Fuel cells are important devices in a hydrogen-based chain of energy conversion. They have distinctive advantages over batteries with their higher energy density and faster refueling speed, which make them attractive in stationary power supplies and heavy-duty vehicles. However, the high cost and low durability associated with modern fuel cells are still hindering their wider commercialization. Besides developing more reliable and lower cost materials and advanced assemblies of cells and stacks, a practical and effective diagnostic tool is highly needed for fuel cells to identify any abnormal internal conditions and assist with maintenance scheduling or application of on-board mitigating schemes. Conventionally, linear instruments were used for fuel cell EIS, however, limited to single cells or short stacks only as a laboratory testing method. With recent developments, EIS enabled by switching power converters are capable of being applied to a high-power stack directly. This approach has the potential for practical field applications such as a servicing tool for fuel cell manufacturers or an on-board diagnostic tool of a moving vehicle. Previous works on converter based EIS have made a few different attempts at conceptually realizing this solution while several significant issues were not well recognized and resolved yet. As such, this thesis explores further on this topic to address the flexibility of EIS perturbation generation, the perturbation frequency range, and the linkage between fuel cell EIS requirements and the converter design to push for its readiness for practical implementations. Several new solutions are proposed and discussed in detail, including a total software approach for existing high-power converters to enable wide-frequency-range EIS, a redesign of the main dc/dc converter enabling wide-frequency-range perturbations, and a separate auxiliary converter as a standalone module for EIS operation. A detailed analysis of oscillations brought by converter based EIS in powertrains is also presented.
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Thesis advisor: Wang, Jiacheng
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