Pefc Drive Electric Vehicle

K.Kishida, M. Tanaka, K. Kanai, Y. Iwahashi, K.Tsumura Fukui University of Technology, 3-6-1 Gakuen, Fukui City Fukui Prefecture, 910 Japan

1. Fuel Cells for Electric Vehicle

Efforts have been made to develop fuel cell powered EVs (electric vehicles) in several countries and to demonstrate its high potential. Since 1990 fuel cell research has been conducted at FUT (the Fukui University of Technology) beginning with PAFC. Research effort is now being focused upon the application of fuel cells to the EV drive as this technology shows great future potential, particularly in the area concerning environmental protection.

PEFC (Polymer Electrolyte Fuel Cell) has been chosen as the fuel cell for the EV power source because it possesses an inherent high power density and it also has another important feature ; operation can be started under ambient temperature without preheating.

The principal objective of this research is to pursue the optimum system of a PEFC drive EV. The size of the prototype vehicle in the university project is limited to a certain range and the capacity of the PEFC stack is also limited, for the time being anyway, as the PEFC technology is still under developmental stage in Japan. A 1.5 kW class PEFC stack has become available for the research at FUT by courtesy of a PEFC developer.

Fig.l A 1.5kW PEFC Stack

In order to design an optimum system of a PEFC drive EV, thorough studies on the PEFC stack characteristics have been undertaken to clarify and to optimize the interface conditions.

Fundamental characteristics of the PEFC stack are discussed first. With this knowledge, the power conversion and transmission system should be designed taking into account the compatibility between the fuel cell stack performance and the power demand of the vehicle.

2. Characteristics of PEFC Stack

The vehicle's PEFC stack is one of the prototype stacks in the stage of research and development. The stack consists of 25 cells having the effective cell area of 225 cm2. An internal humidifier is integrated in the stack to control the humidity of the gases, both fuel and oxidant. The exterior view of the stack is shown in Fig.l. The performance of the stack has been measured under various operating conditions. ,,

The stack voltage characteristics and the resultant output power, with change in current (current density), are shown in Fig.2. and Fig.3.

Fig.2 Voltage vs. Current Density Fig.3 Power vs. Current Density

Characteristics Characteristics

Fig.2 Voltage vs. Current Density Fig.3 Power vs. Current Density

Characteristics Characteristics

A test to confirm the response characteristics of power supply build-up for a sudden increase in power demand shows a satisfactorily quick response in power increase from the stack as is shown in Fig.4. Frequent power change for a short time duration, which would take place during vehicle operation, is simulated in a typical form seen in Fig.5. This resulted in a slight change of the average cell voltage, but this should not affect vehicle operation.

Although the data are not shown for the characteristics that depend on different gas utilization factors, tests have been conducted to monitor any effect or change in performance. There were no noticeable change within the range of possible operating conditions.

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