Prodrive and Intelligent Energy develop new hydrogen fuel cell controller

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Reminding us again just how complex the hydrogen fuel cell is, Prodrive has issued a press release, pasted after the break, regarding a new ECU which it has developed with proton exchange membrane (PEM) fuel cell maker Intelligent Energy (IE). You may remember IE from their ENV fuel cell electric motorcycle and their various collaborations with Suzuki. One of the stated problems that Prodrive was looking to conquer is the cold-starting and operation of hydrogen fuel cells. What they came up with is called the PP150, a specialized ECU suitable for volume production, with a price point of around £250 per unit.

Funding for this venture was provided by the Technology Strategy Board, a business-led executive non-departmental public body established by the U.K. government.

Press Release:

Prodrive develops new hydrogen fuel cell controller

Prodrive has developed a new production-ready ECU specifically for the control of hydrogen fuel cells as part of a programme part funded by the Technology Strategy Board. The unit, called PP150, has been developed in conjunction with fuel cell power systems company, Intelligent Energy, as part of a three year, DTI-funded programme to develop fuel cells for real world applications.

The PP150 is being used to control a 50 kW fuel cell system developed by Intelligent Energy. This is a first for the UK fuel cell industry. These units use proton exchange membrane technology, making them robust to use in automotive applications.

One of the project's aims was to ensure that the fuel cell could be started at sub-zero temperatures. To meet these demands, the control electronics went through a number of design iterations. Initial development was carried out using Prodrive's rapid prototyping ECU, UP200 which provides a robust, off the shelf hardware platform with built in Simulink® compatibility. This enabled Intelligent Energy to quickly develop their core algorithms and validate them on real world hardware. Following this initial stage Prodrive developed a prototype ECU known as the DP200 which included bespoke hardware for the fuel cell application but retained sufficient flexibility to support development changes. Once the hardware design was fixed, Prodrive developed the PP150 which is a bespoke ECU suitable for volume production, with potential for a price around £250 per unit.

PP150 specification
Motorola 565 microcontroller @ 56MHz
36Kb On Chip RAM
1Mb external SRAM
32KB Non Volatile FRAM Memory
Real Time Clock
Weight: 450g
Dimensions: 172mm x 189mm x 56mm
Storage temperature: -40° to +125°C
Operating temperature: -40° to +70°C
Sealing: IP67
EMC 95/54/EC

6 x digital inputs
14 x 10bit analogue inputs
11 x 2A low side drives (2A LSD) with built in diagnostic capability
4 x 8A low side drives (8A LSD) with built in diagnostic capability
1 x 10A H-Bridge
4 x 10bit analogue outputs (2x5V, 2x10V)

[Source: Prodrive]

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