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Fuel Cell Research at Virginia Tech

Blue Ridge Numerics Inc., developer of CFdesign® software for fluid flow and heat transfer simulation, said researchers at the Center for Automotive Fuel Cell Systems at Virginia Tech are using CFdesign software to help them understand the complex behaviors of various parts and subsystems that will be integrated into a full fuel cell vehicle.

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Virginia 2002-03-06[SolarAccess.com] The center’s research is focused on the performance and systems integration of fuel cell stacks and associated subsystems in electric and hybrid electric vehicles. The subsystems include fuel storage, fuel reforming and processing, air delivery systems, heat exchangers and thermal integration with other vehicle systems, humidification and water management, DC power processing, and sensors and controls. CFdesign software, which has been in use at the Center for a year and a half, is being utilized to model the complex behaviors between these subsystems and the fuel cell stack.       “We’re working with CFdesign to model the specific internal behavior of the complex processes in a fuel cell so we can get a better understanding of how that fuel cell interacts with all the various subsystems that go onboard the vehicle,” said Doug Nelson, director of the Center. “The model will provide us with a detailed look at how the stack interacts with the rest of the system components. So if you want to optimize the system around a particular fuel cell stack, the details of water management, thermal management, and transient behavior of the stack could be provided.” “The commercial interest in automotive fuel cell systems is steadily increasing around the world,” says Ed Williams, president of Blue Ridge Numerics. “It gives us great pleasure to supply the innovators pushing the envelope in this area with an essential simulation tool.”       While development of a full model still under way, once complete, Nelson says, “the CFdesign model will allow us to evaluate materials, membrane materials, or changes in geometry without having to build a fuel cell stack, which is extremely expensive.”       Blue Ridge Numerics, Inc. is an official technology sponsor of the Center for Automotive Fuel Cell Systems at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, VA.