Advances in Fuel Cell Vehicle Design
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Factors such as global warming, dwindling fossil fuel reserves, and energy security concerns combine to indicate that a replacement for the internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicle is needed. Fuel cell vehicles have the potential to address the problems surrounding the ICE vehicle without imposing any significant restrictions on vehicle performance, driving range, or refuelling time. Though there are currently some obstacles to overcome before attaining the widespread commercialization of fuel cell vehicles, such as improvements in fuel cell and battery durability, development of a hydrogen infrastructure, and reduction of high costs, the fundamental concept of the fuel cell vehicle is strong: it is efficient, emits zero harmful emissions, and the hydrogen fuel can be produced from various renewable sources. Therefore, research on fuel cell vehicle design is imperative in order to improve vehicle performance and durability, increase efficiency, and reduce costs. This thesis makes a number of key contributions to the advancement of fuel cell vehicle design within two main research areas: powertrain design and DC/DC converters. With regards to powertrain design, this research presents a novel fuel cell-battery-ultracapacitor topology which shows reduced mass and cost, and increased efficiency, over other promising topologies found in the literature. A detailed vehicle simulator created in MATLAB/Simulink is used to perform a comprehensive parametric study on different fuel cell vehicle types, resulting in general conclusions for optimal topologies, as well as component types and sizes, for fuel cell vehicles. Next, a general analytical method to optimize the novel battery-ultracapacitor energy storage system based on maximizing efficiency, and minimizing cost and mass, is developed. With regards to DC/DC converters, it is important to design efficient and light-weight converters for use in fuel cell and other electric vehicles to improve overall vehicle fuel economy. Thus, this research presents a novel soft-switching method, the capacitor-switched regenerative snubber, for the high-power DC/DC boost converters commonly used in fuel cell vehicles. This circuit is shown to increase the efficiency and reduce the overall mass of the DC/DC boost converter.