Design optimization is performed by presenting a systematic method to obtain the optimal operating conditions of a Proton Exchange Membrane (PEM) fuel cell system targeted towards a vehicular application. The fuel cell stack model is a modified version of the semi-empirical model introduced by researchers at the Royal Military College of Canada and one that is widely used by industry. Empirical data obtained from tests of PEM fuel cell stacks are used to determine the empirical parameters of the fuel cell performance model. Based on this stack model, a fuel cell system model is built in MATLAB. Included in the system model are heat transfer and gas flow considerations and the associated Balance of Plant (BOP) components. The modified ADVISOR vehicle simulation tool is used to integrate the New York City Cycle (NYCC) drive cycle and vehicle model to determine the power requirements and hence the load cycle of the fuel cell system for a low-speed fuel cell hybrid electric vehicle (LSFCHEV). The optimization of the powerplant of this vehicle type is unique. The vehicle model has been developed in the work to describe the characteristics and performance of an electric scooter, a simple low-speed vehicle (LSV). The net output power and system exergetic efficiency of the system are maximized for various system operating conditions using the weighted objective function based on the load cycle requirement. The method is based on the coupling of the fuel cell system model with three optimization algorithms (a) sequential quadratic programming (SQP); (b) simulated annealing (SA); and (c) genetic algorithm (GA). The results of the optimization provide useful information that will be used in future study on control algorithms for LSFCHEVs. This study facilitates research on more complex fuel cell system modeling and optimization, and provides a basis for experimentation to verify the fuel cell system model.

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