1

2.2 When you are requested from the software, switch on the FC50 and start it.
Which problem occurs and how can it be corrected?
Problem: Both FC50 and the software announce Er10 (Cooling fan control)
Solution: Before starting the FC50 the fan control must be set to ’ AUTO’.
Follow the instructions in the error message: Switch the FC50 off, correct the error
by placing the fan power on ’ AUTO ’ and start the FC50 again. Afterwards you can
acknowledge the error message with the "Ok" Button and continue working.

2.3 The measured values of the FC50 are now shown on both the module and on your
computer. But you can adjust the fan power only through the software.
2.4 Also, setting the load current is only possible through the software. Set a value of
Iload = 2 A
Why doesn’t the EL200 react?
Problem: The EL200 does not react to computer-set values.
Solution: Communication between EL200 and FC50 is made through the RS485 bus.
Therefore it is necessary to connect the two components with the provided short 9-
pin cable. Also you must ensure that both the toggle switch on the front panel of the
EL200 and the switch in the software are in the 'ON’ position.

2.5 In the ’user Interface’ of the FC50 software click the label ’data display’. Observe the
behavior of the different fuel cell parameters when you change the load current.
2.6 When you are through with the system, proceed to shut down and switch off the
system as follows:
• Terminate the FC50 software. The FC50 sees the interruption of communication
and displays an error.
• Turn the potentiometer of the EL200 to zero, set the toggle switch to OFF and
switch off the main switch behind the front panel.
• Turn the knob for the fan power to AUTO and turn the FC50 main switch OFF.
• Put the hydrogen supply out of operation correctly.
• Remove the hydrogen inlet to the FC50 by disconnecting the quick-coupler.

© Heliocentris - Energizing education


Solutions 6 The basic functions of the fuel cell system C.1

3 Installation and start-up of VC100 and TL10 (optional)


This part can only be performed if the voltage converter VC100 and the traffic light
TL10 is available. It does not matter if the FC50 is operating in COMPUTER-
SUPPORTED mode or in manual mode.
Follow the safety instructions provided in section A: Component Descriptions
for the individual components.
3.1 In the following the fuel cell system is self-powered. Switch the FC50 off and remove
the AC power pack. Instead connect the 12 V DC input of the FC50 to the “Parasitic
Load” output of the VC100 using the provided 3-pin cable.
From the “Available Power” output of the VC100, the traffic light TL10 or other loads
can be supplied.
Use the provided short 9-pin RS485 data cable to connect the VC100 to the unused
interface port of the EL200, to provide communication in the COMPUTER-
SUPPORTED mode.
Start the FC50. Which error occurs?
Problem: The FC50 starts, but after the system test announces: Er06 (No voltage supply to
FC50).
Solution: The voltage input of the VC100 must be attached at the output of the FC50. During
the system test the FC50 is supplied by the batteries inside the VC100. Afterwards
the supply is switched to the voltage converter, which is supplied by the fuel cell. If
this connection between output of the FC50 and input of the VC100 is missing, the
FC50 loses power and switches off.
Note: See a detailed explanation of the problem in experiment C.6 "Structure of a
network-independent current supply".

3.2 Restart the FC50 and wait for the system test to complete. In the VC100 display
‘parasitic load' see the power consumed by the FC50. In the display 'available power'
see the power consumed by the attached load. Briefly try out the traffic light TL10 and
observe the ‘available power’ display:
At switch position ON all lamps shine; at position AUTO, a normal traffic light sequence
occurs. In the middle position the device is off.

© Heliocentris - Energizing education


Solutions 7 The basic functions of the fuel cell system C.1

3.3 The electronic load EL200 can be operated in parallel with the traffic light. Gradually
increase the load current of the fuel cell using the EL200 potentiometer. Try to reach
the maximum EL200 load current.
Explain why the FC50 switches off. What has to be considered when restarting?
Problem: The FC50 automatically turns off and announces Er04 (Load current too high).
Solution: The load current reached a value of 10.5 A. In order to protect the fuel cell, the
system switches off at this value. To restart, set the potentiometer of the EL200 to
zero.
Note: See a detailed explanation of the problem in experiment C.6 "Structure of a
network-independent current supply".

3.4 When you are through with the system, proceed to shut down and switch off the
system as follows:
• Turn the potentiometer of the EL200 to zero, set the toggle switch to OFF and
switch off the main switch behind the front panel.
• Turn the knob for the fan power to AUTO and turn the FC50 main switch OFF.
• Put the hydrogen supply out of operation correctly.
• Remove the hydrogen inlet to the FC50 by disconnecting the quick-coupler.

4 Summary
Considering the problems and the associated error messages again, look at the error
list in section A.3 Fuel Cell Module FC50. Explain why it is useful to divide the errors
into two groups: start-up errors and operating errors. Give at least one example of each
group.
Start-up errors are recognized by the FC50 during the system test. This group includes errors in
the structure, the previous condition or in the start-up sequence. For example the error
message Er01 (Hydrogen is missing) appears. The cause of the error is an incorrect installation
of the hydrogen supply or an empty hydrogen storage device. To remedy the error activate the
hydrogen supply, referring to the appropriate section in Component Descriptions or refill your
hydrogen storage.
In operating errors, parameters reach certain limit values during operation. For example the
error message Er03 (Temperature of the fuel cell stack too high) appears. The reason for this
error is a stack temperature exceeding 50 °C. The FC50 will not restart until the stack
temperature falls below 45 °C. To remedy the error, increase the fan power to cool the fuel cell
stack.

© Heliocentris - Energizing education


Solutions 1 The characteristic curve of a fuel cell C.2

Required devices:

Description Item
I 630
Hydrogen supply (alternates) II 642
III 652
Fuel cell FC50 610
Electronic load EL200 620

Arrange the devices as in the following diagram:

Fuel Cell
FC50

Hydrogen supply

Electronic Load
EL200

© Heliocentris - Energizing education


Solutions 2 The characteristic curve of a fuel cell C.2

Task:

In this experiment we determine the voltage-current characteristic of a fuel cell and plot a
power-current diagram. This provides a basic knowledge of the behavior of a fuel cell. The
results can be used to size and design fuel cell stacks.

Execution:

1 Set-up
When setting up and starting the equipment, follow the instructions provided in
section A: Component Descriptions for the individual components, especially
the safety instructions.
During experiments, ensure the area has adequate ventilation and keep away
from sources of ignition.
1.1 Connect the AC power pack cable to the 12V= DC power input on the FC50 Fuel Cell.
Connect the other end of the AC power pack to a source of AC power.
On the front panel of the EL200 Electronic Load ensure the toggle switch is OFF. Use
the AC power cord to connect the EL200 to a source of AC power; then turn on the
main power switch located behind the EL200 front panel.
1.2 Use two short test leads to connect the FC50 with the EL200, paying attention to the
polarity.
1.3 Attach the hydrogen supply quick-coupler to the FC50. Connect the 9-pin plug of the
hydrogen supply’s solenoid valve to the H2 SUPPLY connector on the FC50.
1.4 If you want to use the provided software program to help perform the experiment, make
the appropriate connections now. You will find instructions in section A.3 Fuel Cell
Module FC50 under the heading “Start-up” and in section A.7 Control Software.

© Heliocentris - Energizing education


Solutions 3 The characteristic curve of a fuel cell C.2

2 Start-up
Start each component as directed.
2.1 Hydrogen supply:
To start your hydrogen supply, refer to sections A.8, A.9 or A.10 of the
Component Descriptions, as appropriate for the supply you are using.
2.2 Electronic load EL200:
Ensure the 10-turn potentiometer is set to zero. Then turn ON the toggle switch on the
front panel.
2.3 FC50 software:
If you want to use the provided software program to assist with the experiment, start
the FC50 software on your PC and select experiment C.2. Wait until the program
requests you to press the FC50 START button. You will find instructions in section A.3
Fuel Cell Module FC50 under the heading “Start-up” and in section A.7 Control
Software.
2.4 Fuel cell FC50:
Ensure the fan control knob is at AUTO. Set the main switch to ON and press the
START button. After completing a system test, the green OPERATION light comes on
and the FC50 is ready for use. If an error occurs, the error code will appear in the
H2 Flow display. You will find descriptions of the errors in section A.3 Fuel Cell Module
FC50 under the heading “Error Messages and Causes”.

© Heliocentris - Energizing education


Solutions 4 The characteristic curve of a fuel cell C.2

3 Data acquisition
3.1 For these measurements, the fuel cell should be at a temperature of 40 °C. You can
reach this temperature by loading the fuel cell for a few minutes with a current of
approximately 5 A. Using the potentiometer of the EL200, increase the load current
until the Current display on the FC50 shows approximately 5 amperes. To further
cause stack temperature to rise, turn the fan control knob on the FC50 so the Fan
Power display indicates 10%.
After the temperature reaches 40 °C, ensure the load potentiometer is turned back to
zero and set fan control knob to AUTO.
3.2 Using the EL200 potentiometer, set in turn each load current listed in the following
table. After waiting at least 15 seconds at each point, record the measured values of
stack current Istack and stack voltage Vstack in the table. When measuring the first point
(no-load operation) turn the toggle switch on the EL200 to OFF to ensure that there is
no load on the fuel cell.

Nominal
Measured values Calculated
current
Istack (A) Istack (A) Vstack (V) Pstack (W)
0.0 0.00 8.99 0.00
0.2 0.20 8.30 1.66
0.5 0.52 7.92 4.12
1.0 1.00 7.62 7.62
1.5 1.52 7.39 11.23
2.0 2.00 7.17 14.34
3.0 3.01 6.78 20.41
5.0 5.01 6.12 30.66
7.0 7.00 5.71 39.97
10.0 10.00 5.12 51.20
Because of experimental technique and prior condition of the fuel cell, students’ measured
values may differ from the example values given here.

3.3 If you are not making further measurements with the system, proceed to shut down
and switch off the system as follows:
• On the EL200, turn the potentiometer to zero, set the toggle switch to OFF, and turn
off the main power switch behind the front panel.
• On the FC50, turn the fan control knob to AUTO and turn the main switch OFF.
• Follow the correct procedure to shut down your hydrogen supply, as described in
sections A.8, A.9 or A.10 as appropriate.
• Remove the hydrogen supply from the FC50 by opening the quick-coupler.

© Heliocentris - Energizing education


Solutions 5 The characteristic curve of a fuel cell C.2

4 Data interpretation

4.1 Draw the fuel cell voltage-current relation Vstack = f (Istack) and describe the characteristic
curve.

Voltage-Current Characteristic
10
9
8
Stack Voltage Vstack (V)

7
6
5
4
3
2
1
0
0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

Current Istack (A)


The characteristic curve of the fuel cell shows an exponential relation between 0 A and 2 A. As
the current rises further the relationship between current and voltage becomes linear.

© Heliocentris - Energizing education


Solutions 6 The characteristic curve of a fuel cell C.2

4.2 How do you explain the characteristic curve?


This experiment shows that at small (near zero) load currents the voltage falls exponentially
with rising current. Here catalytic procedures at the electrodes determine the voltage curve.
This exponential process is characteristic of all electro-chemical processes, for example
batteries. At middle to large currents the Ohmic internal resistance of the fuel cell determines
the characteristic. The voltage depends on the load current in a linear relationship, according to
Ohm’s law.
Note: To get the entire characteristic curve of the fuel cell including the diffusion part
please perform experiment C.3 “Parameters Influencing the Characteristic Curve”.

4.3 Also draw the fuel cell power-current relation Pstack = f (Istack). Use the calculated
electrical power from table 3.2. Then considering the characteristic curve, make a
statement about the maximum power of the fuel cell.

Power-Current Characteristic
60

50

40
Power Pstack (W)

30

20

10

0
0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

Current Istack (A)


At a current of 10 A the fuel cell produces approximately 50 W. If we extrapolate the
characteristic for larger currents, we see that the maximum power of the fuel cell lies outside the
examined range. The flattening suggests a maximum of 60 W to 65 W. However with the given
equipment, this point cannot be determined experimentally.

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Solutions 7 The characteristic curve of a fuel cell C.2

4.4 For the power of fuel cell stacks two parameters are significant: the number of cells
and the current density (in A/cm2). From the results of your measurement of the stack
at a load current of 10 A, determine the voltage and the current density of an individual
cell. Note: The active surface of these cells (surface of the electrodes) is 25 cm2.
Assuming these values are transferable to larger fuel cells, use your results to specify
two fuel cell stacks:
• a 1 kW el rated stack with a working voltage Vstack = 24 V
• a 5 kW el rated stack with a working voltage Vstack = 42 V
For both stacks give the following values: cell current, number of cells and active cell
surface.
The experimental fuel cell stack has a voltage of 5 V. As there are 10 cells in the stack, each
2
cell has a voltage of 0.5 V. The current density per cell is 0.4 A/cm at a current of 10 A. With
these parameters the two stacks can be specified.
Fuel cell stack 1: Pel = 1 kW; Vstack = 24 V
To get a nominal voltage of 24 V you will need a stack of 48 cells. The cell current must be
41.67 A to reach a stack power of 1 kW. Using the same current density, an active cell surface
2
of 104 cm is needed.
Fuel cell stack 2: Pel = 5 kW; Vstack = 42 V
2
For this stack the following parameters result: 119 A cell current, 84 single cells and 300 cm
cell surface.

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Solutions 8 The characteristic curve of a fuel cell C.2

4.5 The power density of a fuel cell (in W/L) is an important characteristic for the capacity
of a fuel cell, for example for use in a motor vehicle.
Calculate this value for the experimental fuel cell (without fan and end plates) for a
power of 50 W. Then compare this value with fuel cells that are used today in
automobile prototypes. Here values of 1 to 2 kW/L are being reached. How might the
power density of the experimental fuel cell stack be optimized? State some ideas.
The power density of the stack can be determined as follows: The volume of the stack, L x H x
3
W without fan and end plates, is Vstack = 6 cm × 7 cm × 8 cm = 336 cm . At 50 W the stack has a
power density of 149 W/L.
Other state-of-the-art stacks therefore have a power density 10 times higher.
The power density of the stack could be improved by the following measures:
• Higher current densities of the electrodes by improved catalysts or optimized reaction
guidance, thereby increasing the current density. A doubling of the current density would
produce a doubling of the power density.
• Thinner bipolar plates: The cell thickness of industrial fuel cells can easily be only one third
of the thickness of the experimental fuel cell. Thus the power density would be three times
greater.
• Reduction of the inactive cell surface: The entire cell surface of the used fuel cells amounts
2 2
to 7 cm × 8 cm = 56 cm , whereas the active surface is only 5 cm × 5 cm = 25 cm . This
corresponds to an inactive cell surface of 55 %. A reduction of the inactive surface with
constant external dimensions has a larger cell current and an increase in the power density.
• Further optimization is possible by reducing the volume of the stack end plates.

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Solutions 1 Parameters influencing the characteristic curve C.3

Required devices:

Description Item
I 630
Hydrogen supply (alternates) II 642
III 652
Fuel cell FC50 610
Electronic load EL200 620
External voltmeter -

Arrange the devices as in the following diagram:

Fuel Cell
FC50

Hydrogen supply

Electronic Load
EL200

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Solutions 2 Parameters influencing the characteristic curve C.3

Task:

In this experiment we investigate the effects of reduced air supply, increased internal
resistance, and fuel cell temperature on the characteristic curve of the fuel cell.

Execution:

1 Set-up
When setting up and starting the equipment, follow the instructions provided in
section A: Component Descriptions for the individual components, especially
the safety instructions.
During experiments, ensure the area has adequate ventilation and keep away
from sources of ignition.
1.1 Connect the AC power pack cable to the 12V= DC power input on the FC50 Fuel Cell.
Connect the other end of the AC power pack to a source of AC power.
On the front panel of the EL200 Electronic Load ensure the toggle switch is OFF. Use
the AC power cord to connect the EL200 to a source of AC power; then turn on the
main power switch located behind the EL200 front panel.
1.2 Use two short test leads to connect the FC50 with the EL200, paying attention to the
polarity.
1.3 Attach the hydrogen supply quick-coupler to the FC50. Connect the 9-pin plug of the
hydrogen supply’s solenoid valve to the H2 SUPPLY connector on the FC50.
1.4 If you want to use the provided software program to help perform the experiment, make
the appropriate connections now. You will find instructions in section A.3 Fuel Cell
Module FC50 under the heading “Start-up” and in section A.7 Control Software.

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Solutions 3 Parameters influencing the characteristic curve C.3

2 Start-up
Start each component as directed.
2.1 Hydrogen supply:
To start your hydrogen supply, refer to sections A.8, A.9 or A.10 of the
Component Descriptions, as appropriate for the supply you are using.
2.2 Electronic load EL200:
Ensure the 10-turn potentiometer is set to zero. Then turn ON the toggle switch on the
front panel.
2.3 FC50 software:
If you want to use the provided software program to assist with the parts of the
experiment described in section 3 and 5 (automated support for section 4 is not
possible), start the FC50 software on your PC and select experiment C.3. Wait until the
program requests you to press the FC50 START button. You will find instructions in
section A.3 Fuel Cell Module FC50 under the heading “Start-up” and in section A.7
Control Software.
2.4 Fuel cell FC50:
Ensure the fan control knob is at AUTO. Set the main switch to ON and press the
START button. After completing a system test, the green OPERATION light comes on
and the FC50 is ready for use. If an error occurs, the error code will appear in the
H2 Flow display. You will find descriptions of the errors in section A.3 Fuel Cell Module
FC50 under the heading “Error Messages and Causes”.

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Solutions 4 Parameters influencing the characteristic curve C.3

3 Effect of the air supply on the characteristic curve of a fuel cell


3.1 For these measurements, the fuel cell should be at a temperature of 40 °C. You can
reach this temperature by loading the fuel cell for a few minutes with a current of
approximately 5 A. Using the potentiometer of the EL200, increase the load current
until the Current display on the FC50 shows approximately 5 amperes. To further
cause stack temperature to rise, turn the fan control knob on the FC50 so the Fan
Power display indicates 10%.
After the temperature reaches 40 °C, ensure the load potentiometer is turned back to
zero and set fan control knob to AUTO.
3.2 Use the load potentiometer of the EL200 to set in sequence the current values given in
the following table. Wait for at least 15 s at each current setting before copying the
measured values of stack current Istack and stack voltage Vstack to the measured value
table. For the first series of measurements place the fan setting at AUTO. For the
second series, adjust the control so that Fan Power is 6%.
In each series, for the first measuring point of zero-amperes, you can simply turn the
EL200 toggle switch OFF, to ensure no load is applied to the system.
Note: The last measured values of the second series of measurements should be
taken quickly, because inadequate cooling will cause the fuel cell temperature to rise. If
necessary, you can cool the stack by temporarily removing the load and increasing fan
power. If the temperature does rise above 50 °C, for safety the FC50 automatically
switches off and will not restart until the temperature falls below 45 °C.

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Solutions 5 Parameters influencing the characteristic curve C.3

Nominal Measured values, Nominal Measured values,


current 1 Fan at AUTO current 2 Fan at 6%
Istack (A) Istack (A) Vstack (V) Istack (A) Istack (A) Vstack (V)
0.0 0.0 9.1 0.0 0.0 9.1
0.2 0.2 8.4 0.2 0.2 8.4
0.5 0.5 8.0 0.5 0.5 8.0
1.0 1.0 7.7 1.0 1.0 7.6
1.5 1.5 7.5 1.5 1.5 7.3
2.0 2.0 7.3 2.0 2.0 7.1
3.0 3.0 6.9 3.0 3.0 6.7
5.0 5.0 6.3 5.0 5.0 6.0
7.0 7.0 5.9 7.0 7.0 5.4
10.0 10.0 5.3 7.4 7.4 5.1
7.6 7.6 4.8
7.8 7.8 4.4
8.0 - -
8.2 - -
Because of experimental technique and prior condition of the fuel cell, students’ measured values may differ
from the example values given here.

3.3 If you are not making further measurements with the system, proceed to shut down
and switch off the system as follows:
• On the EL200, turn the potentiometer to zero, set the toggle switch to OFF, and turn
off the main power switch behind the front panel.
• On the FC50, turn the fan control knob to AUTO and turn the main switch OFF.
• Follow the correct procedure to shut down your hydrogen supply, as described in
sections A.8, A.9 or A.10 as appropriate.
• Remove the hydrogen supply from the FC50 by opening the quick-coupler.

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Solutions 6 Parameters influencing the characteristic curve C.3

3.4 Use the measured values to draw on the following diagram the voltage-current
characteristic Vstack = f( Istack) of the fuel cell for both fan settings.
Briefly describe the shape of the resulting characteristic curve.

Effect of air supply


10
Fan at AUTO
9 Fan at 6%
8
Stack voltage Vstack (V)

7
6
5
4
3

Range III
Range II
Range I

2
1
0
0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
Stack current Istack (A)

With automatic fan control the characteristic curve of the fuel cell shows an exponential shape
at currents between 0 A and 2 A. As the current increases the relationship between current and
voltage becomes linear.
With reduced air supply (fan power 6%) the shape of the characteristic curve corresponds to the
“auto” shape up to approximately 3 A. In the following linear range the voltage drops more.
Beyond a stack current of approximately 7 A the cell voltage clearly breaks down. As Vstack falls
below 4V a control device automatically switches off the FC50 for the protection of the fuel cell.

3.5 How do you explain the divergence of the reduced-air characteristic curve? On the
diagram mark the individual ranges of the reduced-air characteristic.
The fundamental function of the fuel cell consists of gaining electrical energy from the
exothermic reaction of hydrogen and oxygen. If one of these reactants is insufficient, the
reaction is partly or completely restrained, and the stack power falls. Because the load current
is being kept constant, it is the stack voltage that falls.
At reduced air supply, the oxygen concentration at the cathode drops depending upon load. Up
to a stack current of 2 A still no effects are seen. Here in Range I the characteristic has the
typical exponential shape, which is due to the catalytic process at the electrodes.

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Solutions 7 Parameters influencing the characteristic curve C.3

The deviation within the linear range (Range II) of the characteristic is due to the different
conditioning of the membrane during the measurements. Because of the fuel cell temperature
rising during the measurement with reduced air, the membrane dries up. This results in a lower
ionic conductivity and thus increased voltage drop.
The influence of the air supply on the characteristic of the fuel cell becomes particularly clear
with currents over 7 A (Range III). Due to the high load current, more oxygen is needed at the
membrane than can pass through the gas diffusion layer (GDL). The low oxygen concentration
in the cathode air reduces the density gradient, that’s why the effect of limited diffusion is
already apparent at this load.

3.6 Transfer from 3.2 the measured values for the stack current Istack to the following table
and calculate the associated stack power Pstack.
Then use the calculated values to draw on the following diagram the characteristic
Pstack = f( Istack) of the fuel cell with the two air supplies and briefly describe the shape of
the characteristic curve.

Fan at ’AUTO’ Fan at ’6%’


Measured value Calculated Measured value Calculated
Istack (A) Pstack (W) Istack (A) Pstack (W)
0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0
0.2 1.8 0.2 1.8
0.5 4.3 0.5 4.2
1.0 7.7 1.0 7.6
1.5 11.4 1.5 11.1
2.0 14.5 2.0 14.1
3.0 20.8 3.0 20.2
5.0 31.6 5.0 30.3
7.0 41.2 7.0 37.7
10.0 52.7 7.4 38.0
7.6 36.4
7.8 34.1
- -
- -

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Solutions 8 Parameters influencing the characteristic curve C.3

Effect of air supply on the power curve


60
Fan at AUTO
Fan at 6%
50
Stack power Pstack (W)

40

30

20

10

0
0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

Stack current Istack (A)

Both curves are parallel up to a stack current of 3 A. With rising stack current the stack power
increases approximately in the same relationship. This results in a nearly linear shape of the
characteristic curve. The performance curve of the fuel cell with automatic fan control (AUTO)
continues to rise over the entire measuring range. At large currents, a gradual flattening is seen.
The characteristic of the fuel cell with reduced air supply only rises up to a stack current of 7.4 A
where it reaches a maximum stack power of 38 W. With further increase of stack current the
stack power drops sharply.

3.7 What do you observe about the operation of fuel cells from the shape of the
performance curve at reduced air supply?
To obtain maximum power from the fuel cell with reduced air supply, you must select the
appropriate stack current. At too-high current, the stack power drops off sharply.

3.8 Calculate the oxygen flow rate needed at an individual cell and the rate of water
formation in order to produce an electric current of 10 A. Use a formula derived from
Faraday’s laws for the determination of the substance change. Then determine the
theoretically needed volumetric air flow for the entire stack on the assumption that the
usable oxygen portion in air is 20 %. Consider the number of cells of the stack.
Note: Perform the calculation at standard conditions (0 °C, 1.01325 bar). The
molecular standard volume is Vm = 22.4 L/mol; the Faraday constant F = 9.648 × 104
C/mol.

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Solutions 9 Parameters influencing the characteristic curve C.3

Faraday’s First Law:


m = ECE ⋅ I ⋅ t

From the Second Law, the electrochemical equivalent ECE can be written as:
M
ECE = .
z⋅F
Equating the two expressions of ECE we have:
m M
= .
I ⋅t z⋅F
Rearranging for the number of moles n:
m I ⋅t
n= = .
M z⋅F
The rate of substance change is:
I
n& =
.
z ⋅F
For each oxygen molecule four electrons are transferred in the conversion, as seen in the half
cell cathode reaction:
O2 + 4 H + 4 e- Å 2 H2O .
+

4
With I = 10 A and F = 9.648 × 10 C/mol the rate of substance change can be calculated:
10 mol
n& O2 = 4
= 2.591 × 10 −5 .
4 × 9.648 × 10 s
Using the molecular volume Vm = 22.4 L/mol the oxygen flow rate per cell at standard conditions
follows:
( )
V&O2 = 2.591 ⋅10 − 5 ⋅ (22.4 ) ⋅ (1000 ) ⋅ (60 ) = 34.82
ml
min
.

As we have a 10-cell stack and air is only 20 % oxygen, the required rate of air flow is:
 1  ml
V&air = (34.82 ) ⋅ (10 ) ⋅   = 1741 .
 0.20  min

3.9 The fuel cell stack actually operates with excess air = 10. What does “excess air”
mean and why is it necessary?
Note: Also consider the temperature behavior of the fuel cell at reduced fan power.
The excess air gives the relationship between the supplied and the theoretically determined
volumetric air flow. = 10 means that the fuel cell is supplied with 10 times as much air as is
necessary for the electro-chemical reaction.
The theoretically computed volumetric air flow is not enough in practice, because by the
chemical reaction the oxygen concentration in air is reduced. Below a certain oxygen
concentration sufficient oxygen no longer reaches the membrane, and the reaction is
restrained. It is always necessary to provide excess air to ensure sufficient oxygen
concentration.
Because the available fuel cell stack is air-cooled, the air flow must be calculated on the basis
of the heat to be dissipated. The air flow needed for stack cooling is clearly greater than the air
flow needed for the electro-chemical reaction.

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Solutions 10 Parameters influencing the characteristic curve C.3

4 Effect of internal resistance on the characteristic curve of a fuel cell


4.1 In this part of the experiment software support is not possible, because an external
voltage measurement is necessary. Connect a suitable voltmeter to measure the
terminal voltage Vterminal at the output of the FC50.
4.2 The recommended operating temperature is the same as in the previous part, 40 °C. If
the fuel cell has cooled, heat it again as described in 3.1.
4.3 Use the load potentiometer of the EL200 to set in sequence the current values given in
the following table.
Wait for at least 15 s at each current setting before copying the measured values of
stack current Istack, stack voltage Vstack and terminal voltage Vterminal to the measured
value table.
In each series, for the first measuring point of zero-amperes, you can simply turn the
EL200 toggle switch OFF, to ensure no load is applied to the system.

Nominal Measured values


Istack (A) Istack (A) Vstack (V) Vterminal (V)
0.0 0.00 8.90 8.95
0.2 0.21 8.19 8.25
0.5 0.49 7.94 7.99
1.0 1.00 7.65 7.67
1.5 1.51 7.42 7.42
2.0 2.02 7.22 7.20
3.0 3.00 6.88 6.81
5.0 5.02 6.38 6.23
7.0 6.99 5.89 5.67
10.0 9.95 5.21 4.89
Because of experimental technique and prior condition of the fuel cell, students’ measured
values may differ from the example values given here.

4.4 If you are not making further measurements with the system, proceed to shut down
and switch off the system as described in 3.3.

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Solutions 11 Parameters influencing the characteristic curve C.3

4.5 Draw the two voltage-current characteristics Vstack = f(Istack) and Vterminal = f(Istack) and
describe the shapes of both characteristic curve.

Effect of internal resistance


10
Stack voltage
9
Terminal voltage
8
7
Voltage (V)

6
5
4
3
2
1
0
0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
Stack current Istack (A)

Both curves follow the characteristic appearance of a fuel cell V-I curve. Up to approximately
3 A no differences in the characteristic curve are seen. In the following linear range terminal
voltage drops in comparison to the stack voltage. The voltage difference increases evenly with
increasing stack current.

4.6 Describe the diverging shape of the characteristic curve with the FC50 fuel cell
structure and suggest causes for it.
The difference between stack and terminal voltage is caused by internal resistances, which
arise between stack and connecting terminals. The higher these resistances are the more
strongly voltage drops with rising load. For example losses arise in the lines and the current
measurement.

4.7 Consider the FC50 as a real power supply and describe the make-up of internal
resistance Rint. Divide it into two partial resistances and draw an appropriate schematic
diagram.
The Ohmic resistances between the fuel cell and the terminals are in series to the internal
resistance of the fuel cell stack. If you consider the FC50 as real power supply, these
resistances can be summarized as the internal resistance Rint:
Rint = Rstack + Raddl

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Solutions 12 Parameters influencing the characteristic curve C.3

Fuel Cell
FC50
Vstack
Istack

Rstack
V0
Raddl

Vterminal

4.8 Determine with the help of the curves in 4.5 the size of the resistances in the diagram
of 4.7.
Calculate the power losses due to these resistances at a stack current of 10 A.
From the gradient of the characteristic curves within their linear range the resistance values can
be determined:
∆Vstack 2V
Rstack = = = 0.23 Ω
∆Istack 8.8 A

∆Vterminal 2.5V
Rint = = = 0.26 Ω
∆Istack 9.6 A

R addl = R int − R stack = 0.03 Ω

The energy dissipation caused by internal resistance is:


Pint = Rint ⋅ (I stack )2 = 26 W .

4.9 To which physical causes can the Ohmic resistance be attributed within the fuel cell
stacks?
What optimization possibilities exist?
The Ohmic resistance of the fuel cell is the result of the resistance of the electron conduction
(bipolar plates) and the resistance of the ionic conduction (electrolyte). Also the contact
resistances at the material transitions play a crucial role.
Optimization possibilities exist in different places:
• Reduction of material thickness so that electrons have less distance to travel;
• Decrease of the material resistance of the bipolar plates;
• Improvement of the ionic conductivity electrolytes;
• Plane surfaces and high assembly pressures to decrease the contact resistances.

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Solutions 13 Parameters influencing the characteristic curve C.3

5 Effect of the temperature on the characteristic curve of a fuel cell


5.1 In this part of the experiment two series of measurements are taken at different fuel cell
temperatures. The recommended temperatures at the beginning of each series are
approximately 28 °C and 44 °C. During the experiment temperatures will unavoidably
drift. In order to keep the deviations small, currents and voltages should be measured
and recorded as quickly as possible.
5.2 If you want to use the provided software program to assist with this part of the
experiment, you must now switch off the FC50 and start the FC50 software on your
PC. Select the appropriate experiment and wait until the program requests you to press
the FC50 START button.
5.3 It is recommended to take first the series of measurements at the lower temperature. If
the temperature is already too high, you can use the fan to lower it. Cool the fuel cell as
quickly as possible to avoid drying the membranes.
After reaching the desired operating temperature, reset the fan control to AUTO.
To reach the fuel cell temperature of the second series of measurements load the fuel
cell for a few minutes with a current of approximately 7 A. Using the potentiometer of
the EL200, increase the load current until the Current display on the FC50 shows
approximately 7 amperes. To further cause stack temperature to rise, turn the fan
control knob on the FC50 so the Fan Power display indicates 12%.
After the temperature reaches 44 °C, ensure the load potentiometer is turned back to
zero and set fan control knob to AUTO.
5.4 Use the load potentiometer of the EL200 to set in sequence the current values given in
the following table.
Wait for at least 15 s at each current setting before copying the measured values of
stack current Istack and stack voltage Vstack to the measured value table. Begin the first
series of measurements at a stack temperature of approx. 28 °C, the second series of
measurements at approx. 44 °C.
In each series, for the first measuring point of zero-amperes, you can simply turn the
EL200 toggle switch OFF, to ensure no load is applied to the system.
Note: The last measured values of the first series of measurements should be taken
quickly, because high current will cause the fuel cell temperature to rise. If necessary,
you can cool the stack by temporarily removing the load and increasing fan power.

© Heliocentris - Energizing education


Solutions 14 Parameters influencing the characteristic curve C.3

Measured values
Nominal
Tstack = 28 °C Tstack = 44 °C
Istack (A) Istack (A) Vstack (V) Istack (A) Vstack (V)
0.00 0.00 9.20 0.00 9.20
0.20 0.19 8.57 0.19 8.65
0.50 0.49 8.11 0.50 8.24
1.00 1.01 7.72 1.01 7.93
1.50 1.49 7.48 1.49 7.73
2.00 2.00 7.25 1.99 7.56
3.00 3.01 6.89 3.01 7.21
5.00 5.02 6.37 5.02 6.62
7.00 7.03 5.92 6.99 6.27
10.00 9.99 5.37 9.99 5.60
Because of experimental technique and prior condition of the fuel cell, students’ measured values may
differ from the example values given here.

5.5 If you are not making further measurements with the system, proceed to shut down
and switch off the system as described in 3.3.
5.6 Draw the voltage-current characteristic curve for each operating temperature and
describe the shape of the curve.

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Solutions 15 Parameters influencing the characteristic curve C.3

Effect of stack temperature


10
28°C
9 44°C
8
Stack voltage Vstack (V)

7
6
5
4
3
2
1
0
0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
Stack current Istack (A)

The typical voltage-current characteristic curve of a fuel cell is recognizable for both
temperatures. But the characteristic of the high temperature measurement flattens more
strongly already within the range of the catalysis influence. Within the linear range (Ohmic
resistance) the characteristics are approximately parallel, but a gradual convergence occurs at
Istack greater than 7 A.

5.7 Explain the described characteristic curves considering the electrochemical reaction
occurring here and the electrical conductivity.
The chemical reaction occurring in the fuel cell is subject to a catalytic process. Catalytic
processes are always accelerated by high temperatures, whereby also the total reaction can
occur faster.
In the case of the fuel cell it means more electrons are available, resulting in a higher stack
current. Similarly you get a higher stack voltage at the same current.
This effect can also be seen if you regard to the function which describes the characteristic
-1/T
within this range. The function has the form e , where T represents the process temperature.
From the minus sign in the exponent it is evident that with rising T the entire term grows, thus
with rising temperature the voltage increases.
The convergence of both characteristics at large load can be explained by the ionic conduction
of the membrane and the electron conduction of the bipolar plates.
With rising fuel cell temperature the reaction water can evaporate more easily, whereby the
membrane dries up more and more. Because the protons can be conducted only through wet
membranes, the ionic conductivity decreases. That is, less charge carrier can be transported by
the membrane, and the Ohmic resistance increases.
Another reason for the convergence is the increasing resistance of the bipolar plates with rising
temperature.

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Solutions 16 Parameters influencing the characteristic curve C.3

This effect can be seen only at large loads, because the voltage drop due to resistance
increases proportional to the current.

5.8 Draw conclusions about the optimum operating temperature.


At too-low temperatures the catalytic process is restrained; at too-high temperatures the
resistance increases, particularly from drying of the membranes.
However the optimum temperature depends on further factors, e.g. on the air flow and on the
load current. Therefore the intended application of the fuel cell also affects its optimum
temperature.

5.9 By which measure can the optimal operating temperature be increased?


Draw on your conclusions in 5.7 and consider whether the effect is applicable in every
case.
At too-high temperatures drying of the membrane has a negative effect on the operation of the
fuel cell. Humidifying the air which supplies oxygen and cooling can prevent this.
The humidification of air would need to be done by an upstream air moisturizer, requiring
additional energy. Therefore this measure is only useful for high-power stacks.

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Solutions 1 Determination of the hydrogen current curve C.4

Required devices:

Description Item
I 630
Hydrogen supply (alternates) II 642
III 652
Fuel cell FC50 610
Electronic load EL200 620

Arrange the devices as in the following diagram:

Fuel Cell
FC50

Hydrogen supply

Electronic Load
EL200

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Solutions 2 Determination of the hydrogen current curve C.4

Task:

In this experiment we determine the relationship between the hydrogen flow rate and
electrical current, and how this is expressed in Faraday’s first law.

Execution:

1 Set-up
When setting up and starting the equipment, follow the instructions provided in
section A: Component Descriptions for the individual components, especially
the safety instructions.
During experiments, ensure the area has adequate ventilation and keep away
from sources of ignition.
1.1 Connect the AC power pack cable to the 12V= DC power input on the FC50 Fuel Cell.
Connect the other end of the AC power pack to a source of AC power.
On the front panel of the EL200 Electronic Load ensure the toggle switch is OFF. Use
the AC power cord to connect the EL200 to a source of AC power; then turn on the
main power switch located behind the EL200 front panel.
1.2 Use two short test leads to connect the FC50 with the EL200, paying attention to the
polarity.
1.3 Attach the hydrogen supply quick-coupler to the FC50. Connect the 9-pin plug of the
hydrogen supply’s solenoid valve to the H2 SUPPLY connector on the FC50.
1.4 If you want to use the provided software program to help perform the experiment, make
the appropriate connections now. You will find instructions in section A.3 Fuel Cell
Module FC50 under the heading “Start-up” and in section A.7 Control Software.

© Heliocentris - Energizing education


Solutions 3 Determination of the hydrogen current curve C.4

2 Start-up
Start each component as directed.
2.1 Hydrogen supply:
To start your hydrogen supply, refer to sections A.8, A.9 or A.10 of the
Component Descriptions, as appropriate for the supply you are using.
2.2 Electronic load EL200:
Ensure the 10-turn potentiometer is set to zero. Then turn ON the toggle switch on the
front panel.
2.3 FC50 software:
If you want to use the provided software program to assist with the experiment, start
the FC50 software on your PC and select experiment C.4. Wait until the program
requests you to press the FC50 START button. You will find instructions in section A.3
Fuel Cell Module FC50 under the heading “Start-up” and in section A.7 Control
Software.
2.4 Fuel cell FC50:
Ensure the fan control knob is at AUTO. Set the main switch to ON and press the
START button. After completing a system test, the green OPERATION light comes on
and the FC50 is ready for use. If an error occurs, the error code will appear in the
H2 Flow display. You will find descriptions of the errors in section A.3 Fuel Cell Module
FC50 under the heading “Error Messages and Causes”.

© Heliocentris - Energizing education


Solutions 4 Determination of the hydrogen current curve C.4

3 Determination of the hydrogen-current relation


3.1 For these measurements, the fuel cell should be at a temperature of 40 °C. You can
reach this temperature by loading the fuel cell for a few minutes with a current of
approximately 5 A. Using the potentiometer of the EL200, increase the load current
until the Current display on the FC50 shows approximately 5 amperes. To further
cause stack temperature to rise, turn the fan control knob on the FC50 so the Fan
Power display indicates 10%.
After the temperature reaches 40 °C, ensure the load potentiometer is turned back to
zero and set fan control knob to AUTO.
In each series, for the first measuring point of zero-amperes, you can simply turn the
EL200 toggle switch OFF, to ensure no load is applied to the system.
3.2 Use the load potentiometer of the EL200 to set in sequence the current values given in
the following table.
Wait for at least 60 s at each current setting before copying the measured values of
stack current Istack and hydrogen flow rate V&H 2 to the measured value table.

In each series, for the first measuring point of zero-amperes, you can simply turn the
EL200 toggle switch OFF, to ensure no load is applied to the system.
Note: For reaching even hydrogen concentration at all membranes it is necessary to
purge the hydrogen channels of the fuel cell. This takes place automatically and for a
brief time visibly increases the hydrogen flow rate. If a purging occurs during the
measurement, you should restart the 60 s waiting period for that operating point. The
previously measured values are still valid.

© Heliocentris - Energizing education


Solutions 5 Determination of the hydrogen current curve C.4

Nominal Measured values


Istack (A) Istack (A) V&H 2 (ml/min)

0.0 0.00 10
1.0 1.00 80
2.0 1.99 145
3.0 3.01 215
4.0 4.02 285
5.0 5.01 350
6.0 6.01 420
7.0 7.00 490
8.0 8.00 560
9.0 8.99 629
10.0 10.01 700
Because of experimental technique and prior condition of the fuel cell,
students’ measured values may differ from the example values given
here.

3.3 If you are not making further measurements with the system, proceed to shut down
and switch off the system as follows:
• On the EL200, turn the potentiometer to zero, set the toggle switch to OFF, and turn
off the main power switch behind the front panel.
• On the FC50, turn the fan control knob to AUTO and turn the main switch OFF.
• Follow the correct procedure to shut down your hydrogen supply, as described in
sections A.8, A.9 or A.10 as appropriate.
• Remove the hydrogen supply from the FC50 by opening the quick-coupler.

© Heliocentris - Energizing education


Solutions 6 Determination of the hydrogen current curve C.4

3.4 Plot the measured hydrogen consumption as a function of current in a diagram:


V&H 2 = f (I ) VWDFN

Hydrogen - current curve


800
Rate of hydrogen flow VolH2 (ml/min)

700

600

500

400

300

200

100

0
0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
Stack current Istack (A)

3.5 Describe and explain the characteristic curve, using the First Faraday Law. Then
explain the observed behavior in no-load operation (I = 0 A). VWDFN

From Faraday’s First Law, the rate of hydrogen flow is directly proportional to the current:
V& ~I H2
That is, with rising current the hydrogen requirement of the fuel cell increases in the same
proportion. The linear process of the measured curve shows this relation.
We observe however that a small hydrogen flow occurs even in the no-load operation. Since no
electric current is produced in the fuel cell, no hydrogen is converted in the chemical reaction.
The hydrogen must escape in other ways. Because of the pressure difference between the
hydrogen and oxygen sides, hydrogen molecules are pressed through the membrane. In
addition microscopic leakages occur because of the way the cells are interconnected and
through the screw connections in the gas supply. The resulting hydrogen flow is called leakage
rate.

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Solutions 7 Determination of the hydrogen current curve C.4

3.6 When specifying fuel cell systems it is important to know the current-dependent
hydrogen flow rate of a stack. This indicates how much hydrogen the stack needs to
supply a given current. Determine this value from the diagram in 3.4 neglecting the
leakage rate.
Then with the help of Faraday’s laws calculate the theoretical value and compare it to
the observed value.
Note: The displayed values of hydrogen flow rate have been converted to the
equivalent ml/min at standard conditions (0 °C, 1.01325 bar). Calculate the theoretical
value of the hydrogen flow rate at standard conditions. The molecular standard volume
is Vm = 22.4 L/mol; the Faraday constant F = 9.648 × 104 C/mol.
The current-dependent hydrogen flow in the stack corresponds to the upward slope of the
characteristic curve.
ml
500
∆V&H 2 min = 69.4 ml .
=
∆I 7.2 A A ⋅ min
To calculate the theoretical value use the First Faraday Law:
m = ECE ⋅ I ⋅ t
From the Second Law, the electrochemical equivalent ECE can be written as:
M
ECE = .
z ⋅F
With the amount of material n:
m
n=
M
the material flow n& becomes:
I
n& = .
z⋅F
Using the molecular standard volume Vm the required flow rate can be determined.
Rearranging for the flow rate per unit current yields the following equation. The current-
dependent flow rate is:
V&H 2 a ⋅ Vm
= .
I z ⋅F
With the number of cells per stack a = 10 and the number of electrons for each converted
molecule z = 2 (from the cathode reaction) for theoretical value can be calculated:
 L 
10×  22.4
V&H 2  mol  L ml
= = 1.16×10-3 = 69.65 .
I  C  As A min
2×  9.648×104
 mol 
The theoretically calculated and the experimentally determined value agree very closely. Small
deviations can arise from measurement inaccuracies.

© Heliocentris - Energizing education


Solutions 8 Determination of the hydrogen current curve C.4

3.7 The current-dependent hydrogen flow rate determined in 3.6 is valid only for this stack.
Express the hydrogen flow rate as a function of the number of cells a of a fuel cell
stack and develop a general formula for the required hydrogen volume of a stack
related to current, number of cells and time.
Use this formula to calculate how much hydrogen is needed to draw 30 A from a 25-
cell stack for 8 hours. What is the required hydrogen flow rate?
From the rearranged formula in 3.6:
VH 2 V ml
= m ≈7 .
I ⋅a ⋅t z ⋅F A cell min
That is, 7 ml hydrogen are required to draw one ampere from a cell for one minute.
Therefore for a current of 30 A from 25 cells for 8 hours the hydrogen volume required:
ml
VH 2 = 7 × 30 A × 25 cells × 8 h = 2.52 m3 .
A cell min
The computation for the hydrogen flow rate can be deduced from the same formula:
V ml L
V&H 2 = H 2 = 7 × 30 A × 25 cells = 5.25 .
t A cell min min

© Heliocentris - Energizing education


Solutions 1 Efficiency of the fuel cell stack C.5

Required devices:

Description Item
I 630
Hydrogen supply (alternates) II 642
III 652
Fuel cell FC50 610
Electronic load EL200 620

Arrange the devices as in the following diagram:

Fuel Cell
FC50

Hydrogen supply

Electronic Load
EL200

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Solutions 2 Efficiency of the fuel cell stack C.5

Task:

In this experiment we determine the efficiency of the fuel cell stack. By analyzing the power
efficiency characteristic you will gain important knowledge about sizing a fuel cell.
Two additional methods are used to measure efficiency in different ways:
• Stack efficiency as determined from voltage and current efficiency;
• Efficiency calculation using the free reaction enthalpy, lower heat value (LHV) or
higher heat value (HHV).

Execution:

1 Set-up
When setting up and starting the equipment, follow the instructions provided in
section A: Component Descriptions for the individual components, especially
the safety instructions.
During experiments, ensure the area has adequate ventilation and keep away
from sources of ignition.
1.1 Connect the AC power pack cable to the 12V= DC power input on the FC50 Fuel Cell.
Connect the other end of the AC power pack to a source of AC power.
On the front panel of the EL200 Electronic Load ensure the toggle switch is OFF. Use
the AC power cord to connect the EL200 to a source of AC power; then turn on the
main power switch located behind the EL200 front panel.
1.2 Use two short test leads to connect the FC50 with the EL200, paying attention to the
polarity.
1.3 Attach the hydrogen supply quick-coupler to the FC50. Connect the 9-pin plug of the
hydrogen supply’s solenoid valve to the H2 SUPPLY connector on the FC50.
1.4 If you want to use the provided software program to help perform the experiment, make
the appropriate connections now. You will find instructions in section A.3 Fuel Cell
Module FC50 under the heading “Start-up” and in section A.7 Control Software.

© Heliocentris - Energizing education


Solutions 3 Efficiency of the fuel cell stack C.5

2 Start-up
Start each component as directed.
2.1 Hydrogen supply:
To start your hydrogen supply, refer to sections A.8, A.9 or A.10 of the
Component Descriptions, as appropriate for the supply you are using.
2.2 Electronic load EL200:
Ensure the 10-turn potentiometer is set to zero. Then turn ON the toggle switch on the
front panel.
2.3 FC50 software:
If you want to use the provided software program to assist with the experiment, start
the FC50 software on your PC and select experiment C.5. Wait until the program
requests you to press the FC50 START button. You will find instructions in section A.3
Fuel Cell Module FC50 under the heading “Start-up” and in section A.7 Control
Software.
2.4 Fuel cell FC50:
Ensure the fan control knob is at AUTO. Set the main switch to ON and press the
START button. After completing a system test, the green OPERATION light comes on
and the FC50 is ready for use. If an error occurs, the error code will appear in the
H2 Flow display. You will find descriptions of the errors in section A.3 Fuel Cell Module
FC50 under the heading “Error Messages and Causes”.

© Heliocentris - Energizing education


Solutions 4 Efficiency of the fuel cell stack C.5

3 Data acquisition
3.1 For these measurements, the fuel cell should be at a temperature of 40 °C. You can
reach this temperature by loading the fuel cell for a few minutes with a current of
approximately 5 A. Using the potentiometer of the EL200, increase the load current
until the Current display on the FC50 shows approximately 5 amperes. To further
cause stack temperature to rise, turn the fan control knob on the FC50 so the Fan
Power display indicates 10%.
After the temperature reaches 40 °C, ensure the load potentiometer is turned back to
zero and set fan control knob to AUTO.
3.2 Use the load potentiometer of the EL200 to set in sequence the current values given in
the following table. Wait for at least 60 s at each current setting before copying the
measured values of stack current Istack, stack voltage Vstack and hydrogen flow V&H 2 to
the measured value table.
In each series, for the first measuring point of zero-amperes, you can simply turn the
EL200 toggle switch OFF, to ensure no load is applied to the system.
Note: For reaching even hydrogen concentration at all membranes it is necessary to
purge the hydrogen channels of the fuel cell. This takes place automatically and for a
brief time visibly increases the hydrogen flow rate. If a purging occurs during the
measurement, you should restart the 60 s waiting period for that operating point. The
previously measured values are still valid.

© Heliocentris - Energizing education


Solutions 5 Efficiency of the fuel cell stack C.5

Nominal Measured values


Istack (A) Istack (A) Vstack (V) V&H 2  (ml/min)

0.0 0.00 9.05 14


0.2 0.20 8.31 25
0.5 0.52 7.94 45
1.0 1.00 7.51 79
1.5 1.51 7.21 110
2.0 1.99 6.96 145
3.0 3.01 6.51 215
5.0 5.01 6.02 350
7.0 7.00 5.63 490
10.0 10.00 5.12 698
Because of experimental technique and prior condition of the fuel cell,
students’ measured values may differ from the example values given here.

3.3 If you are not making further measurements with the system, proceed to shut down
and switch off the system as follows:
• On the EL200, turn the potentiometer to zero, set the toggle switch to OFF, and turn
off the main power switch behind the front panel.
• On the FC50, turn the fan control knob to AUTO and turn the main switch OFF.
• Follow the correct procedure to shut down your hydrogen supply, as described in
sections A.8, A.9 or A.10 as appropriate.
• Remove the hydrogen supply from the FC50 by opening the quick-coupler.

© Heliocentris - Energizing education


Solutions 6 Efficiency of the fuel cell stack C.5

4 Determination of the stack efficiency of the fuel cell


4.1 Determine the stack efficiency stack of this fuel cell by power balance (the ratio of
delivered power to the power used).
Perform an example calculation for a selected measuring point (other than the no-load
operation point) and then calculate all values for the table. Also note the delivered
stack power Pstack in the table.
Note: The displayed values of hydrogen flow rate have been converted to the
equivalent ml/min at standard conditions (0 °C, 1.01325 bar). The heat value of
hydrogen at standard conditions is LHV = 10.8 MJ/m3.

Example calculation at the second measurement point (Istack = 0.2 A):


Pout Vstack ⋅ Istack
ηstack = =
Pin LHV ⋅ V&H 2

8.31 V × 0.2 A
ηstack = = 0.37
MJ ml
10.8 3 × 25
m min

Measured
value Calculation
Istack (A) stack Pstack (W)
0.00 0.00 0.00
0.20 0.37 1.66
0.52 0.51 4.13
1.00 0.53 7.51
1.51 0.55 10.89
1.99 0.53 13.85
3.01 0.51 19.60
5.01 0.48 30.16
7.00 0.45 39.41
10.00 0.41 51.20

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Solutions 7 Efficiency of the fuel cell stack C.5

4.2 Transfer the calculated data from the table into the following diagram and draw the
graphs of the functions stack = f(Istack) and Pstack = f(Istack)
Briefly describe the shape of both characteristics.

Efficiency-Power comparison
1,2 60

1,0 50
Efficiency

Power Pstack (W)


0,8 40

0,6 30

0,4 20

0,2 eta_E
stack 10
PPstack
0,0 0
0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
Stack current Istack (A)

The power Pstack delivered by the stack rises over the entire range while the stack efficiency
stack is greatest at low currents.

4.3 What important principles for the optimum design of fuel cells can be learned from
these characteristic curves of power and efficiency?
Consider for each principle a possible area of application, and an example of use.
The optimum efficiency of a fuel cell occurs in the low-load range. However the optimum
delivered power occurs in the high or maximum current range.
Therefore depending on the application you have to choose whether the fuel cell will operate
with maximum efficiency or with maximum power. With optimum efficiency the supplied fuel is
optimally converted into electricity, however the fuel cell has a higher maximum power than may
be used. Consequently larger weight and volume result, and greater cost. Such efficiency
concerns are meaningful only for stationary applications, for which weight and size are not
relevant and which operate for a long time with constant load, e.g. energy production in a power
station.
However if a fuel cell works in the power optimum, a clear reduction in weight, volume and
purchase price can be achieved despite poorer fuel utilization. This mode of operation is
particularly interesting for mobile applications, since the fuel cell must itself be transported, e.g.
for applications in the automobile industry.

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Solutions 8 Efficiency of the fuel cell stack C.5

5 Determination of the stack efficiency from current and voltage efficiency


5.1 Determine the voltage efficiency V of the fuel cell from the measured values of 3.2.
Perform the calculation with the reversible thermodynamic voltage related to the lower
heat value (LHV) of hydrogen. Also determine the current efficiency I and then
calculate the stack efficiency stack from both.
Perform an example calculation for a selected measuring point (other than the no-load
operation point) and then calculate all values for the table.
Note: The values of the hydrogen flow rate are converted to standard conditions (0 °C,
1.01325 bar). The reversible thermodynamic voltage related to the lower heat value
LHV of hydrogen is Vrev LHV = 1.254 V, the Faraday constant F = 9.648 x 104 C/mol and
the molecular standard volume Vm = 22.4 L/mol.
Example calculation at the second measuring point (Istack = 0.2 A):
The voltage efficiency is the relationship of cell voltage to the reference voltage:
Vstack
ηV = .
a ⋅ Vrev LHV
With the number of cells in the stack a = 10 it follows:
8.31 V
ηV = = 0.66 .
10 × 1.254 V
The current efficiency is equal to the relationship of stack current to theoretically possible
current:
I
ηI = stack .
I th
The theoretically possible current computes as follows:
V& ⋅ F ⋅ z
I th = .
a ⋅ Vm
With the number of electrons per molecule conversion in the reaction z = 2 and the number of
cells in the stack a = 10 the current efficiency is calculated:
l
0.2 A × 10 × 22.4
ηI = mol = 0.56 .
ml C
25 × 9.648 × 104 ×2
min mol
As the stack efficiency is the product of voltage and current efficiency:
stack  V‡ I
for the selected measuring point it is therefore:
stack = 0.66 × 0.56 = 0.37.

© Heliocentris - Energizing education


Solutions 9 Efficiency of the fuel cell stack C.5

Measured
value Computation
Istack (A) V I stack

0.00 0.72 0.00 0.00


0.20 0.66 0.56 0.37
0.52 0.63 0.81 0.51
1.00 0.60 0.88 0.53
1.51 0.57 0.96 0.55
1.99 0.56 0.96 0.53
3.01 0.52 0.98 0.51
5.01 0.48 1.00 0.48
7.00 0.45 1.00 0.45
10.00 0.41 1.00 0.41

5.2 Transfer the calculated data from the table into the following diagram and draw the
graphs of the functions V f(Istack), I = f(Istack) and stack = f(Istack)
Briefly describe the characteristic curves and the mutual influence of the graphs on one
another.
Note: Consider and compare the characteristic processes particularly for small and
large currents.

Efficiencies of the fuel cell


1,2

1,0
Efficiency

0,8

0,6

0,4
eta_I
I

0,2 V
eta_U
stack
eta_E
0,0
0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
Stack current Istack (A)

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Solutions 10 Efficiency of the fuel cell stack C.5

The current efficiency rises steeply from the zero point, quickly approaching the limit value of 1.
The voltage efficiency has a constantly falling trend, which however flattens with increasing
current. Since the stack efficiency is the product of the two other graphs, it behaves for small
currents similar to the current efficiency, since the lower limit value of zero is the determining
factor. For large currents the stack efficiency is determined by the voltage efficiency. As a result
of the initially rising then falling process, the stack efficiency has a maximum point where the
fuel cell optimally converts the supplied fuel into electricity.

5.3 What determines the current efficiency and which losses decrease it? Why is the
efficiency for large currents nearly 1?
The current efficiency measures fuel utilization. It indicates how much of the consumed
hydrogen is electro-chemically converted. Losses which affect the current efficiency do not
occur in the chemical (main) reaction, but rather in chemical side reactions and leakages
(membrane, screw connections).
These losses decrease with rising current and their affect on the amount of hydrogen used
electro-chemically are negligible. Thus at large currents the efficiency is nearly 1.

5.4 Now consider the voltage efficiency more exactly. What does it affect and which losses
decrease it? Why isn’t it 1 also in the no-load operation?
The voltage efficiency is a measure of the efficiency of the electro-chemical (main) process. It
specifies the quality of conversion from internal energy of the participating molecules into
electricity.
Losses that affect the voltage efficiency are:
• Catalysis losses at the cathode;
• Losses due to limited diffusion of gases to the electrodes;
• Losses due to hydrogen passage through the membrane (decrease of the electro-chemical
potential between anode and cathode);
• Ohmic losses of the electrolyte, the bipolar plates and at the material interfaces (gas
diffusion layer).
In the no-load operation the losses are caused by hydrogen passage through the membrane to
the cathode. The hydrogen leads to a mixing potential at the cathode and thus to the lowering of
the electro-chemical potential between the electrodes. Therefore the theoretical reference
voltage cannot be achieved, and efficiency losses result at no-load operation.

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Solutions 11 Efficiency of the fuel cell stack C.5

6 Thermodynamic view of the reference voltage


6.1 For the determination of the voltage efficiency a reference voltage is necessary.
What different ways are there to calculate this reference voltage and how might they be
used?
If you consider the process of the electro-chemical transformation from hydrogen and oxygen to
water, you can calculate the reversible thermodynamic voltage (also reversible terminal voltage
or theoretical equilibrium voltage) with the help of the free reaction enthalpy. From it a reference
0
voltage of Vrev =1.23 V results.
However if you compare the fuel cell with internal combustion engines, you can use the energy
liberated by the combustion for the calculation of the reversible thermodynamic voltage.
Depending upon the structure of the comparison system the lower heat value LHV (Vrev LHV =
1.254 V) or the higher heat value HHV (Vrev HHV = 1.482 V) of hydrogen is used.

6.2 Briefly describe the theoretical determination of the reference voltages sought in 6.1.
Use the thermodynamic terms "formation enthalpy", "reaction enthalpy", "reaction
entropy" and "free reaction enthalpy".
The determination of the reversible thermodynamic voltages related to the heat of combustion
R
Vrev LHV and Vrev HHV is based on the understanding that the entire reaction enthalpy H of the
formation reaction from water (related to the first law of thermodynamics) is available as usable
energy. The reaction enthalpy is calculated thereby as the difference of the formation enthalpies
H if of the reaction products (water) and the formation enthalpies H if of the basic materials
(hydrogen, oxygen). Whether the lower heat value LHV or the higher heat value HHV is used in
this calculation depends on the state of aggregation of the water after the reaction: If the water
is present after the reaction as a vapor, it still contains the energy of condensation. Since this
energy in the "exhaust gas" is released from the system and is not used, the Lower Heat Value
must be used for the calculation. If the product water is present as liquid however, the energy of
condensation is available to the system. So the usable energy is greater. In this case the higher
heat value must be used in calculations.
By the second law of thermodynamics the reaction enthalpy can never be completely converted
R
into usable energy. Reducing the reaction enthalpy by the reaction entropy S, one receives
R
the technically usable energy, the free reaction enthalpy (Gibbs energy) G. Reaction entropy
rev
means that entropy which is transported by the heat of reaction Qm .

6.3 Calculate the voltage efficiencies based on the reference voltages in 6.1. Use them
with selected measured values from 3.2.
Discuss the results and interpret the meaning. Which calculation is most meaningful, in
order to determine the electrical efficiency of the fuel cell compared with a conventional
power station?
Note: If you don’t know the reference voltages mentioned in 6.1, you can use the
values V1 = 1.23 V, V2 = 1.254 V and V3 = 1.482 V.

© Heliocentris - Energizing education


Solutions 12 Efficiency of the fuel cell stack C.5

Calculation of the voltage efficiency using the reversible thermodynamic voltage related to the
0
free reaction enthalpy Vrev :
Vstack
ηV = 0
.
a ⋅ Vrev
0
With the number of cells of the stack a = 10 and Vrev = 1.23 V the voltage efficiency is:
8.31 V
ηV = = 0.68 .
10 × 1.23 V
Using the reversible thermodynamic voltage related to the lower heat value Vrev LHV the voltage
efficiency is:
Vstack 8.31 V
ηV = = = 0.66 .
a ⋅ Vrev LHV 10 × 1.254 V
Selecting the higher heat value as basis for the reversible thermodynamic voltage the voltage
efficiency is:
Vstack 8.31 V
ηV = = = 0.56 .
a ⋅ Vrev HHV 10 × 1.482 V
Depending upon the reference voltage, different voltage efficiencies result. Since the reference
voltage is in the denominator, the efficiency is inversely proportional to the reference voltage.
It is therefore important to refer the measured voltage to the correct reference voltage. The
selected reference voltage should always be indicated, as otherwise substantial errors can
develop when using the voltage efficiency.
When considering a fuel cell used in a co-generation plant, the efficiency must be calculated
with one of the heat values. Whether the lower heat value or the higher heat value should be
used depends on the processing in the co-generation plant: if the condensation heat of the
water contained in the exhaust gas is utilized, use the higher heat value; otherwise use the
lower heat value.

6.4 In step 5.4 the different losses which affect the voltage efficiency should be listed. Even
neglecting all losses which directly affect the characteristic, the voltage efficiency does
not become 1.0. Which additional deviation from the theoretical occurs in this system?
Note: Consider which thermal boundary conditions affect the formation enthalpy of the
materials.
The formation enthalpy of a material is always given with the assumption that the reaction
product has the same temperature as the input material. Because of the increased temperature
of the membrane compared to the environment, the reaction product of the fuel cell (water) is
delivered at a higher temperature than the reactants (oxygen and hydrogen). One part of the
energy is thus transferred to the environment in the form of heat in the water and thus cannot
be converted into electricity. These losses are not considered in the reference voltage and thus
reduce the voltage efficiency.

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Solutions 1 Set-up of a fuel cell power supply C.6

Required devices:

Description Item
I 630
Hydrogen supply (alternates) II 642
III 652
Fuel cell FC50 610
Electronic load EL200 620
Voltage converter VC100 621
Traffic light TL10 622

Arrange the devices as in the following diagram:

Fuel Cell
FC50
Hydrogen supply

Traffic Voltage Converter Electronic Load


Light VC100 EL200
TL10

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Solutions 2 Set-up of a fuel cell power supply C.6

Task:

In this experiment a grid-independent power supply is assembled and examined. We


examine the parasitic load and the available power of the entire system as a function of the
stack current.

Execution:

1 Set-up
When setting up and starting the equipment, follow the instructions provided in
section A: Component Descriptions for the individual components, especially
the safety instructions.
During experiments, ensure the area has adequate ventilation and keep away
from sources of ignition.
1.1 Power to operate the FC50 Fuel Cell module will be provided by the VC100 Voltage
Converter. Use the provided 3-pin cable to connect the Parasitic Load output on the
VC100 Voltage Converter to the 12V= DC power input on the FC50 Fuel Cell.
1.2 On the front panel of the EL200 Electronic Load ensure the toggle switch is OFF. Use
the AC power cord to connect the EL200 to a source of AC power; then turn on the
main power switch located behind the EL200 front panel.
1.3 Use two short test leads to connect the FC50 with the EL200, paying attention to the
polarity.
1.4 Use two test leads to additionally connect the FC50 with the input of the VC100, paying
attention to the polarity.
1.5 Use two medium test leads to connect Available Power on the VC100 with the TL10
traffic light, paying attention to the polarity. Place the toggle switch on the front panel of
the TL10 in its middle position.
1.6 Attach the hydrogen supply quick-coupler to the FC50. Connect the 9-pin plug of the
hydrogen supply’s solenoid valve to the H2 SUPPLY connector on the FC50.
1.7 If you want to use the provided software program to help perform the experiment, make
the appropriate connections now. You will find instructions in section A.3 Fuel Cell
Module FC50 under the heading “Start-up” and in section A.7 Control Software.

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Solutions 3 Set-up of a fuel cell power supply C.6

2 Start-up
Start each component as directed.
2.1 Hydrogen supply:
To start your hydrogen supply, refer to sections A.8, A.9 or A.10 of the
Component Descriptions, as appropriate for the supply you are using.
2.2 Electronic load EL200:
Ensure the 10-turn potentiometer is set to zero. Then turn ON the toggle switch on the
front panel.
2.3 FC50 software:
If you want to use the provided software program to assist with the experiment, start
the FC50 software on your PC and select experiment C.6. Wait until the program
requests you to press the FC50 START button. You will find instructions in section A.3
Fuel Cell Module FC50 under the heading “Start-up” and in section A.7 Control
Software.
2.4 Fuel cell FC50:
Ensure the fan control knob is at AUTO. Set the main switch to ON and press the
START button. After completing a system test, the green OPERATION light comes on
and the FC50 is ready for use. If an error occurs, the error code will appear in the
H2 Flow display. You will find descriptions of the errors in section A.3 Fuel Cell Module
FC50 under the heading “Error Messages and Causes”.
2.5 Voltage converter VC100:
The module starts automatically. When voltage is applied at the VC100 input, a
constant 12 V appears at the Available Power output. During start-up, when no voltage
is applied at its input, the internal battery temporarily provides 12 V at the Parasitic
Load output.

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Solutions 4 Set-up of a fuel cell power supply C.6

3 Grid-independent fuel cell system for traffic light supply


3.1 For these measurements, the fuel cell should be at a temperature of 40 °C. You can
reach this temperature by loading the fuel cell for a few minutes with a current of
approximately 5 A. Using the potentiometer of the EL200, increase the load current
until the Current display on the FC50 shows approximately 5 amperes. To further
cause stack temperature to rise, turn the fan control knob on the FC50 so the Fan
Power display indicates 10%.
After the temperature reaches 40 °C, ensure the load potentiometer is turned back to
zero and set fan control knob to AUTO.
3.2 For this part of the test leave the TL10 traffic light switch in its middle position, so it
consumes no power. Then record the displayed FC50 and VC100 values in the
following table.

Measured
Size value
Parasitic load Pself 5.20 W
Stack voltage Vstack 7.6 V
Stack current Istack 1.03 A
Because of experimental technique and prior condition of the fuel
cell, students’ measured values may differ from the example
values given here.

3.3 Although no power is taken from the Available Power output of the VC100, the fuel cell
is producing a current (see Current display on the FC50).
Where is this power being used? Mention at least two consumers.
Since the fuel cell system is operating as grid-independent, power is needed to operate the
auxiliary devices of the fuel cell. Thus the fuel cell, in addition to its Available Power output,
must always supply a basic load.
The basic load is divided among different consumers. These include the control board, solenoid
valve, fans, displays and lights and various losses (including voltage converter, cables, etc.)

© Heliocentris - Energizing education


Solutions 5 Set-up of a fuel cell power supply C.6

3.4 Compare the parasitic load PSelf indicated by the VC100 with the stack power Pstack =
Vstack · Istack, which is being generated by the fuel cell.
Explain the difference of these values.
What is the actual power consumed by the entire system?
The fuel cell stack has to supply the system with a power of
Pstack = 7.6V × 1.03A = 7.8W.
But the VC100 indicates PSelf = 5.2 W only. A cause for this difference is the position of the
measuring instrument in the circuit. The VC100 measures only the power used by the FC50..
Since however between the stack and the internal requirement measurement of the VC100
consumers and/or losses already occur, the two powers differ. Before the internal requirement
measurement, losses already occur during the voltage conversion, during the current
measurement in the FC50 and in the cables. The control board of the VC100 and its displays
are further consumers.
Since these losses and consumers are also part of the fuel cell system, the actual internal
requirement of the system is equal to the stack power determined above.

3.5 In the following part the internal requirement Pself of the FC50, and the available power
Pusable of the traffic light are measured during the different traffic light phases. Switch
the toggle switch on the front panel of the TL10 to AUTO (lower position). Record the
displayed values of the VC100 in the following table of measured values.
Note: Because of the short duration of traffic light phases, it may be necessary to
repeat some of the measurements.

Measured values
Traffic light phase Pself (W) Pusable (W)
Green 5.25 0.90
Yellow 5.39 4.00
Red 5.26 3.00
Red-yellow 5.40 7.10
Because of experimental technique and prior condition of the fuel
cell, students’ measured values may differ from the example
values given here.

© Heliocentris - Energizing education


Solutions 6 Set-up of a fuel cell power supply C.6

3.6 If you are not making further measurements with the system, proceed to shut down
and switch off the system as follows:
• On the EL200, turn the potentiometer to zero, set the toggle switch to OFF, and turn
off the main power switch behind the front panel.
• On the FC50, turn the fan control knob to AUTO and turn the main switch OFF.
• Follow the correct procedure to shut down your hydrogen supply, as described in
sections A.8, A.9 or A.10 as appropriate.
• Remove the hydrogen supply from the FC50 by opening the quick-coupler.
3.7 Compare the internal requirement Pself with the available power Pusable for each phase of
the light and describe the differences between phases.
The available power Pusable varies depending upon traffic light phase. That is, for each traffic
light color the traffic light module presents a different load. The internal requirement changes
little, indicating that the FC50 has a number of consumers which are load-independent.
If we compare the powers of the individual traffic light phases, we see that the ratio of available
power to internal requirement varies widely. For example, in the "green" phase the internal
power consumption is nearly six times as high as the power to the light. In the "red-yellow"
phase however the internal consumption is smaller than the power to the light.

3.8 At which measuring point does the fuel cell system work most efficiently and what
conclusions can you draw from this?
Justify your statements and refer if necessary to questions already answered.
The fuel cell system works at the traffic light phase "red-yellow" most efficiently, since the used
power in relation to the internal requirement is highest here.
In 3.3 we determined that a basic system load is always present, independent of the available
power. Therefore it is impractical to load a fuel cell system lightly (at low power) particularly if
this load is less than the basic system load.

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Solutions 7 Set-up of a fuel cell power supply C.6

4 Determination of the parasitic load characteristic of a fuel cell system


4.1 For the determination of the parasitic load characteristic, the traffic light module is not
needed. Set the toggle switch on the front panel of the TL10 to its middle position
(OFF) and remove the test leads between the VC100 and TL10.
4.2 If you want to use the provided software program to assist with this part of the
experiment, you must now switch off the FC50 and start the FC50 software on your
PC. Select the appropriate experiment and wait until the program requests you to press
the FC50 START button.
4.3 The recommended operating temperature is the same as in the previous part, 40 °C. If
the fuel cell has cooled, heat it again as described in 3.1.
4.4 Use the load potentiometer of the EL200 to set in sequence the current values given in
the following table.
Wait for at least 15 s at each current setting before copying the measured values of
stack current Istack stack voltage Vstack, internal requirement Pself and power of the
electronic load Pload into the measured value table.
In each series, for the first measuring point of zero-amperes, you can simply turn the
EL200 toggle switch OFF, to ensure no load is applied to the system.
Note: Although you are adjusting the load current of the EL200, make sure that the pre-
set values and displayed values you record are actually the FC50 stack current Istack.
Also be aware of the automatic safety disconnect at stack currents > 10.5 A.

Nominal Measured values calculated


Istack (A) Istack (A) Vstack (V) Pself (W) Pload (W) Pstack (W)
min 0.99 7.75 5.20 0.00 7.67
2 2.06 7.22 5.32 6.60 14.87
3 3.01 6.85 5.34 12.40 20.62
4 3.96 6.51 5.40 17.10 25.78
5 5.04 6.14 5.51 21.50 30.95
6 6.07 5.95 5.60 25.80 36.12
7 7.05 5.72 5.73 28.90 40.33
8 7.98 5.53 5.91 31.90 44.13
9 8.95 5.34 6.11 33.90 47.79
10 10.00 5.18 6.39 36.40 51.80
Because of experimental technique and prior condition of the fuel cell, students’ measured values may differ from
the example values given here.

© Heliocentris - Energizing education


Solutions 8 Set-up of a fuel cell power supply C.6

4.5 If you are not making further measurements with the system, proceed to shut down
and switch off the system as described in 3.3.
4.6 Transfer the function Pself = f(Istack) onto the diagram. Transfer in addition the
appropriate measured values from the table in 4.4 to the following diagram and
describe briefly the behavior of the characteristic.

Internal power requirement of the fuel cell system


8

7
Power Pself (W)

4
0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
Stack current Istack (A)

The characteristic of the internal requirement of the fuel cell system as a function of stack
current smaller than 1 A is not defined. It rises continuously over the considered range, having
an upward gradient with increasing current.

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Solutions 9 Set-up of a fuel cell power supply C.6

4.7 The internal requirement of the fuel cell system can be attributed to different peripheral
devices (see 3.3). These internal consumers can be divided into two groups.
Identify and describe this division on the basis the characteristic curve as described in
4.6 and identify at least one consumer in each group.
The internal requirement of the fuel cell can be divided into a fixed and a variable portion. The
fixed portion corresponds to the basic load, thus the part of the internal requirement which must
be always supplied. When no available power is delivered, this portion, is measurable. In this
fuel cell system the fixed portion of the internal requirement is 5.2 W which includes the control
board, solenoid valve and displays.
The cooling fans are responsible for the variable portion of the internal requirement. The greater
the stack current, the more air is needed for the electro-chemical reaction and for the cooling of
the stack. Because the air is provided by the cooling fans, the power to the fans increases with
increasing load current.

4.8 Compute the stack powers Pstack in the table in 4.4. Transfer onto the diagram values
from the table in 4.4 showing the difference between usable power and the calculated
power produced at the stack. Draw the characteristics Pstack = f(Istack) and Pload = f(Istack).
Note: The available power corresponds to the EL200 load Pload.

Stack power – Usable power comparison


60

50
Power P (W)

40

30

20

10
Usable power
Stack power
0
0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
Stack current Istack (A)

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Solutions 10 Set-up of a fuel cell power supply C.6

4.9 Describe and explain the process of the characteristics in diagram 4.8.
Consider the two characteristics with the internal requirement characteristic in diagram
4.6 and explain the observed deviations.
Both characteristics in diagram 4.8 have a positive upward gradient, i.e. with increasing stack
current the power also increases. The difference between the characteristics corresponds to the
power used within the system. Since power is always used, to operate the peripheral devices
the stack power curve always lies above the available power curve.
The difference corresponds to the power consumption of the fuel cell system determined in 4.6.
Since the internal requirement with rising current increases, the curves in 4.8 diverge.
If one computes the difference between stack power and available power, this deviates from the
measured internal requirement. The reasons are already described in 3.4: losses and
consumers between the stack current/voltage measurement and the internal requirement
measurement. In addition even greater losses occur during voltage conversion in the VC100.

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Solutions 11 Set-up of a fuel cell power supply C.6

5 Determination of the losses of the potential transformer


5.1 In this part of the experiment the losses which arise during the DC voltage
transformation in the VC100 are determined. The EL200 must be attached to the
Available Power output of the VC100. Switch the FC50 and EL200 off before you
change these connections. Make sure that the potentiometer of the EL200 is set to
zero.
5.2 The recommended operating temperature is the same as in the previous part, 40 °C. If
the fuel cell has cooled, heat it again as described in 3.1.
5.3 Use the load potentiometer of the EL200 to set in sequence the current values given in
the following table.
Wait for at least 15 s at each current setting before copying the measured values of
stack current Istack, and power of the electronic load Pload to the measured value table.
In each series, for the first measuring point of zero-amperes, you can simply turn the
EL200 toggle switch OFF, to ensure no load is applied to the system.
Carefully increase the stack current Istack greater than 8 A and note the behavior of the
system.
Note: Although you are adjusting the load current of the EL200, make sure that the pre-
set values and displayed values you record are actually the FC50 stack current Istack.
Also be aware of the automatic safety disconnect at stack currents > 10.5 A.

Nominal Measured values


Istack (A) Istack (A) Pload (W)
min 1.00 0.00
2 2.04 5.30
3 2.99 9.70
4 4.06 14.10
5 5.05 17.90
6 6.01 21.10
7 7.04 23.90
8 7.93 25.10
9 - -
10 - -
Because of experimental technique and prior condition of
the fuel cell, students’ measured values may differ from
the example values given here.

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Solutions 12 Set-up of a fuel cell power supply C.6

5.4 If you are not making further measurements with the system, proceed to shut down
and switch off the system as described in 3.6.
5.5 Transfer the measured values from the table in 5.3 to draw a characteristic curve for
the available power of the fuel cell system with voltage converter. Also transfer the
characteristic curve for available power without transducer losses from the diagram in
4.8.
Note: The usable power corresponds to the EL200 load power.

Converter Losses
60

Usable power without converter


50
Usable power with converter

40
Power P (W)

30

20

10

0
0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
Stack current Istack (A)

5.6 Describe and explain the process of the characteristic curves. Describe the differences
between the curves, and refer to the diagram in 4.8.
The available power with-converter curve lies below without-converter. The difference between
curves corresponds to the losses which occur during the voltage conversion. Increasing
conversion losses can be seen in the divergence of the curves with increasing currents.
These converter losses are added to those which are apparent in diagram 4.8.

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Solutions 13 Set-up of a fuel cell power supply C.6

5.7 What is the function of a voltage converter in a fuel cell system; is it possible to operate
without it?
The voltage converter produces from the load-sensitive (not constant) voltage of the fuel cell a
constant output voltage. In this system Vout = 12 V. This voltage is necessary for the self-supply
of the FC50, and for the supply of external devices.
Without voltage conversion an external supply voltage is necessary for the operation of the fuel
cell system, since the control and other peripheral devices can operate only with a constant
voltage. Additionally the applications of a fuel cell system would be limited, since for many
electrical devices a constant output voltage is needed.

5.8 Summarize your conclusions from this experiment.


How can one increase the available power of a fuel cell system during continuous
stack power? Suggest at least two optimization possibilities.
The stack power can be divided into the available power and the internal requirement of the
system. To optimize the available power the internal requirement must be minimized.
There are optimization possibilities with all peripheral devices and losses. In particular:
• Control
• Fan Power
• LED displays (would not exist in industrial applications)
• Transducer losses
• Line losses

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Solutions 1 Efficiency of a fuel cell power supply C.7

Required devices:

Description Item
I 630
Hydrogen supply (alternates) II 642
III 652
Fuel cell FC50 610
Electronic load EL200 620
Voltage converter VC100 621

Arrange the devices as in the following diagram:

Fuel Cell
FC50
Hydrogen supply

Voltage Converter Electronic Load


VC100 EL200

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Solutions 2 Efficiency of a fuel cell power supply C.7

Task:

The goal of this experiment is to determine the efficiency of a grid-independent fuel cell
system. The terms system efficiency and stack efficiency are explained and measured for the
experimental system. In addition the effect of parasitic load on the system efficiency is
examined.

Execution:

1 Set-up
When setting up and starting the equipment, follow the instructions provided in
section A: Component Descriptions for the individual components, especially
the safety instructions.
During experiments, ensure the area has adequate ventilation and keep away
from sources of ignition.
1.1 Power to operate the FC50 Fuel Cell module will be provided by the VC100 Voltage
Converter. Use the provided 3-pin cable to connect the Parasitic Load output on the
VC100 Voltage Converter to the 12V= DC power input on the FC50 Fuel Cell.
1.2 On the front panel of the EL200 Electronic Load ensure the toggle switch is OFF. Use
the AC power cord to connect the EL200 to a source of AC power; then turn on the
main power switch located behind the EL200 front panel.
1.3 Use two short test leads to connect the FC50 with the EL200, paying attention to the
polarity.
1.4 Use two test leads to additionally connect the FC50 with the input of the VC100, paying
attention to the polarity.
1.5 Attach the hydrogen supply quick-coupler to the FC50. Connect the 9-pin plug of the
hydrogen supply’s solenoid valve to the H2 SUPPLY connector on the FC50.
1.6 If you want to use the provided software program to help perform the experiment, make
the appropriate connections now. You will find instructions in section A.3 Fuel Cell
Module FC50 under the heading “Start-up” and in section A.7 Control Software.

© Heliocentris - Energizing education


Solutions 3 Efficiency of a fuel cell power supply C.7

2 Start-up
Start each component as directed.
2.1 Hydrogen supply:
To start your hydrogen supply, refer to sections A.8, A.9 or A.10 of the
Component Descriptions, as appropriate for the supply you are using.
2.2 Electronic load EL200:
Ensure the 10-turn potentiometer is set to zero. Then turn ON the toggle switch on the
front panel.
2.3 FC50 software:
If you want to use the provided software program to assist with the experiment, start
the FC50 software on your PC and select experiment C.7. Wait until the program
requests you to press the FC50 START button. You will find instructions in section A.3
Fuel Cell Module FC50 under the heading “Start-up” and in section A.7 Control
Software.
2.4 Fuel cell FC50:
Ensure the fan control knob is at AUTO. Set the main switch to ON and press the
START button. After completing a system test, the green OPERATION light comes on
and the FC50 is ready for use. If an error occurs, the error code will appear in the
H2 Flow display. You will find descriptions of the errors in section A.3 Fuel Cell Module
FC50 under the heading “Error Messages and Causes”.
2.5 Voltage converter VC100:
The module starts automatically. When voltage is applied at its input, a constant 12 V
appears at the Available Power output. If no voltage is applied at its input, the internal
battery provides 12 V at the Parasitic Load output.

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Solutions 4 Efficiency of a fuel cell power supply C.7

3 Data acquisition
3.1 For these measurements, the fuel cell should be at a temperature of 40 °C. You can
reach this temperature by loading the fuel cell for a few minutes with a current of
approximately 5 A. Using the potentiometer of the EL200, increase the load current
until the Current display on the FC50 shows approximately 5 amperes. To further
cause stack temperature to rise, turn the fan control knob on the FC50 so the Fan
Power display indicates 10%.
After the temperature reaches 40 °C, ensure the load potentiometer is turned back to
zero and set fan control knob to AUTO.
3.2 Use the load potentiometer of the EL200 to set in sequence the current values given in
the following table. Wait for at least 60 s at each current setting before copying the
measured values of stack current Istack, stack voltage Vstack and hydrogen flow rate V&H 2 
to the measured value table.
In each series, for the first measuring point of zero-amperes, you can simply turn the
EL200 toggle switch OFF, to ensure no load is applied to the system.
Note: For reaching even hydrogen concentration at all membranes it is necessary to
purge the hydrogen channels of the fuel cell. This takes place automatically and for a
brief time visibly increases the hydrogen flow rate. If a purging occurs during the
measurement, you should restart the 60 s waiting period for that operating point. The
previously measured values are still valid.

Note: Although you are adjusting the load current of the EL200, make sure that the pre-
set values and displayed values you record are actually the FC50 stack current Istack.
Also be aware of the automatic safety shut-down at stack currents > 10.5 A.

© Heliocentris - Energizing education


Solutions 5 Efficiency of a fuel cell power supply C.7

Nominal Measured values


Istack (A) Istack (A) Vstack (V) V&H 2 (ml/min) Pload (W)
min 1.06 7.64 85 0.00
1.2 1.20 7.48 94 0.60
1.5 1.52 7.20 115 2.60
2.0 2.03 6.82 148 5.40
2.5 2.51 6.72 182 8.20
3.0 3.00 6.51 215 10.70
4.0 4.02 6.15 283 15.40
6.0 5.97 5.82 417 24.20
8.0 7.95 5.53 557 31.60
10.0 9.97 5.16 697 36.90
Because of experimental technique and prior condition of the fuel cell, students’ measured
values may differ from the example values given here.

3.3 If you are not making further measurements with the system, proceed to shut down
and switch off the system as follows:
• On the EL200, turn the potentiometer to zero, set the toggle switch to OFF, and turn
off the main power switch behind the front panel.
• On the FC50, turn the fan control knob to AUTO and turn the main switch OFF.
• Follow the correct procedure to shut down your hydrogen supply, as described in
sections A.8, A.9 or A.10 as appropriate.
• Remove the hydrogen supply from the FC50 by opening the quick-coupler.

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Solutions 6 Efficiency of a fuel cell power supply C.7

4 Calculation of the overall efficiency


4.1 Using the measured values in 3.2 determine the ratio of delivered power to consumed
power (the overall efficiency) total of this fuel cell system.
Perform an example calculation for a selected measuring point (other than the no-load
operation point) and then calculate all values for the table. Also transfer the delivered
electrical power of the EL200 Pload into the table.
Note: The measured values of the hydrogen flow rate are converted to standard
conditions (0 °C, 1.01325 bar). The lower heating value of hydrogen at standard
conditions is LHV = 10.8 MJ/m3.
Example calculation for the second measuring point (Istack = 1.2 A):
The overall efficiency is the ratio of delivered power (from the entire system) to absorbed power
(from the hydrogen):
Pout,total Pload
ηtotal = =
Pin LHV ⋅ V& H2

0.6 W
ηtotal = = 0.04
MJ ml
10.8 3 × 94
m min

Measured value Calculated


Pload (W) total

0.00 0.00
0.60 0.04
2.60 0.13
5.40 0.20
8.20 0.25
10.70 0.28
15.40 0.30
24.20 0.32
31.60 0.32
36.90 0.29

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Solutions 7 Efficiency of a fuel cell power supply C.7

4.2 Transfer the values from the table in 4.1 to the following diagram and draw the graph of
total = f(Pload).

Overall efficiency
1.0

0.8
total
Efficiency

0.6

0.4

0.2

0.0
0 5 10 15 20 25 30 35 40
Power Pload (W)

4.3 Describe the course of the overall efficiency in the resulting characteristic curve.
What is a favorable power range?
The characteristic curve has a clear positive rise for small powers, beginning in the origin. With
rising power the curve flattens gradually and for large powers has a negative slope. The
maximum is at approximately 25 W, where the efficiency is 32 %.
Because much of the curve is flat the efficiency changes only slightly over a wide range of
powers. Therefore we can declare the favorable power range to be about 10 W to the maximum
for this fuel cell system. The minimum efficiency in this range is about 27 %.

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Solutions 8 Efficiency of a fuel cell power supply C.7

5 Calculation of stack and system efficiency


5.1 Using the appropriate power ratios and the measured values in 3.2 determine the stack
efficiency stack and the system efficiency sys the fuel cell system.
Perform an example calculation for a selected measuring point (other than the no-load
operation point) and then calculate all values for the table. Also transfer the delivered
electrical power of the EL200 Pload into the table.
Note: The measured values of the hydrogen flow rate are converted to standard
conditions (0 °C, 1.01325 bar). The lower heating value of hydrogen at standard
conditions is LHV = 10.8 MJ/m3.
Example calculation for the second measuring point (Istack = 1.2 A):
The stack efficiency stack is the ratio of delivered power (from the stack) to absorbed power
(over the hydrogen):
Pout,stack Vstack ⋅ Istack
7.48 V × 1.2 A
ηstack = = = = 0.53 .
Pin H2LHV ⋅ V& MJ
10.8 3 × 94
ml
m min
7KHV\VWHPHIILFLHQF\ sys is the ratio of delivered power (from the entire system) to delivered
stack power:

Pout,total Pload 0.6 W


ηsys = = = = 0.07 .
Pout,stack Vstack ⋅ Istack 7.48 V × 1.2 A

Measured
value Calculated
Pload (W) stack sys

0.00 0.53 0.00


0.60 0.53 0.07
2.60 0.53 0.24
5.40 0.52 0.39
8.20 0.51 0.49
10.70 0.50 0.55
15.40 0.49 0.62
24.20 0.46 0.70
31.60 0.44 0.72
36.90 0.41 0.72

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Solutions 9 Efficiency of a fuel cell power supply C.7

5.2 Transfer the values from the table in 5.1 to the following diagram and draw the graphs
of stack = f(Pload) and sys = f(Pload).

Stack and system efficiency


1,0
Stack
stack

System
sys
0,8
Efficiency

0,6

0,4

0,2

0,0
0 5 10 15 20 25 30 35 40
Power Pload (W)

5.3 Describe the characteristic curves of stack and system efficiency and compare them
with one another.
Where do the optimum operating points of the fuel cell system lie, related to each
efficiency?
7KHVWDFNHIILFLHQF\ stack reaches its maximum in the no-load operation (Pload = 0 W), because
here the internal requirement of the system is covered by the stack (see experiment C.5). That
is, the entire curve is shifted to the left, with the zero point lying in the negative range. In the
measured range a constant loss is apparent, thus the optimal operating point occurs at low
power.
The system efficiency sys behaves the opposite: it reaches its maximum and optimum
operating point at maximum power. The system efficiency curve rises over the entire measured
range, however with evident flattening at high power.

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Solutions 10 Efficiency of a fuel cell power supply C.7

5.4 What is the relationship between system, stack and overall efficiency?
Demonstrate this relationship using the individual efficiencies in 4.1 and 5.1 for any
measuring point except the no-load point.
The overall efficiency is the product of the stack and the system efficiency:
total  stack • sys.
This can be demonstrated from the second measuring point (Istack = 1.2 A). With the values for
stack and system efficiency from 5.1 and the above equation the total efficiency results:
total = 0.53 × 0.07 = 0.04.
This calculated value agrees with the value determined in 4.1.

5.5 Consider which losses affect the individual efficiencies.


Which of the individual losses are particular to a laboratory system and thus would not
occur in an actual grid-independent power supply?
Since the overall efficiency depends on stack and system efficiency, relevant losses can be
divided as:
All losses which affect the stack efficiency (see experiment C.5).
All other losses belonging to the system which affect the system efficiency (see experiment
C.6).
For a laboratory system specific losses include those resulting from the collection and
visualization of measured data. In addition the digital displays and lighting and integrated
measuring instruments are part of a laboratory system. (Safety monitoring of the system is
another matter.) In addition a power supply fuel cell system would be compactly built, reducing
internal line losses.

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Solutions 1 Fuel cell application I: Remote traffic light C.8

Required devices:

Description Item
I 630
Hydrogen supply (alternates) II 642
III 652
Fuel cell FC50 610
Electronic load EL200 620
Voltage converter VC100 621
Traffic light TL10 622

Arrange the devices as in the following diagram:

Fuel Cell
FC50
Hydrogen supply

Traffic Voltage Converter Electronic Load


Light VC100 EL200
TL10

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Solutions 2 Fuel cell application I: Remote traffic light C.8

Task:

When using a fuel cell system as a stand-alone power supply it is necessary to anticipate
fuel consumption over a planned interval. Knowing the amount of fuel, the required storage
volume can be computed. Using the example of a traffic light, this experiment attempts to
determine its fuel requirement for a certain period and the needed storage volume. In
addition, different hydrogen storage methods are compared, and a further comparison made
with battery operation.

Execution:

1 Set-up
When setting up and starting the equipment, follow the instructions provided in
section A: Component Descriptions for the individual components, especially
the safety instructions.
During experiments, ensure the area has adequate ventilation and keep away
from sources of ignition.
1.1 Power to operate the FC50 Fuel Cell module will be provided by the VC100 Voltage
Converter. Use the provided 3-pin cable to connect the Parasitic Load output on the
VC100 Voltage Converter to the 12V= DC power input on the FC50 Fuel Cell.
1.2 On the front panel of the EL200 Electronic Load ensure the toggle switch is OFF. Use
the AC power cord to connect the EL200 to a source of AC power; then turn on the
main power switch located behind the EL200 front panel.
1.3 Use two short test leads to connect the FC50 with the EL200, paying attention to the
polarity.
1.4 Use two test leads to additionally connect the FC50 with the input of the VC100, paying
attention to the polarity.
1.5 Use two short test leads to connect Available Power on the VC100 with the TL10 traffic
light, paying attention to the polarity. Place the toggle switch on the front panel of the
TL10 in its middle position.
1.6 Attach the hydrogen supply quick-coupler to the FC50. Connect the 9-pin plug of the
hydrogen supply’s solenoid valve to the H2 SUPPLY connector on the FC50.
1.7 It is necessary to use the provided software program to perform the experiment. Make
the appropriate connections now. You will find instructions in section A.3 Fuel Cell
Module FC50 under the heading “Start-up” and in section A.7 Control Software.

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Solutions 3 Fuel cell application I: Remote traffic light C.8

2 Start-up
Start each component as directed.
2.1 Hydrogen supply:
To start your hydrogen supply, refer to sections A.8, A.9 or A.10 of the
Component Descriptions, as appropriate for the supply you are using.
2.2 Electronic load EL200:
Ensure the 10-turn potentiometer is set to zero. Then turn ON the toggle switch on the
front panel.
2.3 FC50 software:
You must use the provided software program to assist with this experiment. Start the
FC50 software on your PC and select experiment C.8. Wait until the program requests
you to press the FC50 START button. You will find instructions in section A.3 Fuel Cell
Module FC50 under the heading “Start-up” and in section A.7 Control Software.
2.4 Fuel cell FC50:
Ensure the fan control knob is at AUTO. Set the main switch to ON and press the
START button. After completing a system test, the green OPERATION light comes on
and the FC50 is ready for use. If an error occurs, the error code will appear in the
H2 Flow display. You will find descriptions of the errors in section A.3 Fuel Cell Module
FC50 under the heading “Error Messages and Causes”.
2.5 Voltage converter VC100:
The module starts automatically. When voltage is applied at its input, a constant 12 V
appears at the Available Power output. If no voltage is applied at its input, the internal
battery provides 12 V at the Parasitic Load output.

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Solutions 4 Fuel cell application I: Remote traffic light C.8

3 Data acquisition
3.1 For these measurements, the fuel cell should be at a temperature of 40 °C. You can
reach this temperature by loading the fuel cell for a few minutes with a current of
approximately 5 A. Use the control software to set a load current of approximately 5
amperes. To further cause stack temperature to rise, set the FC50 fan power at 10%.
After the temperature reaches 40 °C, the software switches off the EL200 and returns
the fan power to AUTO. The system is ready for use.
3.2 With the help of the FC50 software hydrogen consumption and supplied power can be
determined. Any arbitrary load could be attached to the Available power terminals of
the VC100. However the following measurement is done with the TL10 Traffic Light in
order to make the results of measurement consistent.
Data for ten traffic light intervals will be taken. The TL10 front panel toggle switch must
be set to AUTO. The software will read the instantaneous values of the output and the
hydrogen flow rate. Subsequently, the consumption measurement is started and
stopped after exactly ten cycles. The indicated instantaneous values are integrated
(also visibly) at a 200 ms sampling rate in a named tabular data file. At the end of the
measurement the integrated values are automatically written the end of the table.
All measured values necessary for the evaluation are stored in the named file.
3.3 If you are not making further measurements with the system, proceed to shut down
and switch off the system as follows:
• On the EL200, turn the potentiometer to zero, set the toggle switch to OFF, and turn
off the main power switch behind the front panel.
• On the FC50, turn the fan control knob to AUTO and turn the main switch OFF.
• Follow the correct procedure to shut down your hydrogen supply, as described in
sections A.8, A.9 or A.10 as appropriate.
• Remove the hydrogen supply from the FC50 by opening the quick-coupler.

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Solutions 5 Fuel cell application I: Remote traffic light C.8

4 Evaluation of the measured values


4.1 To evaluate the measurements open the tab-separated data file in a spreadsheet
program such as MS Excel.
4.2 Using these tabular measured values make a power-time diagram of the available
power over a traffic light interval.
Mark in the diagram the individual traffic light phases and read the duration and the
power of each individual phase.
Determine with the data of the measured value table the duration and the average
power of a traffic light interval Pusable .

Power demand in a traffic-light cycle

8
Yel Red Red - Yel Green
7

6
Power Pusable (W)

0
32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44
Time (s)

For the individual traffic light phases the following values are observed:
Tyellow = 0.8 s Pyellow = 4 W
Tred = 4.9 s Pred =3W
Tred-yellow = 0.6 s Pred-yellow = 6.9 W
Tgreen = 4.6 s Pgreen = 0.9 W.
The duration of a cycle is:
Tcycle  7 10.9 s.
The mean power Pusable can be determined by a summation of the individual measured values:
n
1
Pusable =
n
⋅ ∑ P = 2.36 W .
i =1
i

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Solutions 6 Fuel cell application I: Remote traffic light C.8

4.3 Compute the performed electrical work Wusable of the entire traffic light interval using the
mean power Pusable . Also compute the performed electrical work using the sum of
individual phases.
The performed electrical work can be computed:
1. With the help of the mean power Pusable and the cycle time Tcycle:
Wusable = Pusable • Tcycle = 25.7 Ws.
2. Calculating the individual electrical work of each traffic light phase:
Wusable = Wyellow + Wred + Wred-yellow + Wgreen = Pyellow • Tyellow +… = 26.2 Ws.

4.4 Compare the computed values in 4.3 with the noted value over ten measurements from
the measured value file.
Explain the difference and describe the advantages of performing the measurement
over several intervals.
The value from the measured value file is 261.5 Ws, thus 26.15 Ws work over one cycle.
The deviations result from the different accuracy of the various computation variants.
The measured values over several intervals results in a more meaningful average value of the
power used and decreases the error in the interval duration. The measurement of the electrical
work this way is the most accurate.
The two values in 4.3 for the performed electrical work differ since with the computation using
the average power Pusable all measured values of the cycle were considered. Thus the actual
average value of the power was obtained.
Reading the electrical power and the duration of the traffic light phases off the diagram
produces unavoidable errors. Determining the performed electrical work is quite inaccurate over
the individual traffic light phases, however this method is sometimes necessary.

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Solutions 7 Fuel cell application I: Remote traffic light C.8

4.5 Produce a diagram of V&H 2 = f(t) over the same time interval as the diagram in 4.2 and
compare them.
How do you explain the differences of the courses of the curves?

Hydrogen flow rate in a traffic-light cycle


140
Hydrogen flow rate VH2 (ml/min)

120

100

80

60

40

20

0
32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44
Time (s)

In the diagram of 4.2 the electrical power of the traffic light changes in discrete jumps as the
individual consumers (LEDs in this instance) use constant power. However the hydrogen flow
rate shows a continuous process since the fuel cell (within a limited range) exhibits a capacitive
character: the stack sees the change in load (corresponding to the hydrogen flow rate)
occurring over a certain time. The convergence of the taken-up and the available power takes
place gradually. However an average value can be determined.

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Solutions 8 Fuel cell application I: Remote traffic light C.8

5 Interpretation of hydrogen reservoirs


5.1 In the following, we will use measured values to specify different hydrogen reservoir
systems for a building-site traffic light.
The building-site traffic light is to operate for two weeks. It will need hydrogen at twice
the rate of the FC50 system.
How much hydrogen will be needed for continuous operation?
A hydrogen demand of 192.46 ml was recorded over 111 s (see the measured value file).
Converted to 2 weeks and double consumption, the total requirement of hydrogen would be 4.2
3
m.

5.2 To store the hydrogen volume computed in 5.1 three different possibilities exist:
compressed gas storage, liquid gas storage and metal hydride storage.
Compute volumes and mass of the different storage methods for the necessary
hydrogen.
Then examine the results regarding their targeted application from a technical and
economic viewpoint.
For the computation use the following volumetric and gravimetric memory densities for
hydrogen:
Compressed gas storage (350 bar): 22.3 g+/L, 40 g+/kg
Liquid gas storage (20 K): 45 g+/L, 112 g+/kg
Metal hydride storage (298 K): 63 g+/L, 14 g+/kg.
With the density of hydrogen at VWDQGDUGFRQGLWLRQV
3
+ = 0.0899 kg/m the following mass
results from the hydrogen demand calculated in 5.1:
m+  + • V+ = 377.2 g.
Thus the volumes and masses can be computed for each storage method:
Compressed gas storage: 16.9 L, 9.43 kg
Liquid gas storage: 8.4 L, 3.4 kg
Metal hydride storage: 6.0 L, 26.9 kg.
Depending upon storage type, volume- and mass-referred storage densities vary substantially.
The most favorable is liquid gas storage. Both values are below those for compressed gas
storage. Volume-referred is more than twice as high storage density For metal hydride storage,
the volume density is more than twice that of compressed gas, but the mass density is only
about a tenth of liquid gas. If one made a selection according to these criteria only, the choice
would be liquid gas storage.
This storage method is however very complex and energy-intensive because of the extremely
low temperatures, incurring high acquisition and operating costs. Metal hydride storage is
simple to handle, but compared with compressed gas storage has higher initial costs.
Considering these criteria one would not choose liquid gas storage, but depending upon priority
of costs and size, would choose the compressed gas or metal hydride storage.

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Solutions 9 Fuel cell application I: Remote traffic light C.8

5.3 A conventional building-site traffic light operates with a lead storage battery. It has a
volumetric memory density of 75 Wh/l, and gravimetric memory density of 30 Wh/kg.
Compute the volume and mass of a lead storage battery that could store the same
energy as the hydrogen storage in 5.2.
Compare the result with the calculation from 5.2. What should be considered in this
comparison?
3
Computing the energy with the lower heat value LHV = 3 kWh/m as determined in 5.1, we
obtain:
E+ = LHV • V+ = 30.47 kWh.
With the given memory densities, a lead storage battery requires a volume of
Volbattery = 470 L and a mass of 1016 kg.
It is evident in this result that accumulators (batteries) have a significantly smaller power density
(memory density) than fuel cells. It is thus desirable to use fuel cell systems both from the
volume, and from the mass considerations.
In this comparison however only the fuel cell storage, was considered, not the fuel cell stack
(including system components). However in applications with large storage capacities, only a
small portion of the volume and the mass would be the stack and the comparison would not
change fundamentally.
Additionally cost must also be considered. The accumulators, particularly lead storage batteries
today are still priced more favorably than fuel cell systems. However further developments will
enormously reduce the price of fuel cells in the future making the technology competitive.

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Solutions 1 Fuel cell application II: Fuel cell car C.9

Required devices:

Description Item
I 630
Hydrogen supply (alternates) II 642
III 652
Fuel cell FC50 610
Electronic load EL200 620
Voltage converter VC100 621

Arrange the devices as in the following diagram:

Fuel Cell
FC50
Hydrogen supply

Voltage Converter Electronic Load


VC100 EL200

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Solutions 2 Fuel cell application II: Fuel cell car C.9

Task:

The fuel cell is predicted to have a strong future in the motoring industry. There is
consequently much interest in quickly examining and optimizing the fuel cell for this
application.
In this experiment we examine the behavior of the system using different load profiles and by
extension the use of fuel cells in motor vehicles. The advantages and disadvantages of
various fuels are pointed out.

Execution:

1 Set-up
When setting up and starting the equipment, follow the instructions provided in
section A: Component Descriptions for the individual components, especially
the safety instructions.
During experiments, ensure the area has adequate ventilation and keep away
from sources of ignition.
1.1 Power to operate the FC50 Fuel Cell module will be provided by the VC100 Voltage
Converter. Use the provided 3-pin cable to connect the Parasitic Load output on the
VC100 Voltage Converter to the 12V= DC power input on the FC50 Fuel Cell.
1.2 On the front panel of the EL200 Electronic Load ensure the toggle switch is OFF. Use
the AC power cord to connect the EL200 to a source of AC power; then turn on the
main power switch located behind the EL200 front panel.
1.3 Use two short test leads to connect the FC50 with the EL200, paying attention to the
polarity.
1.4 Use two test leads to additionally connect the FC50 with the input of the VC100, paying
attention to the polarity.
1.5 Use two short test leads to connect Available Power on the VC100 with the TL10 traffic
light, paying attention to the polarity. Place the toggle switch on the front panel of the
TL10 in its central position.
1.6 Attach the hydrogen supply quick-coupler to the FC50. Connect the 9-pin plug of the
hydrogen supply’s solenoid valve to the H2 SUPPLY connector on the FC50.
1.7 It is necessary to use the provided software program to perform the experiment. Make
the appropriate connections now. You will find instructions in section A.3 Fuel Cell
Module FC50 under the heading “Start-up” and in section A.7 Control Software.

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Solutions 3 Fuel cell application II: Fuel cell car C.9

2 Start-up
Start each component as directed.
2.1 Hydrogen supply:
To start your hydrogen supply, refer to sections A.8, A.9 or A.10 of the
Component Descriptions, as appropriate for the supply you are using.
2.2 Electronic load EL200:
Ensure the 10-turn potentiometer is set to zero. Then turn ON the toggle switch on the
front panel.
2.3 FC50 software:
You must use the provided software program to assist with this experiment. Start the
FC50 software on your PC and select experiment C.9. Wait until the program requests
you to press the FC50 START button. You will find instructions in section A.3 Fuel Cell
Module FC50 under the heading “Start-up” and in section A.7 Control Software.
2.4 Fuel cell FC50:
Ensure the fan control knob is at AUTO. Set the main switch to ON and press the
START button. After completing a system test, the green OPERATION light comes on
and the FC50 is ready for use. If an error occurs, the error code will appear in the
H2 Flow display. You will find descriptions of the errors in section A.3 Fuel Cell Module
FC50 under the heading “Error Messages and Causes”.
2.5 Voltage converter VC100:
The module starts automatically. When voltage is applied at its input, a constant 12 V
appears at the Available Power output. If no voltage is applied at its input, the internal
battery provides 12 V at the Parasitic Load output.

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Solutions 4 Fuel cell application II: Fuel cell car C.9

3 Data acquisition
3.1 For these measurements, the fuel cell should be at a temperature of 40 °C. You can
reach this temperature by loading the fuel cell for a few minutes with a current of
approximately 5 A. Use the control software to set a load current of approximately 5
amperes. To further cause stack temperature to rise, set the FC50 fan power at 10%.
After the temperature reaches 40 °C, the software switches off the EL200 and returns
the fan power to AUTO. The system is ready for use.
3.2 The "FC50 software" now automatically runs through two different load profiles. As a
basis for comparison, the system operates as long in each profile as it takes for the
EL200 to consume 2500 Ws. Additionally the consumed hydrogen volume for each
load profile is indicated.
The first profile represents a constant load within the range of the efficiency optimum.
For comparison a repeating changing-load cycle will execute, consisting of full load,
partial load and no-load operation sections. The delivered power and the associated
hydrogen flow rate can be seen in the diagram over the time. Both tabular values are
additionally stored at 200 ms intervals in a measured value file. At the conclusion of
both load profiles the hydrogen volumes used in each case and the performed
electrical work of the table are appended. These data are the basis of the following
evaluation.
3.3 If you are not making further measurements with the system, proceed to shut down
and switch off the system as follows:
• On the EL200, turn the potentiometer to zero, set the toggle switch to OFF, and turn
off the main power switch behind the front panel.
• On the FC50, turn the fan control knob to AUTO and turn the main switch OFF.
• Follow the correct procedure to shut down your hydrogen supply, as described in
sections A.8, A.9 or A.10 as appropriate.
• Remove the hydrogen supply from the FC50 by opening the quick-coupler.

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Solutions 5 Fuel cell application II: Fuel cell car C.9

4 Evaluation of the measured values


4.1 To evaluate the measurements open the tab-separated data file in a spreadsheet
program such as MS Excel.
4.2 Compare the consumed hydrogen volume of both load profiles.
What causes the differences, although about the same electrical work was performed?
The hydrogen requirement in the changing-load trials is about three times that in the constant
load trial. Higher consumption results from the lower efficiency, at which the changing-load
system works. That is, more power must be supplied, in order to deliver the same power
(definition of the efficiency). The supplied power corresponds to the hydrogen flow rate from
higher consumption.

4.3 Using the spreadsheet program transfer the collected values to a diagram of the
delivered electrical power Pdel and the hydrogen flow rate V&H 2 over the time t for a load
change cycle.
Describe and justify the processes of both characteristics.

Operation with a changing load


35 700
Pdel
30 V&
H2 600

Flow rate VH2 (ml/min)


Delivered power Pdel (W)

25 500

20 400

15 300

10 200

5 100

0 0
60 65 70 75 80 85 90
Time (s)

The delivered electrical power follows the given rectangle profile. Only in the full load range is a
small rise seen. A gradual "recovering" of the stack voltage occurs after the load change.
The hydrogen flow rate approaches its final value after the load change with PT1-behavior. We
see clearly the capacitive character of the fuel cell. Additionally it is noticeable that the
characteristic has an offset, which is to due to the internal requirement of the system.

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Solutions 6 Fuel cell application II: Fuel cell car C.9

4.4 Compute the efficiency using the delivered (electrical) and supplied (hydrogen) power
for each load range in the changing-load trial. Compare these values with the efficiency
in the constant-load trial.
In which load range does the different hydrogen consumption of each load profile
become particularly clear? What saving potential exists here?
3
If we compute the efficiencies with the lower heat value of hydrogen LHV = 3 kWh/m , we
receive for the individual load ranges (computation see experiments C.5 and C.7):
constant load:  0.35
full load:  0.28
partial load:  0.25
no-load operation:  0.
In the constant-load trial the system works at its efficiency optimum. The efficiencies in the
changing-load trials are always lower, from which the increased consumption noted in 4.2
results.
The different hydrogen requirement of each load profile becomes particularly clear by viewing
the no-load operation section in the changing-load trial: No electrical power is delivered by the
system, although to cover the internal requirement of the system, power (that is, hydrogen)
must be supplied; the efficiency is thus zero. If the system exclusively runs in the no-load
operation, hydrogen is used, but delivers no power.
The system could therefore be optimized by switching it off in the no-load operation. However a
faster start of the system would be necessary, in order to react to sudden load changes.
Further saving potential lies in the improvement of the efficiency. See also experiment C.7.

4.5 What are load profiles good for generally?


Then consider in which connection the used load profiles in the automotive sector
could to be used and justify your answer.
Load profiles are used to simulate the employment of technical devices under different
conditions in line with standard usage. Using a load profile it is possible to compare different
devices with one another in order to find suitable equipment for a certain targeted application.
Use different load profiles to assign an optimal area of operation to equipment or test the
behavior with different modes of operation.
If we refer this experiment to the automotive sector, the constant load enterprise could simulate
a highway trip at constant speed. With this mode of operation the best overall efficiencies can
be achieved by vehicles if the selected speed is not too high. Consequently fuel consumption
would be low.
If one operates an automobile in city traffic, within a short time different loads from no-load to
full load are demanded. This mode of operation corresponds to the previous changing-load trial,
which demands high dynamics from the system. The load cycle could simulate the operation of
a fuel cell vehicle in stop-and-go traffic. The full load section corresponds to starting, the partial
load section brief driving at constant speed, and the no-load operation section corresponds to
waiting, perhaps at a traffic light.

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Solutions 7 Fuel cell application II: Fuel cell car C.9

5 Comparison: Fuel cell – combustion engine


5.1 The fuel cell, in connection with an electric motor, represents a feasible replacement
for the combustion engine (e.g. in the automobile).
Describe the advantages of the combination of fuel cell and electric motor as against
the combustion engine on the basis of energy transformation chains.
Discuss the relevant efficiencies, to which the respective transformation chain is
subject. Which advantages concerning the operating temperature result for the fuel
cell?
In both cases the chemical energy of the fuel is to be converted into mechanical energy to the
drive of the vehicle. In the combustion engine this takes place through the intermediate step of
the thermal energy (warmth), with the fuel cell this occurs through electricity.
The energy transformation chains are subject however to different efficiencies:
The transformation of the chemical energy into electrical with the help of the fuel cell is subject
to the Gibbs efficiency (theoretical electrical efficiency of a fuel cell), which indicates the
R R
relationship of free reaction enthalpy G to the reaction enthalpy H:
∆R G
ηGibbs = .
∆R H
With the usual operating temperature of 50 °C – 120 °C this theoretical efficiency is above 90%
(for gaseous product water) and decreases linearly with rising temperature.
The energy transformation in the combustion engine is subject to the Carnot efficiency, which is
computed from the upper process temperature T1 and lower process temperature T2:
T
ηCarnot = 1 − 2 .
T1
The higher this temperature difference, the higher is the efficiency. However the breakdown of
materials limits the temperature spread and a maximum Carnot efficiency of 40 % – 50 %
results.
The Carnot efficiency is like the Gibbs efficiency only a theoretical value, thus a maximally
attainable upper limit. Still all losses arising in the system must be taken off from this maximum
value. There the Gibbs efficiency like the Carnot efficiency, lies in the use of the fuel cell
technology that has the potential of about twice as large an initial efficiency.
Additionally the materials used by fuel cells lie in a more favorable operating temperature range,
substantially reducing the thermal stress.

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Solutions 8 Fuel cell application II: Fuel cell car C.9

5.2 With the use of fuel cells in motor vehicles the required fuels will change.
List different storage possibilities for hydrogen and compare these with conventional
fuels for combustion engines using characteristic data and suitable graphics.
Hydrogen can be stored in its pure form (compressed gas, liquid gas, metal hydride storage), or
stored chemically, in technically reproducible hydrogen-rich substances (e.g. methanol).
Depending upon storage type different gravimetric and volumetric energy densities are reached.
We should always consider expenditure on production and storage. For example with the
storage of the hydrogen in liquid form about 30% of the stored energy is needed for cooling. In
the following table the gravimetric and volumetric energy densities of the specified hydrogen
reservoirs are compared to the corresponding values of gasoline and diesel. The following
graphic shows the differences clearly.

Volumetric energy density Gravimetric energy density


Fuel
(kWh/L) (kWh/kg)

Gasoline 9.1 11.67


Diesel 10 11.39
Methanol 4.29 5.42
H2 (g) 350 bar 0.74 1.33
H2 (l) 1.5 3.73
H2 (metal hydride) 2.1 0.47

Energy density comparison


12
Volumetric energy density
Energy density (kWh/l and kWh/kg)

10 Gravimetric energy density

0
Gasoline Diesel Methanol H2 (g) H2 (l) H2
350 bar Metal hydride

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Solutions 9 Fuel cell application II: Fuel cell car C.9

Gasoline and diesel have the highest energy densities, thus the most energy per volume and/or
per mass. Methanol compares favorably, however demands a complex reformation to obtain
the hydrogen. The disadvantages of the energy-intensive storage of liquid hydrogen have
already been mentioned. A possibility of storing hydrogen in a simple manner is metal hydride
storage. Because of its high weight it is suitable however only for small applications; too heavy
for use in the automobile. In the end compressed gas storage, which does not have a
particularly high power density, remains a technically simply and developed method.

5.3 On a fuel cell vehicle a fuel storage is to be specified so that the vehicle with a single
tank filling can travel the same distance as a vehicle with combustion engine (gasoline)
with 30 L of fuel in its tank . The overall efficiency of the fuel cell vehicle is 40 %, that of
the vehicle with combustion engine 20 %.
Compare the mass and volume of compressed gas, liquid gas and metal hydride
storage for hydrogen, as well as a methanol tank, and the equivalent values of a
gasoline tank.
Discuss your result and then choose a suitable storage. Under which simplifications,
related to the hydrogen reservoirs, did you perform the calculations and how does this
affect the result?
Assume the volume of the gasoline tank itself is negligible:
Vgasoline = Vtank = 30 L
:LWKWKHHPSW\ZHLJKWRIWKHWDQNDUELWUDULO\FKRVHQWREHNJDQGWKHGHQVLW\ gasoline = 0.78
kg/dm³ a total mass results:
mtotal = mtank gasoline • Vgasoline = 25.9 kg.
Using the lower heat value LHV = 42 MJ/kgDQGWKHGHQVLW\ gasoline the energy content of the
gasoline can be determined simply as:
Egasoline  gasoline • Vgasoline • LHVgasoline = 273 kWh
Considering the efficiency differences of both propulsion principles the masses and volumes of
the storage can be computed using the power densities specified in 5.2. For the methanol tank,
similar to the gasoline tank, the volume of the tank itself is ignored and an empty weight of 2.5
kg was used.

Fuel Volume (L) Mass (kg)

Gasoline 30 25.9
Methanol 31.8 27.7
H2 (g) 350 bar 184.5 102.6
H2 (l) 91 36.6
H2 metal hydride 65 290.4

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Solutions 10 Fuel cell application II: Fuel cell car C.9

Comparison of fuel storage methods


300
Storage volume
250 Storage mass
Volume (L) and mass (kg)

200

150

100

50

0
Gasoline Methanol H2 (gas) H2 (liquid) H2
350 bar Metal hydride

Storage volumes and mass are lowest for the vehicle with a combustion engine. Due to the
significantly better efficiency of the fuel cell vehicle, the methanol tank is however only a little
larger and heavier. Also liquid storage of hydrogen represents a practical alternative. In the
case of compressed gas storage the range of the vehicle would have to be reduced or a much
larger storage chosen. The relatively small volume of a metal hydride storage is favorable, but
the mass of the system is so high as to make it impractical.
With this comparison the energies needed by the respective storage methods were neglected.
To maintain liquid hydrogen storage significant energy expenditure is necessary, for example to
guarantee cooling. When using methanol, energy is needed to loosen bound hydrogen from the
molecular lattice (reformation). Therefore additional fuel is necessary, in order to meet such
power requirements.
In summary to select a suitable storage system, you would consider volumes and mass for the
methanol method. If one wants to avoid the reformation, the choice is clearly for the liquid gas
storage. But because this is achieved at high technical cost, it may be appropriate to return to
the larger, heavier, but more simple compressed gas storage.

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Solutions 11 Fuel cell application II: Fuel cell car C.9

5.4 Compare the structure of the drive train of a fuel cell vehicle with that of a combustion
engine vehicle.
Which advantages result for the fuel cell vehicle?
To operate a vehicle with a combustion engine a clutch as well as a transmission is necessary,
since with the combustion engine only a limited range of engine speeds can be used. Since at
rotational speed 0 no torque is delivered, at least an idling speed must always be maintained. In
order to move in the optimal speed range of the engine, a complex transmission is necessary.
The power transmission to the wheels must be through shafts. Different distribution of forces or
different numbers of revolutions of individual wheels can be realized only through power-
absorbing differentials.
In a fuel cell vehicle the drive is achieved by electric motors. Since these produce high torque
over the entire speed range of the motor, a clutch and transmission are not necessary. Thus
wear-intensive units can be omitted, and the structure of the engine will be significantly simpler
and more durable. An additional advantage is that each wheel can be propelled individually,
thus shafts and differentials in the power transmission would be unnecessary, the distribution of
forces being regulated electronically. Many years of experience already exist, e.g. in building
rail-mounted vehicles.
The larger volumes and masses for hydrogen storage could be compensated by savings in the
power train.

5.5 A fuel cell vehicle is to be propelled with an asynchronous engine.


How would you control the rotational speed and how could the power be delivered?
To control the number of revolutions of asynchronous machines the frequency voltage control is
best suited. With this control it is possible to accelerate away from a stop in minimal time up to
the rated speed. A further increase of the number of revolutions is possible, however with a
reduction of the torque.
To implement this control a variable DC voltage is necessary, over which the working force level
can be stepped. In addition a DC—DC transducer is necessary, which converts a variable input
voltage into a variable output voltage. The output voltage should always correspond to a pre-set
value. For the frequency control an inverter must be used, which sets the desired frequency and
thus the number of revolutions of the motor.

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Work sheet 1 The basic functions of the fuel cell system D.1

Required devices:

Description Item
I 630
Hydrogen supply (alternates) II 642
III 652
Fuel cell FC50 610
Electronic load EL200 620
Voltage converter VC100 (optional) 621
Traffic light TL10 (optional) 622

Arrange the devices as in the following diagram:

Fuel cell
Cell
FC50
Hydrogen supply

Traffic Voltage Converter


Spannungswandler Electronic Load
Elektronische Last
light
Light VC100 EL200
TL10 (optional)
(optional)

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Work sheet 2 The basic functions of the fuel cell system D.1

Task:

Learn about the FC50 Fuel Cell System and its components by stepping through their
operation. Notice how the system reports operation errors and learn how to correct them.

Execution:

Note: This procedure shows you the operating modes of the individual components and later
helps you to easily recognize and correct errors. You should follow the sequence step by
step as indicated here. If you notice a mistake or omission in the procedure steps, you
should nevertheless do the steps as indicated in order to learn the behavior of the system in
the event of an error.
To solve the following problems and answer the questions it will be necessary to refer to the
Component Descriptions of the devices used.

1 Installation and start-up of FC50, EL200 and hydrogen supply:


When setting up and starting the equipment, follow the instructions provided in
Part A: Component Descriptions for the individual components, especially the
safety instructions.
During experiments, ensure the area has adequate ventilation and keep away
from sources of ignition.
1.1 Place the modules into the mounting frame arranged as shown in the above illustration.
Use the AC power cord to connect the EL200 Electronic Load to the source of AC
power. (Connection is on the right side behind the front panel.) Ensure the toggle
switch on the EL200 front panel is OFF.
Use two short test leads to connect the FC50 with the EL200, paying attention to the
polarity.
1.2 On the FC50, set the main (toggle) switch to ON and press the START button.
Which problem occurs and how can it be corrected?

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Work sheet 3 The basic functions of the fuel cell system D.1

1.3 After you have corrected the problem, press the START button again.
Which problem now occurs and how can it be corrected? Use the error list in A.3 Fuel
Cell Module FC50 to explain.

1.4 Press the START button again. For approx.10 seconds a system test is performed. If
this is successful, the displays are illuminated. The FC50 is now ready for use.
1.5 Turn the main power switch located behind the EL200 front panel on. The ‘Power’
display is illuminated.
Turn the 10-turn potentiometer, in order to apply a load current.
What does this show?

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Work sheet 4 The basic functions of the fuel cell system D.1

1.6 The load current previously set on the potentiometer is drawn from the Fuel cell and
can be read on the appropriate display. The power Pload absorbed by the electronic
load is shown in the EL200 display window.
1.7 Cooling fans supply air necessary for the operation of the fuel cell. The speed of the
fans can be adjusted to suit the load current automatically or manually. Use the knob
beside the display ’ Fan Power ’, to set a fan power between 5 % and 100 %.
Try setting different operating points on the EL200 and try to set an appropriate fan
power. Watch how the system reacts when you change these settings.
1.8 Now apply a load current of 9 A and reduce the fan power slowly to 5 %. Watch the
stack voltage display.
What did you observe? Use the “Error messages” list (see A.3 Fuel Cell Module FC50)
in order to explain why the FC50 shut off.

1.9 Switch the FC50 off. Ensure that the potentiometer of the EL200 is set to zero and the
toggle switch on the front panel is OFF.
1.10 If you are not making further measurements with the system, proceed to shut down
and switch off the system as follows:
• On the EL200, turn the potentiometer to zero, set the toggle switch to OFF, and turn
off the main power switch behind the front panel.
• On the FC50, turn the fan control knob to AUTO and turn the main switch OFF.
• Follow the correct procedure to shut down your hydrogen supply, as described in
sections A.8, A.9 or A.10 as appropriate.
• Remove the hydrogen supply from the FC50 by opening the quick-coupler.

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Work sheet 5 The basic functions of the fuel cell system D.1

2 Installation and start-up of COMPUTER-SUPPORTED Operations


To operate the FC50 in the COMPUTER-SUPPORTED mode, it is necessary to
have a computer with RS232 interface on which you have installed the provided
software. Refer to operation of the software in the section A.7 "Control
Software".
2.1 Connect the port ’ RS232 ’ of the FC50 to the appropriate interface on your computer
using the provided long 9-pin data cable.
Start the program ’FC50 software’ on your computer selecting the menu option ’user
Interface’ and click the ’START’ button. Follow the instructions in the reporting window
of the control software.
2.2 When you are requested from the software, switch on the FC50 and start it.
Which problem occurs and how can it be corrected?

2.3 The measured values of the FC50 are now shown on both the module and on your
computer. But you can adjust the fan power only through the software.

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Work sheet 6 The basic functions of the fuel cell system D.1

2.4 Also, setting the load current is only possible through the software. Set a value of
Iload = 2 A
Why doesn’t the EL200 react?

2.5 In the ’user Interface’ of the FC50 software click the label ’data display’. Observe the
behavior of the different fuel cell parameters when you change the load current.
2.6 When you are through with the system, proceed to shut down and switch off the
system as follows:
• Terminate the FC50 software. The FC50 sees the interruption of communication
and displays an error.
• Turn the potentiometer of the EL200 to zero, set the toggle switch to OFF and
switch off the main switch behind the front panel.
• Turn the knob for the fan power to AUTO and turn the FC50 main switch OFF.
• Put the hydrogen supply out of operation correctly.
• Remove the hydrogen inlet to the FC50 by disconnecting the quick-coupler.

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Work sheet 7 The basic functions of the fuel cell system D.1

3 Installation and start-up of VC100 and TL10 (optional)


This part can only be performed if the voltage converter VC100 and the traffic light
TL10 is available. It does not matter if the FC50 is operating in COMPUTER-
SUPPORTED mode or in manual mode.
Follow the safety instructions provided in section A: Component Descriptions
for the individual components.
3.1 In the following the fuel cell system is self-powered. Switch the FC50 off and remove
the AC power pack. Instead connect the 12 V DC input of the FC50 to the “Parasitic
Load” output of the VC100 using the provided 3-pin cable.
From the “Available Power” output of the VC100, the traffic light TL10 or other loads
can be supplied.
Use the provided short 9-pin RS485 data cable to connect the VC100 to the unused
interface port of the EL200, to provide communication in the COMPUTER-
SUPPORTED mode.
Start the FC50. Which error occurs?

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Work sheet 8 The basic functions of the fuel cell system D.1

3.2 Restart the FC50 and wait for the system test to complete. In the VC100 display
‘parasitic load' see the power consumed by the FC50. In the display 'available power'
see the power consumed by the attached load. Briefly try out the traffic light TL10 and
observe the ‘available power’ display:
At switch position ON all lamps shine; at position AUTO, a normal traffic light sequence
occurs. In the middle position the device is off.
3.3 The electronic load EL200 can be operated in parallel with the traffic light. Gradually
increase the load current of the fuel cell using the EL200 potentiometer. Try to reach
the maximum EL200 load current.
Explain why the FC50 switches off. What has to be considered when restarting?

3.4 When you are through with the system, proceed to shut down and switch off the
system as follows:
• Turn the potentiometer of the EL200 to zero, set the toggle switch to OFF and
switch off the main switch behind the front panel.
• Turn the knob for the fan power to AUTO and turn the FC50 main switch OFF.
• Put the hydrogen supply out of operation correctly.
• Remove the hydrogen inlet to the FC50 by disconnecting the quick-coupler.

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Work sheet 9 The basic functions of the fuel cell system D.1

4 Summary
Considering the problems and the associated error messages again, look at the error
list in section A.3 Fuel Cell Module FC50. Explain why it is useful to divide the errors
into two groups: start-up errors and operating errors. Give at least one example of each
group.

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Work sheet 1 The characteristic curve of a fuel cell D.2

Required devices:

Description Item
I 630
Hydrogen supply (alternates) II 642
III 652
Fuel cell FC50 610
Electronic load EL200 620

Arrange the devices as in the following diagram:

Fuel Cell
FC50

Hydrogen supply

Electronic Load
EL200

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Work sheet 2 The characteristic curve of a fuel cell D.2

Task:

In this experiment we determine the voltage-current characteristic of a fuel cell and plot a
power-current diagram. This provides a basic knowledge of the behavior of a fuel cell. The
results can be used to size and design fuel cell stacks.

Execution:

1 Set-up
When setting up and starting the equipment, follow the instructions provided in
section A: Component Descriptions for the individual components, especially
the safety instructions.
During experiments, ensure the area has adequate ventilation and keep away
from sources of ignition.
1.1 Connect the AC power pack cable to the 12V= DC power input on the FC50 Fuel Cell.
Connect the other end of the AC power pack to a source of AC power.
On the front panel of the EL200 Electronic Load ensure the toggle switch is OFF. Use
the AC power cord to connect the EL200 to a source of AC power; then turn on the
main power switch located behind the EL200 front panel.
1.2 Use two short test leads to connect the FC50 with the EL200, paying attention to the
polarity.
1.3 Attach the hydrogen supply quick-coupler to the FC50. Connect the 9-pin plug of the
hydrogen supply’s solenoid valve to the H2 SUPPLY connector on the FC50.
1.4 If you want to use the provided software program to help perform the experiment, make
the appropriate connections now. You will find instructions in section A.3 Fuel Cell
Module FC50 under the heading “Start-up” and in section A.7 Control Software.

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Work sheet 3 The characteristic curve of a fuel cell D.2

2 Start-up
Start each component as directed.
2.1 Hydrogen supply:
To start your hydrogen supply, refer to sections A.8, A.9 or A.10 of the
Component Descriptions, as appropriate for the supply you are using.
2.2 Electronic load EL200:
Ensure the 10-turn potentiometer is set to zero. Then turn ON the toggle switch on the
front panel.
2.3 FC50 software:
If you want to use the provided software program to assist with the experiment, start
the FC50 software on your PC and select experiment C.2. Wait until the program
requests you to press the FC50 START button. You will find instructions in section A.3
Fuel Cell Module FC50 under the heading “Start-up” and in section A.7 Control
Software.
2.4 Fuel cell FC50:
Ensure the fan control knob is at AUTO. Set the main switch to ON and press the
START button. After completing a system test, the green OPERATION light comes on
and the FC50 is ready for use. If an error occurs, the error code will appear in the
H2 Flow display. You will find descriptions of the errors in section A.3 Fuel Cell Module
FC50 under the heading “Error Messages and Causes”.

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Work sheet 4 The characteristic curve of a fuel cell D.2

3 Data acquisition
3.1 For these measurements, the fuel cell should be at a temperature of 40 °C. You can
reach this temperature by loading the fuel cell for a few minutes with a current of
approximately 5 A. Using the potentiometer of the EL200, increase the load current
until the Current display on the FC50 shows approximately 5 amperes. To further
cause stack temperature to rise, turn the fan control knob on the FC50 so the Fan
Power display indicates 10%.
After the temperature reaches 40 °C, ensure the load potentiometer is turned back to
zero and set fan control knob to AUTO.
3.2 Using the EL200 potentiometer, set in turn each load current listed in the following
table. After waiting at least 15 seconds at each point, record the measured values of
stack current Istack and stack voltage Vstack in the table. When measuring the first point
(no-load operation) turn the toggle switch on the EL200 to OFF to ensure that there is
no load on the fuel cell.

Nominal
Measured values Calculated
current
Istack (A) Istack (A) Vstack (V) Pstack (W)
0.0
0.2
0.5
1.0
1.5
2.0
3.0
5.0
7.0
10.0

3.3 If you are not making further measurements with the system, proceed to shut down
and switch off the system as follows:
• On the EL200, turn the potentiometer to zero, set the toggle switch to OFF, and turn
off the main power switch behind the front panel.
• On the FC50, turn the fan control knob to AUTO and turn the main switch OFF.
• Follow the correct procedure to shut down your hydrogen supply, as described in
sections A.8, A.9 or A.10 as appropriate.
• Remove the hydrogen supply from the FC50 by opening the quick-coupler.

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Work sheet 5 The characteristic curve of a fuel cell D.2

4 Data interpretation

4.1 Draw the fuel cell voltage-current relation Vstack = f (Istack) and describe the characteristic
curve.

Voltage-Current Characteristic
10
9
8
Stack Voltage Vstack (V)

7
6
5
4
3
2
1
0
0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

Current Istack (A)

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Work sheet 6 The characteristic curve of a fuel cell D.2

4.2 How do you explain the characteristic curve?

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Work sheet 7 The characteristic curve of a fuel cell D.2

4.3 Also draw the fuel cell power-current relation Pstack = f (Istack). Use the calculated
electrical power from table 3.2. Then considering the characteristic curve, make a
statement about the maximum power of the fuel cell.

Power-Current Characteristic
60

50

40
Power Pstack (W)

30

20

10

0
0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

Current Istack (A)

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Work sheet 8 The characteristic curve of a fuel cell D.2

4.4 For the power of fuel cell stacks two parameters are significant: the number of cells
and the current density (in A/cm2). From the results of your measurement of the stack
at a load current of 10 A, determine the voltage and the current density of an individual
cell. Note: The active surface of these cells (surface of the electrodes) is 25 cm2.
Assuming these values are transferable to larger fuel cells, use your results to specify
two fuel cell stacks:
• a 1 kW el rated stack with a working voltage Vstack = 24 V
• a 5 kW el rated stack with a working voltage Vstack = 42 V
For both stacks give the following values: cell current, number of cells and active cell
surface.

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Work sheet 9 The characteristic curve of a fuel cell D.2

4.5 The power density of a fuel cell (in W/L) is an important characteristic for the capacity
of a fuel cell, for example for use in a motor vehicle.
Calculate this value for the experimental fuel cell (without fan and end plates) for a
power of 50 W. Then compare this value with fuel cells that are used today in
automobile prototypes. Here values of 1 to 2 kW/L are being reached. How might the
power density of the experimental fuel cell stack be optimized? State some ideas.

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Work sheet 1 Parameters influencing the characteristic curve D.3

Required devices:

Description Item
I 630
Hydrogen supply (alternates) II 642
III 652
Fuel cell FC50 610
Electronic load EL200 620
External voltmeter -

Arrange the devices as in the following diagram:

Fuel Cell
FC50

Hydrogen supply

Electronic Load
EL200

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Work sheet 2 Parameters influencing the characteristic curve D.3

Task:

In this experiment we investigate the effects of reduced air supply, increased internal
resistance, and fuel cell temperature on the characteristic curve of the fuel cell.

Execution:

1 Set-up
When setting up and starting the equipment, follow the instructions provided in
section A: Component Descriptions for the individual components, especially
the safety instructions.
During experiments, ensure the area has adequate ventilation and keep away
from sources of ignition.
1.1 Connect the AC power pack cable to the 12V= DC power input on the FC50 Fuel Cell.
Connect the other end of the AC power pack to a source of AC power.
On the front panel of the EL200 Electronic Load ensure the toggle switch is OFF. Use
the AC power cord to connect the EL200 to a source of AC power; then turn on the
main power switch located behind the EL200 front panel.
1.2 Use two short test leads to connect the FC50 with the EL200, paying attention to the
polarity.
1.3 Attach the hydrogen supply quick-coupler to the FC50. Connect the 9-pin plug of the
hydrogen supply’s solenoid valve to the H2 SUPPLY connector on the FC50.
1.4 If you want to use the provided software program to help perform the experiment, make
the appropriate connections now. You will find instructions in section A.3 Fuel Cell
Module FC50 under the heading “Start-up” and in section A.7 Control Software.

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Work sheet 3 Parameters influencing the characteristic curve D.3

2 Start-up
Start each component as directed.
2.1 Hydrogen supply:
To start your hydrogen supply, refer to sections A.8, A.9 or A.10 of the
Component Descriptions, as appropriate for the supply you are using.
2.2 Electronic load EL200:
Ensure the 10-turn potentiometer is set to zero. Then turn ON the toggle switch on the
front panel.
2.3 FC50 software:
If you want to use the provided software program to assist with the parts of the
experiment described in section 3 and 5 (automated support for section 4 is not
possible), start the FC50 software on your PC and select experiment C.3. Wait until the
program requests you to press the FC50 START button. You will find instructions in
section A.3 Fuel Cell Module FC50 under the heading “Start-up” and in section A.7
Control Software.
2.4 Fuel cell FC50:
Ensure the fan control knob is at AUTO. Set the main switch to ON and press the
START button. After completing a system test, the green OPERATION light comes on
and the FC50 is ready for use. If an error occurs, the error code will appear in the
H2 Flow display. You will find descriptions of the errors in section A.3 Fuel Cell Module
FC50 under the heading “Error Messages and Causes”.

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Work sheet 4 Parameters influencing the characteristic curve D.3

3 Effect of the air supply on the characteristic curve of a fuel cell


3.1 For these measurements, the fuel cell should be at a temperature of 40 °C. You can
reach this temperature by loading the fuel cell for a few minutes with a current of
approximately 5 A. Using the potentiometer of the EL200, increase the load current
until the Current display on the FC50 shows approximately 5 amperes. To further
cause stack temperature to rise, turn the fan control knob on the FC50 so the Fan
Power display indicates 10%.
After the temperature reaches 40 °C, ensure the load potentiometer is turned back to
zero and set fan control knob to AUTO.
3.2 Use the load potentiometer of the EL200 to set in sequence the current values given in
the following table. Wait for at least 15 s at each current setting before copying the
measured values of stack current Istack and stack voltage Vstack to the measured value
table. For the first series of measurements place the fan setting at AUTO. For the
second series, adjust the control so that Fan Power is 6%.
In each series, for the first measuring point of zero-amperes, you can simply turn the
EL200 toggle switch OFF, to ensure no load is applied to the system.
Note: The last measured values of the second series of measurements should be
taken quickly, because inadequate cooling will cause the fuel cell temperature to rise. If
necessary, you can cool the stack by temporarily removing the load and increasing fan
power. If the temperature does rise above 50 °C, for safety the FC50 automatically
switches off and will not restart until the temperature falls below 45 °C.

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Work sheet 5 Parameters influencing the characteristic curve D.3

Nominal Measured values, Nominal Measured values,


current 1 Fan at AUTO current 2 Fan at 6%
Istack (A) Istack (A) Vstack (V) Istack (A) Istack (A) Vstack (V)
0.0 0.0
0.2 0.2
0.5 0.5
1.0 1.0
1.5 1.5
2.0 2.0
3.0 3.0
5.0 5.0
7.0 7.0
10.0 7.4
7.6
7.8
8.0
8.2

3.3 If you are not making further measurements with the system, proceed to shut down
and switch off the system as follows:
• On the EL200, turn the potentiometer to zero, set the toggle switch to OFF, and turn
off the main power switch behind the front panel.
• On the FC50, turn the fan control knob to AUTO and turn the main switch OFF.
• Follow the correct procedure to shut down your hydrogen supply, as described in
sections A.8, A.9 or A.10 as appropriate.
• Remove the hydrogen supply from the FC50 by opening the quick-coupler.

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Work sheet 6 Parameters influencing the characteristic curve D.3

3.4 Use the measured values to draw on the following diagram the voltage-current
characteristic Vstack = f( Istack) of the fuel cell for both fan settings.
Briefly describe the shape of the resulting characteristic curve.

Effect of air supply


10
9
8
Stack voltage Vstack (V)

7
6
5
4
3
2
1
0
0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
Stack current Istack (A)

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Work sheet 7 Parameters influencing the characteristic curve D.3

3.5 How do you explain the divergence of the reduced-air characteristic curve? On the
diagram mark the individual ranges of the reduced-air characteristic.

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Work sheet 8 Parameters influencing the characteristic curve D.3

3.6 Transfer from 3.2 the measured values for the stack current Istack to the following table
and calculate the associated stack power Pstack.
Then use the calculated values to draw on the following diagram the characteristic
Pstack = f( Istack) of the fuel cell with the two air supplies and briefly describe the shape of
the characteristic curve.

Fan at ’AUTO’ Fan at ’6%’


Measured value Calculated Measured value Calculated
Istack (A) Pstack (W) Istack (A) Pstack (W)

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Work sheet 9 Parameters influencing the characteristic curve D.3

Effect of air supply on the power curve


60

50
Stack power Pstack (W)

40

30

20

10

0
0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

Stack current Istack (A)

3.7 What do you observe about the operation of fuel cells from the shape of the
performance curve at reduced air supply?

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Work sheet 10 Parameters influencing the characteristic curve D.3

3.8 Calculate the oxygen flow rate needed at an individual cell and the rate of water
formation in order to produce an electric current of 10 A. Use a formula derived from
Faraday’s laws for the determination of the substance change. Then determine the
theoretically needed volumetric air flow for the entire stack on the assumption that the
usable oxygen portion in air is 20 %. Consider the number of cells of the stack.
Note: Perform the calculation at standard conditions (0 °C, 1.01325 bar). The
molecular standard volume is Vm = 22.4 L/mol; the Faraday constant F = 9.648 × 104
C/mol.

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Work sheet 11 Parameters influencing the characteristic curve D.3

3.9 The fuel cell stack actually operates with excess air = 10. What does “excess air”
mean and why is it necessary?
Note: Also consider the temperature behavior of the fuel cell at reduced fan power.

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Work sheet 12 Parameters influencing the characteristic curve D.3

4 Effect of internal resistance on the characteristic curve of a fuel cell


4.1 In this part of the experiment software support is not possible, because an external
voltage measurement is necessary. Connect a suitable voltmeter to measure the
terminal voltage Vterminal at the output of the FC50.
4.2 The recommended operating temperature is the same as in the previous part, 40 °C. If
the fuel cell has cooled, heat it again as described in 3.1.
4.3 Use the load potentiometer of the EL200 to set in sequence the current values given in
the following table.
Wait for at least 15 s at each current setting before copying the measured values of
stack current Istack, stack voltage Vstack and terminal voltage Vterminal to the measured
value table.
In each series, for the first measuring point of zero-amperes, you can simply turn the
EL200 toggle switch OFF, to ensure no load is applied to the system.

Nominal Measured values


Istack (A) Istack (A) Vstack (V) Vterminal (V)
0.0
0.2
0.5
1.0
1.5
2.0
3.0
5.0
7.0
10.0

4.4 If you are not making further measurements with the system, proceed to shut down
and switch off the system as described in 3.3.

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Work sheet 13 Parameters influencing the characteristic curve D.3

4.5 Draw the two voltage-current characteristics Vstack = f(Istack) and Vterminal = f(Istack) and
describe the shapes of both characteristic curve.

Effect of internal resistance


10
9
8
7
Voltage (V)

6
5
4
3
2
1
0
0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
Stack current Istack (A)

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Work sheet 14 Parameters influencing the characteristic curve D.3

4.6 Describe the diverging shape of the characteristic curve with the FC50 fuel cell
structure and suggest causes for it.

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Work sheet 15 Parameters influencing the characteristic curve D.3

4.7 Consider the FC50 as a real power supply and describe the make-up of internal
resistance Rint. Divide it into two partial resistances and draw an appropriate schematic
diagram.

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Work sheet 16 Parameters influencing the characteristic curve D.3

4.8 Determine with the help of the curves in 4.5 the size of the resistances in the diagram
of 4.7.
Calculate the power losses due to these resistances at a stack current of 10 A.

4.9 To which physical causes can the Ohmic resistance be attributed within the fuel cell
stacks?
What optimization possibilities exist?

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Work sheet 17 Parameters influencing the characteristic curve D.3

5 Effect of the temperature on the characteristic curve of a fuel cell


5.1 In this part of the experiment two series of measurements are taken at different fuel cell
temperatures. The recommended temperatures at the beginning of each series are
approximately 28 °C and 44 °C. During the experiment temperatures will unavoidably
drift. In order to keep the deviations small, currents and voltages should be measured
and recorded as quickly as possible.
5.2 If you want to use the provided software program to assist with this part of the
experiment, you must now switch off the FC50 and start the FC50 software on your
PC. Select the appropriate experiment and wait until the program requests you to press
the FC50 START button.
5.3 It is recommended to take first the series of measurements at the lower temperature. If
the temperature is already too high, you can use the fan to lower it. Cool the fuel cell as
quickly as possible to avoid drying the membranes.
After reaching the desired operating temperature, reset the fan control to AUTO.
To reach the fuel cell temperature of the second series of measurements load the fuel
cell for a few minutes with a current of approximately 7 A. Using the potentiometer of
the EL200, increase the load current until the Current display on the FC50 shows
approximately 7 amperes. To further cause stack temperature to rise, turn the fan
control knob on the FC50 so the Fan Power display indicates 12%.
After the temperature reaches 44 °C, ensure the load potentiometer is turned back to
zero and set fan control knob to AUTO.
5.4 Use the load potentiometer of the EL200 to set in sequence the current values given in
the following table.
Wait for at least 15 s at each current setting before copying the measured values of
stack current Istack and stack voltage Vstack to the measured value table. Begin the first
series of measurements at a stack temperature of approx. 28 °C, the second series of
measurements at approx. 44 °C.
In each series, for the first measuring point of zero-amperes, you can simply turn the
EL200 toggle switch OFF, to ensure no load is applied to the system.
Note: The last measured values of the first series of measurements should be taken
quickly, because high current will cause the fuel cell temperature to rise. If necessary,
you can cool the stack by temporarily removing the load and increasing fan power.

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Work sheet 18 Parameters influencing the characteristic curve D.3

Measured values
Nominal
Tstack = 28 °C Tstack = 44 °C
Istack (A) Istack (A) Vstack (V) Istack (A) Vstack (V)
0.00
0.20
0.50
1.00
1.50
2.00
3.00
5.00
7.00
10.00

5.5 If you are not making further measurements with the system, proceed to shut down
and switch off the system as described in 3.3.
5.6 Draw the voltage-current characteristic curve for each operating temperature and
describe the shape of the curve.

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Work sheet 19 Parameters influencing the characteristic curve D.3

Effect of stack temperature


10
9
8
Stack voltage Vstack (V)

7
6
5
4
3
2
1
0
0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
Stack current Istack (A)

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Work sheet 20 Parameters influencing the characteristic curve D.3

5.7 Explain the described characteristic curves considering the electrochemical reaction
occurring here and the electrical conductivity.

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Work sheet 21 Parameters influencing the characteristic curve D.3

5.8 Draw conclusions about the optimum operating temperature.

5.9 By which measure can the optimal operating temperature be increased?


Draw on your conclusions in 5.7 and consider whether the effect is applicable in every
case.

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Work sheet 1 Determination of the hydrogen current curve D.4

Required devices:

Description Item
I 630
Hydrogen supply (alternates) II 642
III 652
Fuel cell FC50 610
Electronic load EL200 620

Arrange the devices as in the following diagram:

Fuel Cell
FC50

Hydrogen supply

Electronic Load
EL200

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Work sheet 2 Determination of the hydrogen current curve D.4

Task:

In this experiment we determine the relationship between the hydrogen flow rate and
electrical current, and how this is expressed in Faraday’s first law.

Execution:

1 Set-up
When setting up and starting the equipment, follow the instructions provided in
section A: Component Descriptions for the individual components, especially
the safety instructions.
During experiments, ensure the area has adequate ventilation and keep away
from sources of ignition.
1.1 Connect the AC power pack cable to the 12V= DC power input on the FC50 Fuel Cell.
Connect the other end of the AC power pack to a source of AC power.
On the front panel of the EL200 Electronic Load ensure the toggle switch is OFF. Use
the AC power cord to connect the EL200 to a source of AC power; then turn on the
main power switch located behind the EL200 front panel.
1.2 Use two short test leads to connect the FC50 with the EL200, paying attention to the
polarity.
1.3 Attach the hydrogen supply quick-coupler to the FC50. Connect the 9-pin plug of the
hydrogen supply’s solenoid valve to the H2 SUPPLY connector on the FC50.
1.4 If you want to use the provided software program to help perform the experiment, make
the appropriate connections now. You will find instructions in section A.3 Fuel Cell
Module FC50 under the heading “Start-up” and in section A.7 Control Software.

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Work sheet 3 Determination of the hydrogen current curve D.4

2 Start-up
Start each component as directed.
2.1 Hydrogen supply:
To start your hydrogen supply, refer to sections A.8, A.9 or A.10 of the
Component Descriptions, as appropriate for the supply you are using.
2.2 Electronic load EL200:
Ensure the 10-turn potentiometer is set to zero. Then turn ON the toggle switch on the
front panel.
2.3 FC50 software:
If you want to use the provided software program to assist with the experiment, start
the FC50 software on your PC and select experiment C.4. Wait until the program
requests you to press the FC50 START button. You will find instructions in section A.3
Fuel Cell Module FC50 under the heading “Start-up” and in section A.7 Control
Software.
2.4 Fuel cell FC50:
Ensure the fan control knob is at AUTO. Set the main switch to ON and press the
START button. After completing a system test, the green OPERATION light comes on
and the FC50 is ready for use. If an error occurs, the error code will appear in the
H2 Flow display. You will find descriptions of the errors in section A.3 Fuel Cell Module
FC50 under the heading “Error Messages and Causes”.

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Work sheet 4 Determination of the hydrogen current curve D.4

3 Determination of the hydrogen-current relation


3.1 For these measurements, the fuel cell should be at a temperature of 40 °C. You can
reach this temperature by loading the fuel cell for a few minutes with a current of
approximately 5 A. Using the potentiometer of the EL200, increase the load current
until the Current display on the FC50 shows approximately 5 amperes. To further
cause stack temperature to rise, turn the fan control knob on the FC50 so the Fan
Power display indicates 10%.
After the temperature reaches 40 °C, ensure the load potentiometer is turned back to
zero and set fan control knob to AUTO.
In each series, for the first measuring point of zero-amperes, you can simply turn the
EL200 toggle switch OFF, to ensure no load is applied to the system.
3.2 Use the load potentiometer of the EL200 to set in sequence the current values given in
the following table.
Wait for at least 60 s at each current setting before copying the measured values of
stack current Istack and hydrogen flow rate V&H 2 to the measured value table.

In each series, for the first measuring point of zero-amperes, you can simply turn the
EL200 toggle switch OFF, to ensure no load is applied to the system.
Note: For reaching even hydrogen concentration at all membranes it is necessary to
purge the hydrogen channels of the fuel cell. This takes place automatically and for a
brief time visibly increases the hydrogen flow rate. If a purging occurs during the
measurement, you should restart the 60 s waiting period for that operating point. The
previously measured values are still valid.

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Work sheet 5 Determination of the hydrogen current curve D.4

Nominal Measured values


Istack (A) Istack (A) V&H 2 (ml/min)

0.0
1.0
2.0
3.0
4.0
5.0
6.0
7.0
8.0
9.0
10.0

3.3 If you are not making further measurements with the system, proceed to shut down
and switch off the system as follows:
• On the EL200, turn the potentiometer to zero, set the toggle switch to OFF, and turn
off the main power switch behind the front panel.
• On the FC50, turn the fan control knob to AUTO and turn the main switch OFF.
• Follow the correct procedure to shut down your hydrogen supply, as described in
sections A.8, A.9 or A.10 as appropriate.
• Remove the hydrogen supply from the FC50 by opening the quick-coupler.

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Work sheet 6 Determination of the hydrogen current curve D.4

3.4 Plot the measured hydrogen consumption as a function of current in a diagram:


V&H 2 = f (I ) VWDFN

Hydrogen - current curve


800
Rate of hydrogen flow VolH2 (ml/min)

700

600

500

400

300

200

100

0
0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
Stack current Istack (A)

3.5 Describe and explain the characteristic curve, using the First Faraday Law. Then
explain the observed behavior in no-load operation (I = 0 A). VWDFN

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Work sheet 7 Determination of the hydrogen current curve D.4

3.6 When specifying fuel cell systems it is important to know the current-dependent
hydrogen flow rate of a stack. This indicates how much hydrogen the stack needs to
supply a given current. Determine this value from the diagram in 3.4 neglecting the
leakage rate.
Then with the help of Faraday’s laws calculate the theoretical value and compare it to
the observed value.
Note: The displayed values of hydrogen flow rate have been converted to the
equivalent ml/min at standard conditions (0 °C, 1.01325 bar). Calculate the theoretical
value of the hydrogen flow rate at standard conditions. The molecular standard volume
is Vm = 22.4 L/mol; the Faraday constant F = 9.648 × 104 C/mol.

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Work sheet 8 Determination of the hydrogen current curve D.4

3.7 The current-dependent hydrogen flow rate determined in 3.6 is valid only for this stack.
Express the hydrogen flow rate as a function of the number of cells a of a fuel cell
stack and develop a general formula for the required hydrogen volume of a stack
related to current, number of cells and time.
Use this formula to calculate how much hydrogen is needed to draw 30 A from a 25-
cell stack for 8 hours. What is the required hydrogen flow rate?

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Work sheet 1 Efficiency of the fuel cell stack D.5

Required devices:

Description Item
I 630
Hydrogen supply (alternates) II 642
III 652
Fuel cell FC50 610
Electronic load EL200 620

Arrange the devices as in the following diagram:

Fuel Cell
FC50

Hydrogen supply

Electronic Load
EL200

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Work sheet 2 Efficiency of the fuel cell stack D.5

Task:

In this experiment we determine the efficiency of the fuel cell stack. By analyzing the power
efficiency characteristic you will gain important knowledge about sizing a fuel cell.
Two additional methods are used to measure efficiency in different ways:
• Stack efficiency as determined from voltage and current efficiency;
• Efficiency calculation using the free reaction enthalpy, lower heat value (LHV) or
higher heat value (HHV).

Execution:

1 Set-up
When setting up and starting the equipment, follow the instructions provided in
section A: Component Descriptions for the individual components, especially
the safety instructions.
During experiments, ensure the area has adequate ventilation and keep away
from sources of ignition.
1.1 Connect the AC power pack cable to the 12V= DC power input on the FC50 Fuel Cell.
Connect the other end of the AC power pack to a source of AC power.
On the front panel of the EL200 Electronic Load ensure the toggle switch is OFF. Use
the AC power cord to connect the EL200 to a source of AC power; then turn on the
main power switch located behind the EL200 front panel.
1.2 Use two short test leads to connect the FC50 with the EL200, paying attention to the
polarity.
1.3 Attach the hydrogen supply quick-coupler to the FC50. Connect the 9-pin plug of the
hydrogen supply’s solenoid valve to the H2 SUPPLY connector on the FC50.
1.4 If you want to use the provided software program to help perform the experiment, make
the appropriate connections now. You will find instructions in section A.3 Fuel Cell
Module FC50 under the heading “Start-up” and in section A.7 Control Software.

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Work sheet 3 Efficiency of the fuel cell stack D.5

2 Start-up
Start each component as directed.
2.1 Hydrogen supply:
To start your hydrogen supply, refer to sections A.8, A.9 or A.10 of the
Component Descriptions, as appropriate for the supply you are using.
2.2 Electronic load EL200:
Ensure the 10-turn potentiometer is set to zero. Then turn ON the toggle switch on the
front panel.
2.3 FC50 software:
If you want to use the provided software program to assist with the experiment, start
the FC50 software on your PC and select experiment C.5. Wait until the program
requests you to press the FC50 START button. You will find instructions in section A.3
Fuel Cell Module FC50 under the heading “Start-up” and in section A.7 Control
Software.
2.4 Fuel cell FC50:
Ensure the fan control knob is at AUTO. Set the main switch to ON and press the
START button. After completing a system test, the green OPERATION light comes on
and the FC50 is ready for use. If an error occurs, the error code will appear in the
H2 Flow display. You will find descriptions of the errors in section A.3 Fuel Cell Module
FC50 under the heading “Error Messages and Causes”.

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Work sheet 4 Efficiency of the fuel cell stack D.5

3 Data acquisition
3.1 For these measurements, the fuel cell should be at a temperature of 40 °C. You can
reach this temperature by loading the fuel cell for a few minutes with a current of
approximately 5 A. Using the potentiometer of the EL200, increase the load current
until the Current display on the FC50 shows approximately 5 amperes. To further
cause stack temperature to rise, turn the fan control knob on the FC50 so the Fan
Power display indicates 10%.
After the temperature reaches 40 °C, ensure the load potentiometer is turned back to
zero and set fan control knob to AUTO.
3.2 Use the load potentiometer of the EL200 to set in sequence the current values given in
the following table. Wait for at least 60 s at each current setting before copying the
measured values of stack current Istack, stack voltage Vstack and hydrogen flow V&H 2 to
the measured value table.
In each series, for the first measuring point of zero-amperes, you can simply turn the
EL200 toggle switch OFF, to ensure no load is applied to the system.
Note: For reaching even hydrogen concentration at all membranes it is necessary to
purge the hydrogen channels of the fuel cell. This takes place automatically and for a
brief time visibly increases the hydrogen flow rate. If a purging occurs during the
measurement, you should restart the 60 s waiting period for that operating point. The
previously measured values are still valid.

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Work sheet 5 Efficiency of the fuel cell stack D.5

Nominal Measured values


Istack (A) Istack (A) Vstack (V) V&H 2  (ml/min)

0.0
0.2
0.5
1.0
1.5
2.0
3.0
5.0
7.0
10.0

3.3 If you are not making further measurements with the system, proceed to shut down
and switch off the system as follows:
• On the EL200, turn the potentiometer to zero, set the toggle switch to OFF, and turn
off the main power switch behind the front panel.
• On the FC50, turn the fan control knob to AUTO and turn the main switch OFF.
• Follow the correct procedure to shut down your hydrogen supply, as described in
sections A.8, A.9 or A.10 as appropriate.
• Remove the hydrogen supply from the FC50 by opening the quick-coupler.

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Work sheet 6 Efficiency of the fuel cell stack D.5

4 Determination of the stack efficiency of the fuel cell


4.1 Determine the stack efficiency stack of this fuel cell by power balance (the ratio of
delivered power to the power used).
Perform an example calculation for a selected measuring point (other than the no-load
operation point) and then calculate all values for the table. Also note the delivered
stack power Pstack in the table.
Note: The displayed values of hydrogen flow rate have been converted to the
equivalent ml/min at standard conditions (0 °C, 1.01325 bar). The heat value of
hydrogen at standard conditions is LHV = 10.8 MJ/m3.

Measured
value Calculation
Istack (A) stack Pstack (W)

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Work sheet 7 Efficiency of the fuel cell stack D.5

4.2 Transfer the calculated data from the table into the following diagram and draw the
graphs of the functions stack = f(Istack) and Pstack = f(Istack)
Briefly describe the shape of both characteristics.

Efficiency-Power comparison
1,2 60

1,0 50
Efficiency

Power Pstack (W)


0,8 40

0,6 30

0,4 20

0,2 10
P
0,0 0
0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
Stack current Istack (A)

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Work sheet 8 Efficiency of the fuel cell stack D.5

4.3 What important principles for the optimum design of fuel cells can be learned from
these characteristic curves of power and efficiency?
Consider for each principle a possible area of application, and an example of use.

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Work sheet 9 Efficiency of the fuel cell stack D.5

5 Determination of the stack efficiency from current and voltage efficiency


5.1 Determine the voltage efficiency V of the fuel cell from the measured values of 3.2.
Perform the calculation with the reversible thermodynamic voltage related to the lower
heat value (LHV) of hydrogen. Also determine the current efficiency I and then
calculate the stack efficiency stack from both.
Perform an example calculation for a selected measuring point (other than the no-load
operation point) and then calculate all values for the table.
Note: The values of the hydrogen flow rate are converted to standard conditions (0 °C,
1.01325 bar). The reversible thermodynamic voltage related to the lower heat value
LHV of hydrogen is Vrev LHV = 1.254 V, the Faraday constant F = 9.648 x 104 C/mol and
the molecular standard volume Vm = 22.4 L/mol.

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Work sheet 10 Efficiency of the fuel cell stack D.5

Measured
value Computation
Istack (A) V I stack

5.2 Transfer the calculated data from the table into the following diagram and draw the
graphs of the functions V f(Istack), I = f(Istack) and stack = f(Istack)
Briefly describe the characteristic curves and the mutual influence of the graphs on one
another.
Note: Consider and compare the characteristic processes particularly for small and
large currents.

Efficiencies of the fuel cell


1,2

1,0
Efficiency

0,8

0,6

0,4

0,2

0,0
0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
Stack current Istack (A)

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Work sheet 11 Efficiency of the fuel cell stack D.5

5.3 What determines the current efficiency and which losses decrease it? Why is the
efficiency for large currents nearly 1?

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Work sheet 12 Efficiency of the fuel cell stack D.5

5.4 Now consider the voltage efficiency more exactly. What does it affect and which losses
decrease it? Why isn’t it 1 also in the no-load operation?

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Work sheet 13 Efficiency of the fuel cell stack D.5

6 Thermodynamic view of the reference voltage


6.1 For the determination of the voltage efficiency a reference voltage is necessary.
What different ways are there to calculate this reference voltage and how might they be
used?

6.2 Briefly describe the theoretical determination of the reference voltages sought in 6.1.
Use the thermodynamic terms "formation enthalpy", "reaction enthalpy", "reaction
entropy" and "free reaction enthalpy".

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Work sheet 14 Efficiency of the fuel cell stack D.5

6.3 Calculate the voltage efficiencies based on the reference voltages in 6.1. Use them
with selected measured values from 3.2.
Discuss the results and interpret the meaning. Which calculation is most meaningful, in
order to determine the electrical efficiency of the fuel cell compared with a conventional
power station?
Note: If you don’t know the reference voltages mentioned in 6.1, you can use the
values V1 = 1.23 V, V2 = 1.254 V and V3 = 1.482 V.

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Work sheet 15 Efficiency of the fuel cell stack D.5

6.4 In step 5.4 the different losses which affect the voltage efficiency should be listed. Even
neglecting all losses which directly affect the characteristic, the voltage efficiency does
not become 1.0. Which additional deviation from the theoretical occurs in this system?
Note: Consider which thermal boundary conditions affect the formation enthalpy of the
materials.

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Work sheet 1 Set-up of a fuel cell power supply D.6

Required devices:

Description Item
I 630
Hydrogen supply (alternates) II 642
III 652
Fuel cell FC50 610
Electronic load EL200 620
Voltage converter VC100 621
Traffic light TL10 622

Arrange the devices as in the following diagram:

Fuel Cell
FC50
Hydrogen supply

Traffic Voltage Converter Electronic Load


Light VC100 EL200
TL10

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Work sheet 2 Set-up of a fuel cell power supply D.6

Task:

In this experiment a grid-independent power supply is assembled and examined. We


examine the parasitic load and the available power of the entire system as a function of the
stack current.

Execution:

1 Set-up
When setting up and starting the equipment, follow the instructions provided in
section A: Component Descriptions for the individual components, especially
the safety instructions.
During experiments, ensure the area has adequate ventilation and keep away
from sources of ignition.
1.1 Power to operate the FC50 Fuel Cell module will be provided by the VC100 Voltage
Converter. Use the provided 3-pin cable to connect the Parasitic Load output on the
VC100 Voltage Converter to the 12V= DC power input on the FC50 Fuel Cell.
1.2 On the front panel of the EL200 Electronic Load ensure the toggle switch is OFF. Use
the AC power cord to connect the EL200 to a source of AC power; then turn on the
main power switch located behind the EL200 front panel.
1.3 Use two short test leads to connect the FC50 with the EL200, paying attention to the
polarity.
1.4 Use two test leads to additionally connect the FC50 with the input of the VC100, paying
attention to the polarity.
1.5 Use two medium test leads to connect Available Power on the VC100 with the TL10
traffic light, paying attention to the polarity. Place the toggle switch on the front panel of
the TL10 in its middle position.
1.6 Attach the hydrogen supply quick-coupler to the FC50. Connect the 9-pin plug of the
hydrogen supply’s solenoid valve to the H2 SUPPLY connector on the FC50.
1.7 If you want to use the provided software program to help perform the experiment, make
the appropriate connections now. You will find instructions in section A.3 Fuel Cell
Module FC50 under the heading “Start-up” and in section A.7 Control Software.

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Work sheet 3 Set-up of a fuel cell power supply D.6

2 Start-up
Start each component as directed.
2.1 Hydrogen supply:
To start your hydrogen supply, refer to sections A.8, A.9 or A.10 of the
Component Descriptions, as appropriate for the supply you are using.
2.2 Electronic load EL200:
Ensure the 10-turn potentiometer is set to zero. Then turn ON the toggle switch on the
front panel.
2.3 FC50 software:
If you want to use the provided software program to assist with the experiment, start
the FC50 software on your PC and select experiment C.6. Wait until the program
requests you to press the FC50 START button. You will find instructions in section A.3
Fuel Cell Module FC50 under the heading “Start-up” and in section A.7 Control
Software.
2.4 Fuel cell FC50:
Ensure the fan control knob is at AUTO. Set the main switch to ON and press the
START button. After completing a system test, the green OPERATION light comes on
and the FC50 is ready for use. If an error occurs, the error code will appear in the
H2 Flow display. You will find descriptions of the errors in section A.3 Fuel Cell Module
FC50 under the heading “Error Messages and Causes”.
2.5 Voltage converter VC100:
The module starts automatically. When voltage is applied at the VC100 input, a
constant 12 V appears at the Available Power output. During start-up, when no voltage
is applied at its input, the internal battery temporarily provides 12 V at the Parasitic
Load output.

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Work sheet 4 Set-up of a fuel cell power supply D.6

3 Grid-independent fuel cell system for traffic light supply


3.1 For these measurements, the fuel cell should be at a temperature of 40 °C. You can
reach this temperature by loading the fuel cell for a few minutes with a current of
approximately 5 A. Using the potentiometer of the EL200, increase the load current
until the Current display on the FC50 shows approximately 5 amperes. To further
cause stack temperature to rise, turn the fan control knob on the FC50 so the Fan
Power display indicates 10%.
After the temperature reaches 40 °C, ensure the load potentiometer is turned back to
zero and set fan control knob to AUTO.
3.2 For this part of the test leave the TL10 traffic light switch in its middle position, so it
consumes no power. Then record the displayed FC50 and VC100 values in the
following table.

Measured
Size value
Parasitic load Pself
Stack voltage Vstack
Stack current Istack

3.3 Although no power is taken from the Available Power output of the VC100, the fuel cell
is producing a current (see Current display on the FC50).
Where is this power being used? Mention at least two consumers.

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Work sheet 5 Set-up of a fuel cell power supply D.6

3.4 Compare the parasitic load PSelf indicated by the VC100 with the stack power Pstack =
Vstack · Istack, which is being generated by the fuel cell.
Explain the difference of these values.
What is the actual power consumed by the entire system?

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Work sheet 6 Set-up of a fuel cell power supply D.6

3.5 In the following part the internal requirement Pself of the FC50, and the available power
Pusable of the traffic light are measured during the different traffic light phases. Switch
the toggle switch on the front panel of the TL10 to AUTO (lower position). Record the
displayed values of the VC100 in the following table of measured values.
Note: Because of the short duration of traffic light phases, it may be necessary to
repeat some of the measurements.

Measured values
Traffic light phase Pself (W) Pusable (W)
Green
Yellow
Red
Red-yellow

3.6 If you are not making further measurements with the system, proceed to shut down
and switch off the system as follows:
• On the EL200, turn the potentiometer to zero, set the toggle switch to OFF, and turn
off the main power switch behind the front panel.
• On the FC50, turn the fan control knob to AUTO and turn the main switch OFF.
• Follow the correct procedure to shut down your hydrogen supply, as described in
sections A.8, A.9 or A.10 as appropriate.
• Remove the hydrogen supply from the FC50 by opening the quick-coupler.
3.7 Compare the internal requirement Pself with the available power Pusable for each phase of
the light and describe the differences between phases.

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Work sheet 7 Set-up of a fuel cell power supply D.6

3.8 At which measuring point does the fuel cell system work most efficiently and what
conclusions can you draw from this?
Justify your statements and refer if necessary to questions already answered.

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Work sheet 8 Set-up of a fuel cell power supply D.6

4 Determination of the parasitic load characteristic of a fuel cell system


4.1 For the determination of the parasitic load characteristic, the traffic light module is not
needed. Set the toggle switch on the front panel of the TL10 to its middle position
(OFF) and remove the test leads between the VC100 and TL10.
4.2 If you want to use the provided software program to assist with this part of the
experiment, you must now switch off the FC50 and start the FC50 software on your
PC. Select the appropriate experiment and wait until the program requests you to press
the FC50 START button.
4.3 The recommended operating temperature is the same as in the previous part, 40 °C. If
the fuel cell has cooled, heat it again as described in 3.1.
4.4 Use the load potentiometer of the EL200 to set in sequence the current values given in
the following table.
Wait for at least 15 s at each current setting before copying the measured values of
stack current Istack stack voltage Vstack, internal requirement Pself and power of the
electronic load Pload into the measured value table.
In each series, for the first measuring point of zero-amperes, you can simply turn the
EL200 toggle switch OFF, to ensure no load is applied to the system.
Note: Although you are adjusting the load current of the EL200, make sure that the pre-
set values and displayed values you record are actually the FC50 stack current Istack.
Also be aware of the automatic safety disconnect at stack currents > 10.5 A.

Nominal Measured values calculated


Istack (A) Istack (A) Vstack (V) Pself (W) Pload (W) Pstack (W)
min
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10

4.5 If you are not making further measurements with the system, proceed to shut down
and switch off the system as described in 3.6.

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Work sheet 9 Set-up of a fuel cell power supply D.6

4.6 Transfer the function Pself = f(Istack) onto the diagram. Transfer in addition the
appropriate measured values from the table in 4.4 to the following diagram and
describe briefly the behavior of the characteristic.

Internal power requirement of the fuel cell system


8

7
Power Pself (W)

4
0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
Stack current Istack (A)

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Work sheet 10 Set-up of a fuel cell power supply D.6

4.7 The internal requirement of the fuel cell system can be attributed to different peripheral
devices (see 3.3). These internal consumers can be divided into two groups.
Identify and describe this division on the basis the characteristic curve as described in
4.6 and identify at least one consumer in each group.

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Work sheet 11 Set-up of a fuel cell power supply D.6

4.8 Compute the stack powers Pstack in the table in 4.4. Transfer onto the diagram values
from the table in 4.4 showing the difference between usable power and the calculated
power produced at the stack. Draw the characteristics Pstack = f(Istack) and Pload = f(Istack).
Note: The available power corresponds to the EL200 load Pload.

Stack power – Usable power comparison


60

50
Power P (W)

40

30

20

10

0
0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
Stack current Istack (A)

4.9 Describe and explain the process of the characteristics in diagram 4.8.
Consider the two characteristics with the internal requirement characteristic in diagram
4.6 and explain the observed deviations.

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Work sheet 12 Set-up of a fuel cell power supply D.6

5 Determination of the losses of the potential transformer


5.1 In this part of the experiment the losses which arise during the DC voltage
transformation in the VC100 are determined. The EL200 must be attached to the
Available Power output of the VC100. Switch the FC50 and EL200 off before you
change these connections. Make sure that the potentiometer of the EL200 is set to
zero.
5.2 The recommended operating temperature is the same as in the previous part, 40 °C. If
the fuel cell has cooled, heat it again as described in 3.1.
5.3 Use the load potentiometer of the EL200 to set in sequence the current values given in
the following table.
Wait for at least 15 s at each current setting before copying the measured values of
stack current Istack, and power of the electronic load Pload to the measured value table.
In each series, for the first measuring point of zero-amperes, you can simply turn the
EL200 toggle switch OFF, to ensure no load is applied to the system.
Carefully increase the stack current Istack greater than 8 A and note the behavior of the
system.
Note: Although you are adjusting the load current of the EL200, make sure that the pre-
set values and displayed values you record are actually the FC50 stack current Istack.
Also be aware of the automatic safety disconnect at stack currents > 10.5 A.

Nominal Measured values


Istack (A) Istack (A) Pload (W)
min
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10

5.4 If you are not making further measurements with the system, proceed to shut down
and switch off the system as described in 3.6.

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Work sheet 13 Set-up of a fuel cell power supply D.6

5.5 Transfer the measured values from the table in 5.3 to draw a characteristic curve for
the available power of the fuel cell system with voltage converter. Also transfer the
characteristic curve for available power without transducer losses from the diagram in
4.8.
Note: The usable power corresponds to the EL200 load power.

Converter Losses
60

50

40
Power P (W)

30

20

10

0
0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
Stack current Istack (A)

5.6 Describe and explain the process of the characteristic curves. Describe the differences
between the curves, and refer to the diagram in 4.8.

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Work sheet 14 Set-up of a fuel cell power supply D.6

5.7 What is the function of a voltage converter in a fuel cell system; is it possible to operate
without it?

5.8 Summarize your conclusions from this experiment.


How can one increase the available power of a fuel cell system during continuous
stack power? Suggest at least two optimization possibilities.

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Work sheet 1 Efficiency of a fuel cell power supply D.7

Required devices:

Description Item
I 630
Hydrogen supply (alternates) II 642
III 652
Fuel cell FC50 610
Electronic load EL200 620
Voltage converter VC100 621

Arrange the devices as in the following diagram:

Fuel Cell
FC50
Hydrogen supply

Voltage Converter Electronic Load


VC100 EL200

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Work sheet 2 Efficiency of a fuel cell power supply D.7

Task:

The goal of this experiment is to determine the efficiency of a grid-independent fuel cell
system. The terms system efficiency and stack efficiency are explained and measured for the
experimental system. In addition the effect of parasitic load on the system efficiency is
examined.

Execution:

1 Set-up
When setting up and starting the equipment, follow the instructions provided in
section A: Component Descriptions for the individual components, especially
the safety instructions.
During experiments, ensure the area has adequate ventilation and keep away
from sources of ignition.
1.1 Power to operate the FC50 Fuel Cell module will be provided by the VC100 Voltage
Converter. Use the provided 3-pin cable to connect the Parasitic Load output on the
VC100 Voltage Converter to the 12V= DC power input on the FC50 Fuel Cell.
1.2 On the front panel of the EL200 Electronic Load ensure the toggle switch is OFF. Use
the AC power cord to connect the EL200 to a source of AC power; then turn on the
main power switch located behind the EL200 front panel.
1.3 Use two short test leads to connect the FC50 with the EL200, paying attention to the
polarity.
1.4 Use two test leads to additionally connect the FC50 with the input of the VC100, paying
attention to the polarity.
1.5 Attach the hydrogen supply quick-coupler to the FC50. Connect the 9-pin plug of the
hydrogen supply’s solenoid valve to the H2 SUPPLY connector on the FC50.
1.6 If you want to use the provided software program to help perform the experiment, make
the appropriate connections now. You will find instructions in section A.3 Fuel Cell
Module FC50 under the heading “Start-up” and in section A.7 Control Software.

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Work sheet 3 Efficiency of a fuel cell power supply D.7

2 Start-up
Start each component as directed.
2.1 Hydrogen supply:
To start your hydrogen supply, refer to sections A.8, A.9 or A.10 of the
Component Descriptions, as appropriate for the supply you are using.
2.2 Electronic load EL200:
Ensure the 10-turn potentiometer is set to zero. Then turn ON the toggle switch on the
front panel.
2.3 FC50 software:
If you want to use the provided software program to assist with the experiment, start
the FC50 software on your PC and select experiment C.7. Wait until the program
requests you to press the FC50 START button. You will find instructions in section A.3
Fuel Cell Module FC50 under the heading “Start-up” and in section A.7 Control
Software.
2.4 Fuel cell FC50:
Ensure the fan control knob is at AUTO. Set the main switch to ON and press the
START button. After completing a system test, the green OPERATION light comes on
and the FC50 is ready for use. If an error occurs, the error code will appear in the
H2 Flow display. You will find descriptions of the errors in section A.3 Fuel Cell Module
FC50 under the heading “Error Messages and Causes”.
2.5 Voltage converter VC100:
The module starts automatically. When voltage is applied at its input, a constant 12 V
appears at the Available Power output. If no voltage is applied at its input, the internal
battery provides 12 V at the Parasitic Load output.

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Work sheet 4 Efficiency of a fuel cell power supply D.7

3 Data acquisition
3.1 For these measurements, the fuel cell should be at a temperature of 40 °C. You can
reach this temperature by loading the fuel cell for a few minutes with a current of
approximately 5 A. Using the potentiometer of the EL200, increase the load current
until the Current display on the FC50 shows approximately 5 amperes. To further
cause stack temperature to rise, turn the fan control knob on the FC50 so the Fan
Power display indicates 10%.
After the temperature reaches 40 °C, ensure the load potentiometer is turned back to
zero and set fan control knob to AUTO.
3.2 Use the load potentiometer of the EL200 to set in sequence the current values given in
the following table. Wait for at least 60 s at each current setting before copying the
measured values of stack current Istack, stack voltage Vstack and hydrogen flow rate V&H 2 
to the measured value table.
In each series, for the first measuring point of zero-amperes, you can simply turn the
EL200 toggle switch OFF, to ensure no load is applied to the system.
Note: For reaching even hydrogen concentration at all membranes it is necessary to
purge the hydrogen channels of the fuel cell. This takes place automatically and for a
brief time visibly increases the hydrogen flow rate. If a purging occurs during the
measurement, you should restart the 60 s waiting period for that operating point. The
previously measured values are still valid.

Note: Although you are adjusting the load current of the EL200, make sure that the pre-
set values and displayed values you record are actually the FC50 stack current Istack.
Also be aware of the automatic safety shut-down at stack currents > 10.5 A.

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Work sheet 5 Efficiency of a fuel cell power supply D.7

Nominal Measured values


Istack (A) Istack (A) Vstack (V) V&H 2 (ml/min) Pload (W)
min
1.2
1.5
2.0
2.5
3.0
4.0
6.0
8.0
10.0

3.3 If you are not making further measurements with the system, proceed to shut down
and switch off the system as follows:
• On the EL200, turn the potentiometer to zero, set the toggle switch to OFF, and turn
off the main power switch behind the front panel.
• On the FC50, turn the fan control knob to AUTO and turn the main switch OFF.
• Follow the correct procedure to shut down your hydrogen supply, as described in
sections A.8, A.9 or A.10 as appropriate.
• Remove the hydrogen supply from the FC50 by opening the quick-coupler.

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Work sheet 6 Efficiency of a fuel cell power supply D.7

4 Calculation of the overall efficiency


4.1 Using the measured values in 3.2 determine the ratio of delivered power to consumed
power (the overall efficiency) total of this fuel cell system.
Perform an example calculation for a selected measuring point (other than the no-load
operation point) and then calculate all values for the table. Also transfer the delivered
electrical power of the EL200 Pload into the table.
Note: The measured values of the hydrogen flow rate are converted to standard
conditions (0 °C, 1.01325 bar). The lower heating value of hydrogen at standard
conditions is LHV = 10.8 MJ/m3.

Measured value Calculated


Pload (W) total

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Work sheet 7 Efficiency of a fuel cell power supply D.7

4.2 Transfer the values from the table in 4.1 to the following diagram and draw the graph of
total = f(Pload).

Overall efficiency
1.0

0.8
total
Efficiency

0.6

0.4

0.2

0.0
0 5 10 15 20 25 30 35 40
Power Pload (W)

4.3 Describe the course of the overall efficiency in the resulting characteristic curve.
What is a favorable power range?

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Work sheet 8 Efficiency of a fuel cell power supply D.7

5 Calculation of stack and system efficiency


5.1 Using the appropriate power ratios and the measured values in 3.2 determine the stack
efficiency stack and the system efficiency sys the fuel cell system.
Perform an example calculation for a selected measuring point (other than the no-load
operation point) and then calculate all values for the table. Also transfer the delivered
electrical power of the EL200 Pload into the table.
Note: The measured values of the hydrogen flow rate are converted to standard
conditions (0 °C, 1.01325 bar). The lower heating value of hydrogen at standard
conditions is LHV = 10.8 MJ/m3.

Measured
value Calculated
Pload (W) stack sys

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Work sheet 9 Efficiency of a fuel cell power supply D.7

5.2 Transfer the values from the table in 5.1 to the following diagram and draw the graphs
of stack = f(Pload) and sys = f(Pload).

Stack and system efficiency


1,0

0,8
Efficiency

0,6

0,4

0,2

0,0
0 5 10 15 20 25 30 35 40
Power Pload (W)

5.3 Describe the characteristic curves of stack and system efficiency and compare them
with one another.
Where do the optimum operating points of the fuel cell system lie, related to each
efficiency?

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Work sheet 10 Efficiency of a fuel cell power supply D.7

5.4 What is the relationship between system, stack and overall efficiency?
Demonstrate this relationship using the individual efficiencies in 4.1 and 5.1 for any
measuring point except the no-load point.

5.5 Consider which losses affect the individual efficiencies.


Which of the individual losses are particular to a laboratory system and thus would not
occur in an actual grid-independent power supply?

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Work sheet 1 Fuel cell application I: Remote traffic light D.8

Required devices:

Description Item
I 630
Hydrogen supply (alternates) II 642
III 652
Fuel cell FC50 610
Electronic load EL200 620
Voltage converter VC100 621
Traffic light TL10 622

Arrange the devices as in the following diagram:

Fuel Cell
FC50
Hydrogen supply

Traffic Voltage Converter Electronic Load


Light VC100 EL200
TL10

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Work sheet 2 Fuel cell application I: Remote traffic light D.8

Task:

When using a fuel cell system as a stand-alone power supply it is necessary to anticipate
fuel consumption over a planned interval. Knowing the amount of fuel, the required storage
volume can be computed. Using the example of a traffic light, this experiment attempts to
determine its fuel requirement for a certain period and the needed storage volume. In
addition, different hydrogen storage methods are compared, and a further comparison made
with battery operation.

Execution:

1 Set-up
When setting up and starting the equipment, follow the instructions provided in
section A: Component Descriptions for the individual components, especially
the safety instructions.
During experiments, ensure the area has adequate ventilation and keep away
from sources of ignition.
1.1 Power to operate the FC50 Fuel Cell module will be provided by the VC100 Voltage
Converter. Use the provided 3-pin cable to connect the Parasitic Load output on the
VC100 Voltage Converter to the 12V= DC power input on the FC50 Fuel Cell.
1.2 On the front panel of the EL200 Electronic Load ensure the toggle switch is OFF. Use
the AC power cord to connect the EL200 to a source of AC power; then turn on the
main power switch located behind the EL200 front panel.
1.3 Use two short test leads to connect the FC50 with the EL200, paying attention to the
polarity.
1.4 Use two test leads to additionally connect the FC50 with the input of the VC100, paying
attention to the polarity.
1.5 Use two short test leads to connect Available Power on the VC100 with the TL10 traffic
light, paying attention to the polarity. Place the toggle switch on the front panel of the
TL10 in its middle position.
1.6 Attach the hydrogen supply quick-coupler to the FC50. Connect the 9-pin plug of the
hydrogen supply’s solenoid valve to the H2 SUPPLY connector on the FC50.
1.7 It is necessary to use the provided software program to perform the experiment. Make
the appropriate connections now. You will find instructions in section A.3 Fuel Cell
Module FC50 under the heading “Start-up” and in section A.7 Control Software.

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Work sheet 3 Fuel cell application I: Remote traffic light D.8

2 Start-up
Start each component as directed.
2.1 Hydrogen supply:
To start your hydrogen supply, refer to sections A.8, A.9 or A.10 of the
Component Descriptions, as appropriate for the supply you are using.
2.2 Electronic load EL200:
Ensure the 10-turn potentiometer is set to zero. Then turn ON the toggle switch on the
front panel.
2.3 FC50 software:
You must use the provided software program to assist with this experiment. Start the
FC50 software on your PC and select experiment C.8. Wait until the program requests
you to press the FC50 START button. You will find instructions in section A.3 Fuel Cell
Module FC50 under the heading “Start-up” and in section A.7 Control Software.
2.4 Fuel cell FC50:
Ensure the fan control knob is at AUTO. Set the main switch to ON and press the
START button. After completing a system test, the green OPERATION light comes on
and the FC50 is ready for use. If an error occurs, the error code will appear in the
H2 Flow display. You will find descriptions of the errors in section A.3 Fuel Cell Module
FC50 under the heading “Error Messages and Causes”.
2.5 Voltage converter VC100:
The module starts automatically. When voltage is applied at its input, a constant 12 V
appears at the Available Power output. If no voltage is applied at its input, the internal
battery provides 12 V at the Parasitic Load output.

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Work sheet 4 Fuel cell application I: Remote traffic light D.8

3 Data acquisition
3.1 For these measurements, the fuel cell should be at a temperature of 40 °C. You can
reach this temperature by loading the fuel cell for a few minutes with a current of
approximately 5 A. Use the control software to set a load current of approximately 5
amperes. To further cause stack temperature to rise, set the FC50 fan power at 10%.
After the temperature reaches 40 °C, the software switches off the EL200 and returns
the fan power to AUTO. The system is ready for use.
3.2 With the help of the FC50 software hydrogen consumption and supplied power can be
determined. Any arbitrary load could be attached to the Available power terminals of
the VC100. However the following measurement is done with the TL10 Traffic Light in
order to make the results of measurement consistent.
Data for ten traffic light intervals will be taken. The TL10 front panel toggle switch must
be set to AUTO. The software will read the instantaneous values of the output and the
hydrogen flow rate. Subsequently, the consumption measurement is started and
stopped after exactly ten cycles. The indicated instantaneous values are integrated
(also visibly) at a 200 ms sampling rate in a named tabular data file. At the end of the
measurement the integrated values are automatically written the end of the table.
All measured values necessary for the evaluation are stored in the named file.
3.3 If you are not making further measurements with the system, proceed to shut down
and switch off the system as follows:
• On the EL200, turn the potentiometer to zero, set the toggle switch to OFF, and turn
off the main power switch behind the front panel.
• On the FC50, turn the fan control knob to AUTO and turn the main switch OFF.
• Follow the correct procedure to shut down your hydrogen supply, as described in
sections A.8, A.9 or A.10 as appropriate.
• Remove the hydrogen supply from the FC50 by opening the quick-coupler.

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Work sheet 5 Fuel cell application I: Remote traffic light D.8

4 Evaluation of the measured values


4.1 To evaluate the measurements open the tab-separated data file in a spreadsheet
program such as MS Excel.
4.2 Using these tabular measured values make a power-time diagram of the available
power over a traffic light interval.
Mark in the diagram the individual traffic light phases and read the duration and the
power of each individual phase.
Determine with the data of the measured value table the duration and the average
power of a traffic light interval Pusable .

F Power demand in a traffic-light cycle

6
Power Pusable (W)

Time (s)

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Work sheet 6 Fuel cell application I: Remote traffic light D.8

4.3 Compute the performed electrical work Wusable of the entire traffic light interval using the
mean power Pusable . Also compute the performed electrical work using the sum of
individual phases.

4.4 Compare the computed values in 4.3 with the noted value over ten measurements from
the measured value file.
Explain the difference and describe the advantages of performing the measurement
over several intervals.

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Work sheet 7 Fuel cell application I: Remote traffic light D.8

4.5 Produce a diagram of V&H 2 = f(t) over the same time interval as the diagram in 4.2 and
compare them.
How do you explain the differences of the courses of the curves?

Hydrogen flow rate in a traffic-light cycle

140
Hydrogen flow rate VH2 (ml/min)

120

100

80

60

40

20

0
Time (s)

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Work sheet 8 Fuel cell application I: Remote traffic light D.8

5 Interpretation of hydrogen reservoirs


5.1 In the following, we will use measured values to specify different hydrogen reservoir
systems for a building-site traffic light.
The building-site traffic light is to operate for two weeks. It will need hydrogen at twice
the rate of the FC50 system.
How much hydrogen will be needed for continuous operation?

5.2 To store the hydrogen volume computed in 5.1 three different possibilities exist:
compressed gas storage, liquid gas storage and metal hydride storage.
Compute volumes and mass of the different storage methods for the necessary
hydrogen.
Then examine the results regarding their targeted application from a technical and
economic viewpoint.
For the computation use the following volumetric and gravimetric memory densities for
hydrogen:
Compressed gas storage (350 bar): 22.3 g+/L, 40 g+/kg
Liquid gas storage (20 K): 45 g+/L, 112 g+/kg
Metal hydride storage (298 K): 63 g+/L, 14 g+/kg.

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Work sheet 9 Fuel cell application I: Remote traffic light D.8

5.3 A conventional building-site traffic light operates with a lead storage battery. It has a
volumetric memory density of 75 Wh/l, and gravimetric memory density of 30 Wh/kg.
Compute the volume and mass of a lead storage battery that could store the same
energy as the hydrogen storage in 5.2.
Compare the result with the calculation from 5.2. What should be considered in this
comparison?

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Work sheet 1 Fuel cell application II: Fuel cell car D.9

Required devices:

Description Item
I 630
Hydrogen supply (alternates) II 642
III 652
Fuel cell FC50 610
Electronic load EL200 620
Voltage converter VC100 621

Arrange the devices as in the following diagram:

Fuel Cell
FC50
Hydrogen supply

Voltage Converter Electronic Load


VC100 EL200

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Work sheet 2 Fuel cell application II: Fuel cell car D.9

Task:

The fuel cell is predicted to have a strong future in the motoring industry. There is
consequently much interest in quickly examining and optimizing the fuel cell for this
application.
In this experiment we examine the behavior of the system using different load profiles and by
extension the use of fuel cells in motor vehicles. The advantages and disadvantages of
various fuels are pointed out.

Execution:

1 Set-up
When setting up and starting the equipment, follow the instructions provided in
section A: Component Descriptions for the individual components, especially
the safety instructions.
During experiments, ensure the area has adequate ventilation and keep away
from sources of ignition.
1.1 Power to operate the FC50 Fuel Cell module will be provided by the VC100 Voltage
Converter. Use the provided 3-pin cable to connect the Parasitic Load output on the
VC100 Voltage Converter to the 12V= DC power input on the FC50 Fuel Cell.
1.2 On the front panel of the EL200 Electronic Load ensure the toggle switch is OFF. Use
the AC power cord to connect the EL200 to a source of AC power; then turn on the
main power switch located behind the EL200 front panel.
1.3 Use two short test leads to connect the FC50 with the EL200, paying attention to the
polarity.
1.4 Use two test leads to additionally connect the FC50 with the input of the VC100, paying
attention to the polarity.
1.5 Use two short test leads to connect Available Power on the VC100 with the TL10 traffic
light, paying attention to the polarity. Place the toggle switch on the front panel of the
TL10 in its central position.
1.6 Attach the hydrogen supply quick-coupler to the FC50. Connect the 9-pin plug of the
hydrogen supply’s solenoid valve to the H2 SUPPLY connector on the FC50.
1.7 It is necessary to use the provided software program to perform the experiment. Make
the appropriate connections now. You will find instructions in section A.3 Fuel Cell
Module FC50 under the heading “Start-up” and in section A.7 Control Software.

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Work sheet 3 Fuel cell application II: Fuel cell car D.9

2 Start-up
Start each component as directed.
2.1 Hydrogen supply:
To start your hydrogen supply, refer to sections A.8, A.9 or A.10 of the
Component Descriptions, as appropriate for the supply you are using.
2.2 Electronic load EL200:
Ensure the 10-turn potentiometer is set to zero. Then turn ON the toggle switch on the
front panel.
2.3 FC50 software:
You must use the provided software program to assist with this experiment. Start the
FC50 software on your PC and select experiment C.9. Wait until the program requests
you to press the FC50 START button. You will find instructions in section A.3 Fuel Cell
Module FC50 under the heading “Start-up” and in section A.7 Control Software.
2.4 Fuel cell FC50:
Ensure the fan control knob is at AUTO. Set the main switch to ON and press the
START button. After completing a system test, the green OPERATION light comes on
and the FC50 is ready for use. If an error occurs, the error code will appear in the
H2 Flow display. You will find descriptions of the errors in section A.3 Fuel Cell Module
FC50 under the heading “Error Messages and Causes”.
2.5 Voltage converter VC100:
The module starts automatically. When voltage is applied at its input, a constant 12 V
appears at the Available Power output. If no voltage is applied at its input, the internal
battery provides 12 V at the Parasitic Load output.

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Work sheet 4 Fuel cell application II: Fuel cell car D.9

3 Data acquisition
3.1 For these measurements, the fuel cell should be at a temperature of 40 °C. You can
reach this temperature by loading the fuel cell for a few minutes with a current of
approximately 5 A. Use the control software to set a load current of approximately 5
amperes. To further cause stack temperature to rise, set the FC50 fan power at 10%.
After the temperature reaches 40 °C, the software switches off the EL200 and returns
the fan power to AUTO. The system is ready for use.
3.2 The "FC50 software" now automatically runs through two different load profiles. As a
basis for comparison, the system operates as long in each profile as it takes for the
EL200 to consume 2500 Ws. Additionally the consumed hydrogen volume for each
load profile is indicated.
The first profile represents a constant load within the range of the efficiency optimum.
For comparison a repeating changing-load cycle will execute, consisting of full load,
partial load and no-load operation sections. The delivered power and the associated
hydrogen flow rate can be seen in the diagram over the time. Both tabular values are
additionally stored at 200 ms intervals in a measured value file. At the conclusion of
both load profiles the hydrogen volumes used in each case and the performed
electrical work of the table are appended. These data are the basis of the following
evaluation.
3.3 If you are not making further measurements with the system, proceed to shut down
and switch off the system as follows:
• On the EL200, turn the potentiometer to zero, set the toggle switch to OFF, and turn
off the main power switch behind the front panel.
• On the FC50, turn the fan control knob to AUTO and turn the main switch OFF.
• Follow the correct procedure to shut down your hydrogen supply, as described in
sections A.8, A.9 or A.10 as appropriate.
• Remove the hydrogen supply from the FC50 by opening the quick-coupler.

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Work sheet 5 Fuel cell application II: Fuel cell car D.9

4 Evaluation of the measured values


4.1 To evaluate the measurements open the tab-separated data file in a spreadsheet
program such as MS Excel.
4.2 Compare the consumed hydrogen volume of both load profiles.
What causes the differences, although about the same electrical work was performed?

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Work sheet 6 Fuel cell application II: Fuel cell car D.9

4.3 Using the spreadsheet program transfer the collected values to a diagram of the
delivered electrical power Pdel and the hydrogen flow rate V&H 2 over the time t for a load
change cycle.
Describe and justify the processes of both characteristics.

Operation with a changing load


35 700

30 600

Flow rate VH2 (ml/min)


Delivered power Pdel (W)

25 500

20 400

15 300

10 200

5 100

0 0
Time (s)

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Work sheet 7 Fuel cell application II: Fuel cell car D.9

4.4 Compute the efficiency using the delivered (electrical) and supplied (hydrogen) power
for each load range in the changing-load trial. Compare these values with the efficiency
in the constant-load trial.
In which load range does the different hydrogen consumption of each load profile
become particularly clear? What saving potential exists here?

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Work sheet 8 Fuel cell application II: Fuel cell car D.9

4.5 What are load profiles good for generally?


Then consider in which connection the used load profiles in the automotive sector
could to be used and justify your answer.

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Work sheet 9 Fuel cell application II: Fuel cell car D.9

5 Comparison: Fuel cell – combustion engine


5.1 The fuel cell, in connection with an electric motor, represents a feasible replacement
for the combustion engine (e.g. in the automobile).
Describe the advantages of the combination of fuel cell and electric motor as against
the combustion engine on the basis of energy transformation chains.
Discuss the relevant efficiencies, to which the respective transformation chain is
subject. Which advantages concerning the operating temperature result for the fuel
cell?

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Work sheet 10 Fuel cell application II: Fuel cell car D.9

5.2 With the use of fuel cells in motor vehicles the required fuels will change.
List different storage possibilities for hydrogen and compare these with conventional
fuels for combustion engines using characteristic data and suitable graphics.

Volumetric energy density Gravimetric energy density


Fuel
(kWh/L) (kWh/kg)

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Work sheet 11 Fuel cell application II: Fuel cell car D.9

5.3 On a fuel cell vehicle a fuel storage is to be specified so that the vehicle with a single
tank filling can travel the same distance as a vehicle with combustion engine (gasoline)
with 30 L of fuel in its tank . The overall efficiency of the fuel cell vehicle is 40 %, that of
the vehicle with combustion engine 20 %.
Compare the mass and volume of compressed gas, liquid gas and metal hydride
storage for hydrogen, as well as a methanol tank, and the equivalent values of a
gasoline tank.
Discuss your result and then choose a suitable storage. Under which simplifications,
related to the hydrogen reservoirs, did you perform the calculations and how does this
affect the result?

Fuel Volume (L) Mass (kg)

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Work sheet 12 Fuel cell application II: Fuel cell car D.9

5.4 Compare the structure of the drive train of a fuel cell vehicle with that of a combustion
engine vehicle.
Which advantages result for the fuel cell vehicle?

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Work sheet 13 Fuel cell application II: Fuel cell car D.9

5.5 A fuel cell vehicle is to be propelled with an asynchronous engine.


How would you control the rotational speed and how could the power be delivered?

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