Protect - Advanced Control for Efficient Fuel Cell Operation

Project Description

In this project, a real-time capable fuel cell stack model and model-based controller suitable for automotive application are developed and studied. The model consists of several domains: cathode, anode, membrane, electrochemistry and compressor. It is zero-dimensional, transient, nonlinear and written in its state-space representation.

Project goal

The goal of the controller is to fulfill the power demand while, at the same time, ensuring safety and efficiency. Safe operation is considered to be fulfilled if the system has enough supply of oxygen and hydrogen at all times, if the cathode/anode pressures do not exceed the prescribed dangerous levels, if the pressure difference across the membrane is within defined boundaries, and if the compressor operates far from its surge and choke lines. Efficiency is maximised by reducing the compressor power when possible and operating the system at lower currents, minimising the hydrogen consumption.

Formulars and diagrams

Since some of the mentioned goals are conflicting and safety constraints have to be respected, model predictive control (MPC) is employed to control the system. The MPC uses the model to predict future events and thus optimally decide how to act on the system and respect all constraints. Linear MPC has its limitations due to the nonlinear nature of the FCS and performs well only in a small operating region. Successive linearisation MPC (SLMPC) is, therefore, employed to control the whole operating region. The concept is compared to the performance of a pre-existing proportional-integral (PI) based control architecture of a real vehicle. Furthermore, the SLMPC is also used as a reference governor, providing references to the underlying PI controllers instead of replacing them. Finally, the SLMPC is used in start-up and shut-down operation of the FCS.

Video Presentation

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Video Title: PROTECT - Advanced Control for Efficient Fuel Cell Operation


Vrlić, Martin, Daniel Ritzberger, and Stefan Jakubek. "Safe and Efficient Polymer Electrolyte Membrane Fuel Cell Control Using Successive Linearization Based Model Predictive Control Validated on Real Vehicle Data, opens an external URL in a new window." Energies 13, no. 20 (2020): 5353.

Vrlić, Martin, Daniel Ritzberger, and Stefan Jakubek. "Efficient and life preserving power tracking control of a proton exchange membrane fuel cell using model predictive control, opens an external URL in a new window." In 2020 SICE International Symposium on Control Systems (SICE ISCS), pp. 77-84. IEEE, 2020.

Vrlić, Martin, Daniel Ritzberger, and Stefan Jakubek. "Model-predictive-control-based reference governor for fuel cells in automotive application compared with performance from a real vehicle, opens an external URL in a new window." Energies 14, no. 8 (2021): 2206.

Vrlić, Martin, and Stefan Jakubek. "Degradation Avoiding Start Up and Shut Down of Fuel Cell Stacks for Automotive Application Using Two Plant Model Predictive Control, opens an external URL in a new window." In 2021 6th International Conference on Smart and Sustainable Technologies (SpliTech), pp. 1-6. IEEE, 2021.

Cooperation Partners


  • July 2020 - December 2021


Associate Prof. Dipl.-Ing. Dr.techn. Christoph Hametner

Send email to Christoph Hametner