Hydrogen Fuel Cell System – Multibody, Multi-Domain Physical Model in MapleSim – Maplesoft

Hydrogen Fuel Cell System

This is a model of a hydrogen fuel cell system. The model contains 3 sections: the fuel cell stack, air supply system and hydrogen supply system.

The Fuel cell stack model contains four main subsystems; anode flow, cathode flow, membrane hydration and cell voltage. The cathode and anode subsystems represent the flow behavior inside the cathode and anode of the stack. It was developed using the principle of conservation of mass, electrochemistry principles and calculations for inlet and outlet flow properties. The membrane hydration subsystem models two phenomena of water transfer through the membrane: Electro-osmotic drag and back diffusion. The fuel cell converts chemical to electrical energy. Based on the chemical reaction, the change in Gibbs free energy, and thus the Nernst voltage of the cell can be calculated. Irreversibilities such as activation loss, ohmic loss and concentration loss are also modeled.


In the air supply system, there is a compressor and electric motor to compress air to a desired pressure level. A compressor map was modelled using curve fitting coefficients based on a dataset for an Allied Signal compressor.  In this model, heat transfer effects are not modeled. Instead, an ideal cooler is assumed where a specified exiting temperature is maintained.  The humidifier model is used to model the change in air humidity due to injected water. In this model, the amount of water is assumed to be the exact amount that is required to maintain desired stack inlet humidity. The flow exiting the humidifier then enters the fuel cell cathode.

In the hydrogen supply system, a proportional controller is used to adjust valve opening for ensuring minimum pressure difference at the cell membrane. This flow enters the fuel cell anode. Finally, a static feedforward control is implemented through a lookup table which correlates the steady state value between the compressor input voltage with the stack current. 

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Model Images
  • model image The model schematic of the system
  • analysis1 Pressure Ratio vs Mass Flow Rate results overlayed with Compressor Map for variable speed, constant pressure ratio case
  • analysis2 Pressure Ratio vs Mass Flow Rate results overlayed with Compressor Map for variable pressure ratio, constant speed case
  • polarization sample polarization curve for varying pressure
  • results simulation results of system with a series of step changes in stack current applied