Check out the research labs at renewable hydrogen production test facility and the power electronics laboratory.
The renewable hydrogen production test facility at the University of North Dakota (UND) consists of a 6 kW PEM electrolyzer system with specially designed control system and two 1.2 kW PEM fuel cells. The system is designed for PEM electrolysis hydrogen production allowing advanced control and monitoring over operating temperature, hydrogen system pressure, water resistivity, water flow, stack current and safety. Along with the temperature, pressure and current-voltage sensors, the main components of the system are a 6 kW PEM electrolyzer stack, hydrogen-water phase separator, two 6 kW Xantrex DC power supplies which are capable to deliver up to 200 A to the electrolyzer, a temperature controlled water loop, a two-tube desiccant drying system and a back pressure regulator to control the operating pressure. Water quality is maintained above defined 1MΩ-cm using mixed bed resins and carbon filters. A temperature control unit (chiller) controls the inlet DI water temperature thereby providing control of the operating temperature of electrolyzer. This system is designed to allow higher temperature testing by maintaining DI water temperature with the chiller and a heater provided in oxygen-water phase separator. The picture shown below is UND renewable hydrogen and fuel cell lab. Renewable generated DC power is simulated using power electronics packages. A 5.2 kW programmable DC load bank is used for fuel cell studies. A Solartron frequency response analyzer, 1250A with frequency range from 10µHz to 65kHz is used for electrochemical impedance spectroscopy (EIS) studies of both fuel cell and electrolyzer at the cell and stack level.
Current Development Work
The developmental work currently being performed at UND in this area is carried out primarily by the Departments of Chemical and Electrical Engineering, with support from the Chemistry Department. This is an advantage of a smaller university like UND – collaboration across departments is natural. Although we involve students at all levels, we currently rely on PhD students to perform the bulk of our research. This gives us the capability to explore research questions in great depth. We are application oriented. The experimental component of our program provides the data and capability to verify the models that we are developing. In addition, we view applications from the system level, rather than the component level. Having a strong modelling and experimental component, coupled with an eye toward overall system level efficiency has helped us keep our research meaningful.
Current Modeling Work
Current modeling work is focused on incorporating fuel cell, hydrogen storage, and power electronics models into RPM-Sim and simulating full system (wind turbine, electrolyzer, fuel cell, hydrogen conditioning and storage, power electronics and control, and load) testing under various operating conditions. Electrochemical impedance spectroscopy (EIS) work is focused on testing of a 6 kW PEM electrolyzer and PEM hydrogen compressor for detailed characterization of performance and the development of electrical equivalent circuits to enable study of the impacts of PEM fuel cell and PEM electrolyzers on power system performance. A method of drying hydrogen product gas to a specified dew point is being developed using Peltier effect based thermoelectric coolers (TEC) along with fuzzy logic control. A single, shared power electronics and control system interfacing a wind turbine(s) to PEM electrolyzers is being developed. Efforts to evaluate the feasibility and study the electrochemical compression of product hydrogen gas using PEM cell with high efficiency are planned. Back diffusion of hydrogen, water management, membrane electrode assembly for higher pressure difference will be studied.
The power electronics laboratory was made possible by combining resources and facilities from several sources as indicated below. Equipment from a Course, Curriculum, and Laboratory Improvement (CCLI) grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF). Four complete power electronics experimental stations each equipped with configurable converter/inverter boards (Power Poles), power supplies, digital oscilloscopes, personal computers, multi-meters, variable loads, other miscellaneous tools, printers, and Matlab/simulink, PSIM, Simplorer, and PSpice software. Each of the stations is also equipped with advanced data acquisition and processing units based on the digital signal processing boards by dSPACE, Inc. Using any of the given software, students can first design and simulate the operation of various simple and complex controlled and uncontrolled switching circuits. Using the Power Pole boards, the student designs can then be physically configured and controlled through a Matlab/Simulink and dSPACE interface.
Similar to the power electronics laboratory equipment, the electric drives facilities were made possible by combining resources from several sources.Equipment from a Course, Curriculum, and Laboratory Improvement (CCLI) grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF). The equipment under this grant have been acquired based on the project model that has been implemented and evaluated successfully at the University of Minnesota (UMN) under the NSF CCLI-EMD- 9952704 grant. Four complete electric drive experimental stations each equipped with various 42 V dc and ac motors, configurable converter/inverter drives, power supplies, oscilloscopes, personal computers, multimeters, variable loads, other miscellaneous tools, printers, and Matlab/simulink, PSIM, Simplorer and PSpice software. Each of the stations is also equipped with advanced data acquisition and processing units based on the digital signal processing boards by dSPACE, Inc.
A set of state-of-the-art power electronics, electric drives, and renewable energy systems laboratories for education and research have been established at the school of engineering of the University of North Dakota. These laboratories are made possible jointly by the university, the State of North Dakota, U.S. Department of Energy, and the National Science Foundation. The student responses to these laboratories have been extremely positive. Using the laboratory equipment, the instruction of advanced power electronics, electric drives, and renewable energy systems has been greatly facilitated. The students are excited as they are now constantly challenged to assimilate and to put into practice all of the concepts that they learn in class. The study of theoretical concepts followed by hands-on practices has turned out to be a great course structure and a very positive motivational approach in making students interested in multi-disciplinary power electronics, electric drives, and renewable energy topics that are of vital interest to the industry and the nation.
The Instructor training system equipped at Power Electronics Lab offers realistical represents of the basic functions of a fuel cell system.
The extensive experimenting capabilities make the Instructor training and experimenting system interesting for use in various fields of study.
- Introduction to the operation of a fuel cell system
- Characteristic curve and output curve of the fuel cell
- Dependence of output on air supply and temperature
- Hydrogen-current characteristic curve of the fuel cell
- Efficiency analyses of the fuel cell stack
- Set-up and operation of an autonomous power supply with a fuel cell
- Efficiency of the fuel cell system
- Sample application of independent power supply: How long can a fuel cell supply an autonomous consumer?
- Sample application for fuel cell car: Determination of the fuel consumption based on the load profile.
The HP 600 Fuel cell System equipped at Power Electronics Lab offers extensive features for teaching engineering principles at an advanced level.
The product is mounted firmly on a wall panel and is available optionally with or without electronic load.
Fuel Cell System Unit
600 W PEM fuel cell with water cooling circuit and water/air heat exchanger. The hydrogen flow is controlled by a flow meter and is recycled through the fuel cell. The system is controlled and parameterized via a microcontroller.
Hydrogen Connection Set
Pressure reducer for compressed gas cylinders and hydrogen sensor and set for leak detection to ensure safe operation of the system.
Power Electronics Unit
DC converter and load regulator including start and back-up battery for supply of 12 V consumers and DC/AC converter for supply of 110V/220V AC consumers.
The HP 600 is especially suitable for practicums and lab experiments with the goal of teaching application-related knowledge of hydrogen and fuel cells. Ideally, it is used in university practicums in the following fields of study:
- Energy engineering
- Process engineering
- Power supply engineering
- Electrical engineering