“To comply with the Kyoto Protocol, energy companies are seeking more efficient power generation strategies. One approach is to combine electricity and heat generation in household micro-cogeneration plants using proton exchange membrane fuel cells (PEM-FCs).
PEM-FCs present complex control challenges. The gas mixture entering the fuel cell must meet strict requirements at all times, and the load dynamics must not affect or destabilize the operation of the stack. Faulty operating conditions can destroy the stack. The gas generation and clean-up units and their heat integration constitute major parts of the fuel cell system, adding complexity to the control design problem.
At EUtech Scientific Engineering, we had to build a fuel cell control system before the fuel cell plant was available, which meant that we could not test the controller in the actual plant under real operating conditions. We overcame this problem by using Model-Based Design and rapid prototyping: We used a Simulink model of the fuel cell to design the controller. Simulation and automatic code generation enabled us to perform intricate test sequences quickly, repeatedly, and economically…”
By Francesco Turoni, Abas Sadatsakak, Michael Mlynski, Alexander Hlawenka, and Michael Schreiber, EUtech
This article appeared in The MathWorks News & Notes, June 2007