Fuel Cell Technology: Reaching Towards Commercialization

Chapter 8: Power Conditioning and Control of Fuel Cell Systems

Elias W. Faraclas, Syed S. Islam, A. F. M. Anwar

8.1 Introduction

The development of Fuel Cell technology, an alternative energy source, involves direct conversion of chemical energy to electrical energy through a controlled chemical reaction. This has attracted attention due to the following attributes:

  • This is inherently clean (water and CO 2 byproducts).

  • Absence of moving parts makes the system inherently reliable.

  • Also very quiet as there is no combustion

  • All fuel cells are based on hydrogen, which is an abundant natural resource.

The application of fuel cell-based technology may be in a wide variety of systems, namely:

  • Electrical power generation for homes and businesses is attractive mainly for the reduction of pollutants as well as an end to dependency on the limited supply of fossil fuels.

  • Fuel cells to power transportation: trains, busses, automobiles similar motivation.

  • Also a huge interest in using small-scale integrated fuel cells to power portable electronics. Its advantages, over traditional [1] batteries are the much higher available power densities and the near instantaneous refueling / recharging time.

As evident from the list of possible applications the development of Fuel Cells covers the entire spectrum of power generation ranging from mega-watts (MW) to watts. This in turn requires the development of different methods of power generation as evident form the different technologies, namely, Proton Exchange Membrane Fuel Cell, Phosphoric, Acid Fuel Cell, and has been discussed in detail in previous chapters.

The reliability of the generated power, however, has yet to be addressed. It...

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