Hydrogen Fuel Cell Powertrain

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Group Design Project
Analysis, Design, and Construction of a Hydrogen Fuel Cell Powertrain to Establish Design and Control Strategies for the Shell Eco-Marathon Competition
Group Members
Geoffrey Moore, Roshan Singh, Alfredo Pantini, Khet Wuii Ngu, Stefano Cinti, Lewis Shutler, Eddie Wei Jia Ng, Alex Roashan

Dr. Carlos Ponce de Leon Albarran, Professor Roberto Lot

Tom Sperrey, Tom Chicken of Fuel Cell Systems Ltd

This project aimed to design, build, and test a representative powertrain for the Shell Eco-Marathon Urban Concept category utilising a hydrogen fuel cell power source, and evaluate the feasibility of manufacturing, testing, and optimising the powertrain to budget and designated timeframe. This challenging task has not yet been attempted by the University of Southampton. The project also studied the aerodynamic design of a typical urban concept vehicle, and its implications on a hydrogen fuel cell powertrain.

The project produced informative research and knowledge throughout. A representative powertrain layout was designed, developed and constructed to produce a setup capable of generating an output comparable to that of a typical Shell Eco-Marathon Urban Concept competitor, and took a novel approach to powertrain characterisation through the use of a programmable load bank and vehicle modelling.

Detailed control systems were designed utilising CAN Network Communication, PWM control and a real-time LabVIEW simulation and control interface.

The project forms a suitable guide on the design and manufacture of a fuel cell powertrain, including the integration of a motor controller and load bank setup. Comprehensive test procedures for each powertrain subsystem, and full system were designed, taking speeds experienced throughout the Eco-Marathon and observing the hydrogen consumption to evaluate powertrain efficiency. Unfortunately, the fuel cell operation was prevented by a serious fault, meaning little quantitative data was obtained to gauge performance and efficiency of the powertrain setup. However, the knowledge gained will provide valuable assistance to further projects at the University.

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