Fuel cell vehicles: Reducing costs means having to use monitoring systems: Page 2 of 4

July 07, 2016 //By Markus Schuster, Smart Testsolutions GmbH
Fuel cell vehicles: Reducing costs means having to use monitoring systems
In discussions about electric mobility the main focus is currently on battery-powered electric cars. Although fuel cell vehicles running on hydrogen actually offer advantages in terms of range and energy supply, the technology involved is still far too expensive at present. The use of less expen-sive materials could help, however extensive testing and continuous monitoring of the fuel cells would then be necessary.
provide detailed information on the condition of the stack at all times and so enable users to react promptly to critical operating states.

The advantages of individual cell monitoring

So-called Cell Voltage Monitoring (CVM) systems are thus an important component of the corresponding test benches employed in car manufacturers' development departments. The standard procedure is to monitor the fuel cell stack as a complete system. This does however have certain disadvantages, as it does not permit the precise localisation of any faults occurring. Only with individual cell monitoring such as that provided by the MCM IntelliProbe system from SMART TESTSOLUTIONS is it possible to gain an in-depth insight into the situation inside the stack. Critical operating states are not just detected, they can also be accurately pinpointed.

An MCM IntelliProbe measurement system consists of up to 42 ten-channel
measurement modules, a link module and a bus termination tool.
It can also be extended to include the MCM Master
Module offering functions such as real-time local data processing.

A CVM system has to satisfy a whole host of requirements. Stationary test bench applications demand a high level of measurement accuracy in combination with a high scanning rate. This permits detailed examination of how the systems react to changes of state, for example changes in load. Certain designers also expect an extended measuring range to allow the simulation of critical operating states which cause the cell voltages to drop into the negative range. A further important aspect in the development of fuel cell vehicles is the investigation of how the systems are affected by ambient conditions such as temperature and moisture. The monitoring technology employed must therefore be capable of supplying perfect results even at temperatures down to as low as -40°C and the electronics must be protected against the ingress of moisture.

The particular challenges of on-board use

The demands made of the monitoring technology are even

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