A major challenge in the commercialization of fuel cells is their limited lifetime. The long-term goal is to guarantee a lifetime of 8000 hours for passenger cars and 30000 hours for heavy-duty vehicles. The stack’s lifetime should correspond to that of the vehicle (heavy-duty range > 1 million km), as replacing the stack would be unprofitable.

To achieve this goal, ageing tests with long test times are mandatory. One approach to reduce the test time and costs is to carry out accelerated ageing tests under more extreme conditions than in normal operation. Problematic is the low transferability to reality. This is due to the fact that extreme operating conditions lead to processes that do not occur in normal operation. In addition, ageing has so far been studied almost exclusively at cell level, which means that e.g. the inhomogeneous degradation rate in the stack is neglected.

The approach pursued in this project is to age the stack at an accelerated rate under operating conditions that are as realistic as possible. This is done by using a system model created in MATLAB/Simulink to specify the operating conditions of the stack to the automation system of the test bench. In conjunction with a standardized driving cycle, the dynamics of the load to be provided by the stack can thus be used to accelerate degradation in a realistic operation.


Experimental investigation of the degradation of PEM fuel cell stacks in a real-time virtual test environment on the test bench

Acronym ReAliSTicFCAging

Ministry of Economic Affairs, Innovation, Digitalization and Energy of the State of North Rhine-Westphalia

Term 05/2021 - 11/2021