Simulation, design and validation of a solid oxide fuel cell powered propulsion system for an unmanned aerial vehicle
Lindahl, Peter Allan
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This thesis presents a physically-based model for design and optimization of a fuel cell powered electric propulsion system for an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV). Components of the system include a Solid Oxide Fuel Cell (SOFC) providing power, motor controller, Brushless DC (BLDC) motor, and a propeller. Steady-state models for these components are integrated into a simulation program and solved numerically. This allows an operator to select constraints and explore design trade-offs between components, including fuel cell, controller, motor and propeller options. We also presents a graphical procedure using the model that allows rapid assessment and selection of design choices, including fuel cell characteristics and hybridization with multiple sources. To validate this simulation program, a series of experiments conducted on an instrumented propulsion system in a low-speed wind tunnel is provided for comparison. These experimental results are consistent with model predictions.