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Control, Management, and Optimisation of Hybrid Proton Exchange Membrane Fuel Cell Systems

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I will introduce our research on proton exchange membrane fuel cells (PEMFC) in my lab for the past twelve years. The talk includes three parts: PEMFC control, power management of hybrid systems, and system optimization. PEMFC is a promising alternative energy source because of its advantageous properties, such as low operating temperature, high efficiency, and low pollution. It produces electricity and water by consuming hydrogen and oxygen, with very complicated electrochemistry reactions. However, from a systems point of view, we can treat it as a multivariable linear system with system uncertainties, so that we can apply control and management techniques to improve system performance.

In the first part of the talk, we derive the transfer functions of the PEMFC by identification experiments. Then we apply robust control techniques to guarantee system stability and performance. We start from standard robust control, to fixed-order robust control that is much easier to implement on microchips. Finally, we design robust PID control because of industry preferences. These controllers are shown to improve the stability, performance and efficiencies of PEMFC systems.

Second, we integrate the PEMFC with batteries and other energy sources, such as solar cells and wind turbines. There are two main applications: the stationary PEMFC systems and PEMFC vehicles. Through proper power management, the system can provide uninterrupted power for electric vehicles and important infrastructures, e.g. as traffic and telecom stations. We also consider hydrogen generation, e.g. borohydride and electrolysis, to solve the problems of hydrogen storage and transportation.

Finally, we analyse the costs and reliability of the hybrid PEMFC systems. Considering Loss of Power Supply Probability (LPSP) and component costs, we are able to significantly reduce the system costs, i.e. we can derive the optimal system sizes that provides sustainable energy at the minimal system cost.

Bio: Fu-Cheng Wang was born in Taipei, Taiwan, in 1968. He received the B.S. and M.Sc. in mechanical engineering from National Taiwan University, Taipei, Taiwan, in 1990 and 1992, respectively. He obtained a Ph.D. in control engineering from Cambridge University, U.K., in 2002. From 2001 to 2003 he worked as a Research Associate in the Control Group of the Engineering Department, University of Cambridge, U.K. Since 2003 he has been with the Control Group of Mechanical Engineering Department at National Taiwan University, in which he is now a Professor. His research interests include robust control, fuel cell systems, inerter research, suspension control, precision engineering, medical engineering, and embedded systems.

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