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Current State of Technology of Fuel Cell Power Systems for Autonomous Underwater Vehicles

Abstract

Autonomous Underwater Vehicles (AUVs) are vehicles that are primarily used to accomplish oceanographic research data collection and auxiliary offshore tasks. At the present time, they are usually powered by lithium-ion secondary batteries, which have insufficient specific energies. In order for this technology to achieve a mature state, increased endurance is required. Fuel cell power systems have been identified as an effective means to achieve this endurance but no implementation in a commercial device has yet been realized. This paper summarizes the current state of development of the technology in this field of research. First, the most adequate type of fuel cell for this application is discussed. The prototypes and design concepts of AUVs powered by fuel cells which have been developed in the last few years are described. Possible commercial and experimental fuel cell stack options are analyzed, examining solutions adopted in the analogous aerial vehicle applications, as well as the underwater ones, to see if integration in an AUV is feasible. Current solutions in oxygen and hydrogen storage systems are overviewed and energy density is objectively compared between battery power systems and fuel cell power systems for AUVs. A couple of system configuration solutions are described including the necessary lithium-ion battery hybrid system. Finally, some closing remarks on the future of this technology are given.

Funding source: The authors gratefully acknowledge the Spanish Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness (Project ENE2011-28735-C02-02) and the E.T.S.I. Navales from the Universidad Politécnica de Madrid (Spain) for its support and help.
Related subjects: Applications & Pathways
Countries: Spain
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/content/journal4112
2014-07-22
2023-02-07
http://instance.metastore.ingenta.com/content/journal4112
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