Research Papers

An Adaptive Observer for Recirculation-Based Solid Oxide Fuel Cells

[+] Author and Article Information
Singith Abeysiriwardena

Mechanical and Aerospace
Engineering Department,
University of Central Florida,
Orlando, FL 32816
e-mail: singith.abeysiriwardena@knights.ucf.edu

Tuhin Das

Mechanical and Aerospace
Engineering Department,
University of Central Florida,
Orlando, FL 32816

1Corresponding author.

Contributed by the Dynamic Systems Division of ASME for publication in the JOURNAL OF DYNAMIC SYSTEMS, MEASUREMENT, AND CONTROL. Manuscript received June 30, 2015; final manuscript received March 25, 2016; published online May 25, 2016. Assoc. Editor: Ardalan Vahidi.

J. Dyn. Sys., Meas., Control 138(8), 081004 (May 25, 2016) (11 pages) Paper No: DS-15-1293; doi: 10.1115/1.4033271 History: Received June 30, 2015; Revised March 25, 2016

In this paper, we present an observer design for online estimation of species concentrations in recirculation-based solid oxide fuel cell (SOFC) systems with integrated reformers. For the system considered, on-board reforming of methane results in mixture of several species of different concentrations along the fuel path. The presence of a fuel reformer gives way to coupling of system equations, in turn, increasing species interactions and complexity of the state equations. The knowledge of concentration of species at key locations in the fuel cell can help prevent cell damage and improve longevity. In this regard, the use of sensors to determine species concentration is an invasive process which is expensive to both utilize and maintain. While existing observers are designed either for chemical reactors or for a fuel cell exclusively, the proposed strategy aims to improve on that by considering a combined reformer and fuel cell and designing a nonlinear adaptive observer using readily measured concentrations and selected variables. For estimating certain critical indicators, such as fuel utilization, state transformations have been used in the design to obtain a more versatile and computationally efficient reduced order observer. The study develops detailed stability analysis of the observers and quantifies the effect of uncertainties on observer performance.

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Fig. 1

Schematic diagram of the SOFC system

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Fig. 3

Schematic diagram of tubular SOFC

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Fig. 2

Schematic diagram of tubular steam reformer

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Fig. 4

N˙in, N˙o, R2,r, and R2,a and their estimates

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Fig. 5

CH4, CO, and CO2 mole fractions and their estimates

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Fig. 6

Observer-based approach for transient utilization control

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Fig. 7

Simulation results for observer-based approach for transient utilization control

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Fig. 8

Simulation results for observer-based approach for transient utilization control with increased reformer volume



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