Environmental Impact of High Altitudes on the Operation of PEM Fuel Cell Based UAS

Ibrahim Saleh, Rashid Ali, Hongwei Zhang

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Fuel cell is a device that converts the chemical energy in the reactants into the electrical energy after steps of sequential electrochemical processes with no significant impact on the environment. For high altitude long endurance (HALE) of unmanned aircraft system (UAS) where fuel cell operates as a prime source of power, the operation and performance of a PEM fuel cell at different level of altitudes is vitally important. In this paper, the impact of direct using extracted air from high altitudes atmosphere in order to feed the stack is investigated, and the governing equations of the supplied air and oxygen to the PEM fuel cell stack are developed. The impact of high altitudes upon the operation and the consumption of air are determined in order to maintain certain level of delivered power to the load. Also the implications associated with operating the PEM fuel cell stack at high altitudes and different technical solutions are proposed. Various modes of Integral, Proportional-Integral, and Proportional-Integral-Derivative controller are introduced and examined for different time setting responses in order to determine the most adequate trade-off choice between fast response and reactants consumption which provides the necessary optimization of the air consumption for the developed model of PEM fuel cell used for UAS operation.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)87-105
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Energy and Power Engineering
Issue number3
Early online date30 Mar 2018
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2018

Bibliographical note

This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution International License (CC BY 4.0).http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/


  • PEM Fuel Cell
  • High Altitude
  • Long Endurance
  • PID Controller
  • UAS


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