Fuel Cells

Carbon-neutral power for the future

Can a simple chemical reaction be the future of energy? Many companies seem to think so. That’s why they are investing in and developing hydrogen fuel cells. Hydrogen fuel cells are an efficient, clean and reliable alternative energy source for electric vehicles, a power source for commercial, industrial and residential building and more. Fuel cells can be more than 80% efficient and emit only water, not carbon dioxide or other harmful pollutants. And, in addition, fuel cells are much quieter than conventional energy producers.

A fuel cell, which consists of an anode, cathode and an electrolyte membrane, combines hydrogen and oxygen to generate electricity, heat and water. Multiple fuel cells are assembled into a stack to obtain the desired output current.

In order to ensure that a fuel cell stack meets specifications, it undergoes a series of tests, including performance and durability tests. In a performance test, the fuel cell is subjected to a varying load, and the resulting I-V curve is compared to the specification. In a durability test, the fuel cell stack is charged and discharged many times to ensure that it will meet its operating life specification.

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Fuel cell performance is usually indicated via polarization curves by measuring its voltage and current. A durability test is the test after fuel cell stack reaches operating conditions, the stack is subjected to a continuous series of charge/discharge cycles to ensure that it will work safely and reliably in the field.

For both tests, the use of an electronic load is key. To perform these tests, EA Elektro Automatik, the leading supplier of DC power solutions, offers programmable, regenerative DC electronic loads. EA electronic loads feature a programmable resistance mode or an X-Y table mode to help engineers simulate different load conditions. And, the regenerative DC electronic loads recycle energy to the grid, helping to keep test costs down.


Application Solutions

Fuel Cell Stack Performance Test

Simulation of different VI characteristics 

Constant Resistance Mode 

Users can program the electronic load to present a specific resistance, allowing it to draw the desired current from the fuel cell stack. Users can easily adjust this resistance value using the intuitive HMI (Human Machine Interface).

XY Table

Users can use the XY table feature of EA’s electronic loads to define an I-V curve that determines how much current the load will draw at different fuel-cell output voltages. This feature is particularly useful for verifying the non-linear output characteristics of the fuel cell stack under test.

Rectangle profile

Dynamic Discharge Function

Triangle profile

Accumulated Ah / Wh measurement

Case Studies

Series Connection and ultra-low minimum load voltage

Series Connection

Because most fuel-cell stacks now operate in the 500V-750V range, customers need the ability to test at high voltages and high currents. To meet this need, EA Elektro Automatik now offers the SCB (series-box-connection) option. This option allows customers to configure electronic load units in parallel for higher current capability or in series for higher voltage operation.

* Please check with your local EA Sales Responsible for more technical details on series connection.