Analysis and comparative study of pulsating current of fuel cells by inverter load with different power converter topologies

Boddu Somaiah, Vivek Agarwal, Suman R. Choudhury, Siddhartha P. Duttagupta, K. Govindan
International Journal of Hydrogen Energy, Volume 36, Issue 22, November 2011

Abstract

Fuel cells are being increasingly used for stand alone and grid connected systems in wide range of applications due to their high efficiency and low emissions. Because of unregulated nature of fuel cell voltage a power conditioning unit, consisting of DC–DC converter and an inverter, is invariably used as an interface between the fuel cell and the load in a typical fuel cell system for ac applications. Major issues with the use of fuel cells for ac applications are the low frequency pulsating current propagation on to the fuel cell side and dynamic response to various loads during transient conditions. Low frequency pulsating currents are reported to affect reactant utilization, degrade the performance and life of fuel cells. These current ripples can be reduced by filters with passive elements having bulky inductor and capacitor in the dc-link between the fuel cell and the inverter but, it will add to the weight and cost. DC–DC converters of different configurations are being used in the power conditioning unit of fuel cell systems. These converters are operated at high frequencies and the filtering units of these converters have minimal effect on low frequency ripple. But, it is observed that different configurations of power conditioner with same filtering components perform differently for the low frequency current ripple of the inverter load by mitigating the power mismatch between load and source at the DC link. This paper investigates and compares the low frequency current ripple mitigation by cascaded converters with conventional push–pull and also with series connected converters in the power conditioning stage of fuel cell system for ac applications. Parameters such as peak switching currents, the percentage of peak to DC level of low frequency current ripple are analyzed using these conversion topologies in power conditioning unit. The analytical and simulation results related to the study are presented. Key results are verified with experimental work.

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