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31st Aug - 3rd Sept 2010

Voltage and Current Based MPPT of Fuel Cells

under Variable Temperature Conditions
M. Sarvi M. M. Barati
Imam Khomeini International University Imam Khomeini International University
Qazvin, Iran Qazvin, Iran
sarvi@ikiu.ac.ir mm.barati@yahoo.com

Abstract-There are a few devices for storage the electrical analyzed. The simulated and theoretical results are compared.
energy. Fuel cell (FC) is one of them. FCs have advantages such Simulations are carried in MATLAB facilities.
as high efficiency, low emission (of pollutant gases), and flexible
modular structure In this paper Voltage-based (VMPPT) and
current-based (CMPPT) maximum power point tracking is II. FUEL CELL CHARACTERISTIC
proposed to minimizing the fuel consumption of a fuel cell. In
these two methods, first a model is used for configuring the Fuel cell voltage as a function of current density in a steady
polarization curve and then the effect of temperature variation state can be represented by a polarization curve, which is
investigates on the characteristics of FC. In VMPPT technique
influenced by such parameters as the cell temperature, oxygen
the relation between open circuit voltage and the voltage
corresponding to maximum power of FC is investigated in for partial pressure, hydrogen partial pressure and membrane
different temperatures. In CMPPT technique we find it between water content [10]. When current is drawn from a fuel cell,
short circuit current and the current corresponding to maximum
the cell voltage Vcell decreases from its equilibrium
power of FC is investigated. Simulations are carried in
MATLAB environment. thermodynamic potential Enernst (open circuit voltage) [10].
This voltage drop consists of activation loss ( η act ), ohmic
Index Terms--Fuel cell, MPPT, VMPPT, CMPPT. loss ( ηohmic ) and concentration loss ( ηcon ). The basic
expression for the cell voltage is
Vcell = Enernst + η act + η ohmic + ηcon (1)
There are a few devices for storage the electrical energy.
Fuel cell is one of them. FCs have advantages such as high
efficiency, low emission (of pollutant gases), and flexible Reversible thermodynamic potential E nernst is described
modular structure [1]. As other devices, ability of fuel cell by the Nernst equation. This voltage is
systems to produce power is limited. So it is necessary to
force the system to operate in conditions which match up with Enernst = 1.229 − 8.5 × 10 −4 ( T − 298.15 ) + ...
fuel cell maximum power point (MPP). A MPP tracking (2)
(MPPT) which utilizes a MPPT algorithm can undertake this 4.308 × 10 − 5 T (ln PH 2 + 0.5 ln PO2 )
duty. When fuel cell operates in this condition, since MPP is a
unique and fixed point of operation, load power requirements Activation overvoltage ( ) is described by the Tafel
are not taken into account and output voltage will vary with equation as the following
variations of load resistance.
Different maximum power point tracking (MPPT) η act = ξ 1 + ξ 2 T + ξ 3T ln C O2 + ξ 4 T ln I (3)
techniques for photovoltaic systems have been reported [2-9].
Among them Perturbation and Observe (P&O) is the most where ξ (i = 1:4) are parametric coefficients for each cell
commonly used method because of its simple algorithm. Also model. is the concentration of dissolved oxygen at the
Voltage-based (VMPPT) and current-based (CMPPT) gas/liquid interface ( mol .cm −3 ), which can be calculated as
maximum power point tracking are simple and practical
approaches for improving the efficiency of photovoltaic PO2
systems [2-3]. This paper investigates VMPPT and CMPPT CO2 = (4)
methods for FC. Also the impact of varying temperatures on ( 5.08 × 10 6 ) × exp( −498 / T )
the performance of VMPPT and CMPPT techniques is
Ohmic overvoltage ηohmic results from the resistance of the RT I
polymer membrane in electron and proton transfers. It can be ηcon = ln( 1 − ) (11)
nF iL A
written as

ηohmic = − IRm where iL is the limiting current. It denotes the maximum

rate at which a reactant can be supplied to an electrode.
The resistance Rm is given by:
rm t m
Rm = (6) By considering the model parameters in [10] and using
MATLAB facilities, V-I and P-I curves are obtained as Figs.
where rm is membrane resistivity ( Ωcm ) to proton 1 and 2, respectively.
conductivity, t m membrane thickness ( cm ), A cell active
area ( cm 2 ). Membrane resistivity depends strongly on 1.6

membrane humidity and temperature, and can be described by 1.4

the following empirical expression 1.2

181.6 [ 1 + 0.03( I / A ) + 0.0062( T / 303 )2 ( I / A )2.5 ]


rm = (7) Increasing of temperature

[ λm − 0.634 − 3( I / A )] exp[ 4.18( T − 303 / T )] 0.8


where λm is the membrane water content. The membrane 0.4

water content is a function of the average water activity a m

0.043 + 17.81am − 39.85am 2 + 36 am 3 , 0 < am ≤ 1


λm = { 14 + 1.4( am − 1 ), 1 < am ≤ 3
(8) -0.2

0 200 400 600 800 1000 1200 1400
The average water activity is related to the anode water I(A)

vapor partial pressure Pv ,an and the cathode water vapor Fig. 1. Fuel cell output voltage versus current.
partial pressure Pv ,ca :

1 1 p v ,an + Pv ,ca 1400

am = ( a an + a ca ) = (9)
2 2 Psat 1200

The saturation pressure of water Psat can be calculated
with the following empirical expression: 800

log10 Psat = −2.1794 + 0.02953T − ...

9.1813 × 10 − 5 T 2 + 1.4454 × 10 −7 T 3
Increasing of temperature

The value of λ m varies between 0 and 14, which is 0

equivalent to the relative humidity of 0% and 100%. Under -200

supersaturated conditions, however, the maximum possible
value of λm can be as high as 23. In addition, λm is -400
0 200 400 600 800 1000 1200 1400
influenced by the membrane preparation procedure, the I(A)

relative humidity of the feed gas and the membrane age. In

this paper, λm is considered as an adjustable parameter with a Fig. 2. Fuel cell output power versus current.
possible value between 0 and 23. Concentration overvoltage
η con results from the concentration gradient of reactants as
they are consumed in the reaction. The equation for
concentration overvoltage is shown by In the CMPPT technique, the fuel cell current
corresponding to maximum power ( I mp ) is considered
proportional to the fuel cell short current ( I sc ) as the (*) are the computed data and the continuous line is curve
fitted of them.
The voltage factor ( K v ) is not constant and depends on
I mp = K I I sc (12)
array temperature but the changing of K v is approximately
where K I is the constant "current factor".
In the VMPPT technique, the relation between fuel cell
voltage corresponding to maximum power ( Vmp ) and fuel
cell open circuit voltage is considered to be linear as the

Vmp = KV Voc (13)

where KV is the constant "voltage factor".

The impact of temperature on factors K I and KV is
considered and will be investigated in the next section.



In order to investigate the impact of temperature variations

on the performance and accuracy of VMPPT and CMPPT
Fig. 3. Current factor ( K I ) versus temperature.
techniques, theoretical values of array voltage ( Voc , Vmp ),
array current ( I sc , I mp ) current factor ( K I ) and voltage factor
( KV ) for different temperature conditions are compared.
Simulations are done in MATLAB environment for two

A. Analysis of the Current-Based MPPT

Fuel cell characteristics including the short circuit current

( I sc ) and the current corresponding to the maximum power
point ( I mp ) are calculated and then current factor
K I = I mp / I sc are determined. Fig. 3 shows the current
factor ( K I ) versus temperature. The stars (*) are the
computed data and the continuous line is curve fitted of them.
The voltage factor ( K I ) is not constant and depends on
Fig. 4. Voltage factor ( KV ) versus temperature.
array temperature but the changing of K v is approximately

B. Analysis of the Voltage-Based MPPT This paper proposes VMPPT and CMPPT techniques for
MPP tracking of fuel cell. In VMPPT techniques, by
In order to investigate the accuracy of VMPPT technique increasing the temperature, K V is decreasing and the
under variable temperature conditions, cell open circuit variation of the voltage factor with respect to temperature is
voltage ( Voc ) and the voltage corresponding to maximum linear and slop of variation is approximately constant.
power ( Vmp ), as well as the voltage factor ( K v = Vmp / Voc ) In CMPPT techniques, by increasing the temperature K I
is increasing and the variation of the current factor with
are computed for different temperature conditions. Fig. 4 respect to temperature is linear and slop of variation is
shows the current factor ( K I ) versus temperature. The stars approximately constant. In spite of this, the variation of K V
and K I is very insignificant at It can be assumed constant. [5] M.A.S. Masoum, M. Sarvi, “A New Fuzzy-Based Maximum Power
Point Tracker for Photovoltaic Applications”, International Journal of
Therefore these two techniques are very simple practical Engineering Science, vol.1, no.1, pp.28-35, 2005.
tracking approaches. [6] A. D. Karlis, “A novel maximum power point tracking method for PV
systems using fuzzy cognitive networks,” Electric Power Systems
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