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applications


minutes and have a lifetime of up to 10 years. Fuel cells have also been integrated


into motorbikes, aeroplanes, boats and submarines. Te technology is also popular in the defence sector because of their portability, lack of detectable emissions and the quiet nature of fuel cells.


Future simulations If fuel cells could be used to power anything requiring electrical energy, their potential applications are huge. But it is not a case of simply using the same simulation environments to model these vastly diverse applications areas. Miller said: ‘When you go into these new application areas, a certain number of the lessons will carry over but what, most likely, won’t carry over are the situations that the control systems need to deal with and react appropriately to, as well as the level of control you give the user.’ For example, a user can tinker with the


physical battery and its settings on a laptop, but, should they get the same level of control if that laptop was powered by a fuel cell? Miller added: ‘Te great thing about simulation is that you can test anything. It exposes your virtual hardware to a range of different things the user can do to it and a range of environmental conditions. You can do hundreds of thousands of tests in the time it would take to do one in the real world – and that’s a huge bonus for a technology where people are concerned about the reliability.’ As the fuel cell application areas expand,


simulation soſtware is keeping pace to ensure increased flexibility. CD-adapco recently developed a new SOFC prototype using general models for electrochemistry, flow, energy, and gas component transport, allowing for highly resolved 3D geometric


calculations of SOFC systems. Te system is currently being evaluated by companies in the US, Japan, Korea and India. CD-adapco is working towards a PEMFC prototype in the near future, as well as expanding the offering to model entire stacks of hundreds of fuel cells. Lueth said: ‘[Te new models in our flagship soſtware, STAR-CCM+,] differ from many older fuel cell offerings. Our approach is to add general capabilities within a single tool that can be united to meet a wide range of customer-specific needs,


OUR APPROACH IS TO ADD GENERAL CAPABILITIES WITHIN A SINGLE TOOL THAT CAN BE UNITED TO MEET A WIDE RANGE OF CUSTOMER-SPECIFIC NEEDS, WITHOUT REQUIRING THEM TO LEARN ADDITIONAL TOOLS OR PURCHASE


ADDITIONAL LICENSES


without requiring them to learn additional tools or purchase additional licenses.’ Open source simulation soſtware also


addresses the requirements to reduce costs and bring added flexibility into fuel cell development. Open source fuel cell simulation soſtware provider FAST-FC offers users a first principles approach to modelling fuel cells. Te model was developed by David B Harvey, founder and lead developer at FAST-FC, and his team of engineers and electrochemists


through funding made avaliable by the US Department of Energy and Ballard Power Systems. Te model employs a finite volume


approach enabled by the open source soſtware FOAM-Extend and includes each of the relevant components at the unit cell assembly level (such as flow field plates, porous transport layers, catalyst layers and the polymeric membrane). Te users have complete control over the physics and physical properties as they are able to adjust all of the intrinsic and effective properties of each of the layers, in order to study their effect on cell performance, durability, and contamination – both in a transient and steady-state sense. Harvey said: ‘Te fuel cell industry, in many


respects, is still pre-commercial in many application areas and, because of this, the physics of the inter-workings of the cell are generally not considered as primary “know- how” by fuel cell development companies. As such, a big advantage of using FAST-FC is that the source code can be easily accessed and modified by the user, which allows them capture the most up-to-date knowledge of the physics and materials as projects or experiments push the technology forward.’ Harvey added: ‘Additionally, many


simulations start on a small scale, studying ORR kinetics for example, and culminate in the desire to undertake large-scale, fully coupled, multiphysics simulations requiring the use of highly parallel computational soſtware. Tis is where FAST has a very strong advantage over the commercial offerings in that the cost of deployment and running additional parallel processes is zero; this gives companies and universities an opportunity to move the industry forward by completing complex research and development and not be limited by commercial license structures and fees.’ Fuel cell cost and reliability are major


barriers preventing this technology from entering the mainstream commercial environment. Yet simulation soſtware vendors are clearly addressing these issues by enabling manufacturers to test a range of fuel cells in a range of environments, and for reduced costs compared to real-life or trial-and-error simulations. Open source offerings take the cost reductions one step further – bringing the costs down to zero. Te ball is firmly in the manufacturer’s


Simulation of current density for a new fuel cell using CD-adapco’s STAR-CCM software www.scientific-computing.com l @scwmagazine


court. By making use of the latest advances in simulation soſtware, manufacturers could use fuel cell technology to power devices across a huge range of applications. It’s up to them to break the stalemate and start using simulation to unlock fuel cell technology. l


JUNE/JULY 2016 37


CD-adapco


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