To integrate a fuel cell into a vehicle platform many subsystems must be engineered to support the electrical power production of the fuel cell plant. These subsystems include the control of fuel and air supply as well as managing thermal and water throughput in the fuel cell stack. For the fuel cell plant to operate at optimum performance, one must examine the individual components that make up the “balance of plant” of the fuel cell system. Specifically, the power used to run the system must be scrutinized with the power produced by the system. Knowing how individual balance of plant components perform is the first step in design and optimization studies, as well as automated control system development. To address these issues, this paper examines how balance of plant components and subsystems affect parasitic power consumption, fuel cell power production, membrane hydration, hydrogen usage, and water production.

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