Research Papers: Gas Turbines: Cycle Innovations

Performance Assessment of Turbocharged Pem Fuel Cell Systems for Civil Aircraft Onboard Power Production

[+] Author and Article Information
Stefano Campanari

 Dipartimento di Energetica, Politecnico di Milano, Piazza Leonardo da Vinci 32, 20133 Milano, Italystefano.campanari@polimi.it

Giampaolo Manzolini

 Dipartimento di Energetica, Politecnico di Milano, Piazza Leonardo da Vinci 32, 20133 Milano, Italygiampaolo.manzolini@polimi.it

Andrea Beretti

 Dipartimento di Energetica, Politecnico di Milano, Piazza Leonardo da Vinci 32, 20133 Milano, Italy

Uwe Wollrab

Systems Engineering, Fuel Cell Systems Development, AIRBUS Deutschland Gmbh, 21129Hamburg, Germanyuwe.wollrab@airbus.com

Fuel preheating at 15°C is necessary when the tank temperature is too low. It is accomplished with a small heat exchanger (not shown in figures for simplicity), recovering heat from the cell cooling loop.

Above this pressure level pressurization would require a substantial increase of the water spray necessary to sustain the DWI cooling concept, as discussed at Sec. 3.

This yields also an increase of mechanical efficiency thanks to the absence of a gearbox.

A detailed economic analysis, which goes beyond the scope of this paper, should be carried out to investigate this aspect.

Further analysis would be required to compare the systems in terms of weight at takeoff; for instance, the PEM generator is expected to be significantly—but not extremely—heavier than a conventional APU.

J. Eng. Gas Turbines Power 130(2), 021701 (Feb 29, 2008) (8 pages) doi:10.1115/1.2772636 History: Received April 28, 2007; Revised May 09, 2007; Published February 29, 2008

In recent years, civil aircraft projects are showing a continuous increase in the demand of onboard electrical power, both for the partial substitution of hydraulic or pneumatic controls and drives with electrical ones, and for the consumption of new auxiliary systems developed in response to flight safety and environmental control issues. Aiming to generate onboard power with low emissions and better efficiency, several manufacturers and research groups are considering the possibility to produce a relevant fraction of the electrical power required by the aircraft by a fuel cell system. The first step would be to replace the conventional auxiliary power unit (based on a small gas turbine) with a polymer electrolyte membrane (PEM) fuel cell type, which today is favored with respect to other fuel cell types; thanks to its higher power density and faster startup. The PEM fuel cell can be fed with a hydrogen rich gas coming from a fuel reformer, operating with the same jet fuel used by the aircraft, or relying on a dedicated hydrogen storage onboard. The cell requires also an air compression unit, where the temperature, pressure, and humidity of the air stream feeding the PEM unit during land and in-flight operation strongly influence the performance and the physical integrity of the fuel cell. In this work we consider different system architectures, where the air compression system may exploit an electrically driven compressor or a turbocharger unit. The compressor type and the system pressure level are optimized according to a fuel cell simulation model, which calculates the cell voltage and efficiency as a function of temperature and pressure, calibrated over the performances of real PEM cell components. The system performances are discussed under different operating conditions, covering ground operation, and intermediate and high altitude cruise conditions. The optimized configuration is selected, presenting energy balances and a complete thermodynamic analysis.

Copyright © 2008 by American Society of Mechanical Engineers
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Figure 1

Operating range that must be satisfied by an APU

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Figure 2

PEM module operating principles and schematic layout

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Figure 3

Cell polarization curves at variable pressure (data for GORE® Primea Series 56 membranes, T=75°C Ref. 16).

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Figure 4

(a) Schematic layout of the base case. (b) Schematic layout of the case with turbocharger. (c) Schematic layout of the case with combustor and turbochanger.

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Figure 5

Electrical efficiency of Case B as a function of pressure at cruise conditions

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Figure 6

Electrical efficiency and TIT of Case C as a function of pressure for cruise conditions

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Figure 7

Electrical efficiency and TIT of Case C as a function of pressure for ground conditions




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