Fuel Cell/ Electrochemical Cell Voltage Monitor

A concept has been developed for a new fuel cell individual-cell-voltage monitor that can be directly connected to a multi-cell fuel cell stack for direct substack power provisioning. It can also provide voltage isolation for applications in high-voltage fuel cell stacks. The technology consists of basic modules, each with an 8- to 16-cell input electrical measurement connection port. For each basic module, a power input connection would be provided for direct connection to a sub-stack of fuel cells in series within the larger stack. This power connection would allow for module power to be available in the range of 9-15 volts DC. The relatively low voltage differences that the module would encounter from the input electrical measurement connection port, coupled with the fact that the module’s operating power is supplied by the same substack voltage input (and so will be at similar voltage), provides for elimination of high-common-mode voltage issues within each module. Within each module, there would be options for analog-to-digital conversion and data transfer schemes.

Each module would also include a data-output/communication port. Each of these ports would be required to be either non-electrical (e.g., optically isolated) or electrically isolated. This is necessary to account for the fact that the plurality of modules attached to the stack will normally be at a range of voltages approaching the full range of the fuel cell stack operating voltages. A communications/ data bus could interface with the several basic modules. Options have been identified for command inputs from the spacecraft vehicle controller, and for output-status/data feeds to the vehicle.

This work was done by Arturo Vasquez of Johnson Space Center. For further information, contact the JSC Innovation Partnerships Office at (281) 483-3809. MSC-24592-1

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