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3 Fuel Cell Module FC50 4

5.3 Manual operation, self-powered by the VC100 module:

• Place the FC50 panel into the upper right area of the support frame, and the VC100 in the
lower center area.

• Using the supplied test leads, connect the FC50 stack power output (8) to the voltage
input of the VC100. Observe correct polarity.

• Using the provided 3-pin cable, connect the output marked "Parasitic load" of the VC100
to the "12V =" jack (7) of the FC50.

• Connect a load (e.g. EL200 or TL10) to the output marked "available power" of the
VC100. Observe correct polarity. (In addition to the VC100, you can connect additional
loads directly to the FC50 stack power output.) Use only the supplied test leads for
connecting loads.

If you are using the Electronic Load Module EL200 as a load:

(See chapter A.4 for details)
o Place the EL200 panel into the lower right area of the support frame.
o Using the supplied power cord, connect the EL200 to an AC power outlet, and turn on
the power switch (located behind the front plate, right side).
o Using the short test leads, connect the stack power output (8) of the FC50 to the load
input of the EL200. Observe correct polarity.
o Ensure that the multi-turn load potentiometer is set to zero (fully counterclockwise).
o Turn the switch on the EL200 front plate to "ON".

• Attach your chosen hydrogen supply with the quick-coupler to the hydrogen input (1) of
the FC50. Connect the cable of your hydrogen supply’s solenoid valve to connector "H2-
supply" (3).
For the correct start-up of your hydrogen supply refer to the appropriate installation and
operating instructions found in chapters A.8 to A.10 of this guide.

• Set the fan power knob (10) to “AUTO”.

• Turn the main switch (5) to “ON”.

• Press the “Start” button (2).

• Initially powered by the starting battery of the VC100, the FC50 system now performs a
self-check for about 10 seconds. If no error occurs, the FC50 begins operating. The
VC100, now receiving voltage from the fuel cell stack, continues to power the FC50 with
regulated 12V DC. If an error message is displayed, please refer to section 8 of this
chapter “Error messages and causes”.

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5 Fuel Cell Module FC50 A.3

5.4 Computer-assisted operation:

Computer-assisted operation is available regardless of how the FC50 is powered. In
computer-assisted operation, you can adjust the EL200 load current and FC50 fan power
only through the computer. The computer monitors and logs all system parameters of the
FC50 and also, through the RS485 data connections, the EL200 and VC100.
Before you run the FC50 software, ensure the following conditions exist:

• The long 9-pin cable connects "RS232" (4) on the FC50 with a COM port on the
• The short 9-pin cables connect "RS485" (6) on the FC50 with the EL200 and if necessary
connect the EL200 and VC100.
• The provided experiment software has been correctly installed on the computer.
• The FC50 is not yet started.

Then run the software and select one of the experiment programs. The program will ask you
to start the FC50 by pressing the start button (2). When you do, the FC50 begins to run in a
computer-assisted mode. See chapter A.7 “Control software” for details of the FC50
experiment software.

6 Shutting down

When you are through using the system, proceed as follows to shut down and turn off:
• Turn off any attached load.
• If using the EL200:
Turn the potentiometer fully anti-clockwise, move the switch to the "OFF" position and turn
off the power switch located on the side of the module. See chapter A.4 for details.
• Turn the fan control knob (10) to "AUTO" and turn the main switch (5) to "OFF".
• Shut down the hydrogen supply following the detailed descriptions found in chapters A.8
to A.10 in this Guide.

Compressed gas cylinder: Shut off cylinder main valve.

Metal hydride storage canister: Close shut-off valve of the storage canister.

• Disconnect the quick-coupler at the FC50 hydrogen inlet (1).

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A.3 Fuel Cell Module FC50 6

7 Factors affecting operation

The performance of a fuel cell system and the voltages of individual cells of the stack are
affected by various factors. The most important are:
• Current
• Temperature
• Air supply
• Prior operating conditions, especially the wetness of the membrane.

Because of the complexity of the system, no universal rules for its management can be
given. In the Experiments Guide detailed investigations are described, in which parameters
can be varied, to demonstrate the relations and dependences of those parameters. Usually
optimal operating parameters are achieved only after a series of tests.

We recommend using the experiment guide as the basis of your work,

observing the guidelines contained there.

Before attempting your own experiments with the fuel cell system, become familiar with the
system parameters as described in the Experiments Guide. Also, in order to avoid damage to
the fuel cells and to achieve good electrical efficiency:
• Control the fan power so that the stack temperature does not exceed 45 °C. If the
temperature exceeds 50 °C, the system automatically shuts down.
• The longer the fuel cell stack is in continuous operation, the more powerful the stack
becomes. After long periods without use, the membranes can dry out and the stack
may need a longer time to reach its full power.

8 Error messages and causes

The microprocessor control of the FC50 is responsible for the management of the fuel cell
system, for the monitoring of limit values and for the safety shut down of the system. In case
of an operation error, the system will go into an error state, in which it:
• Puts the system into a safe condition, switching off the hydrogen supply and
disconnecting the power output from the stack;
• Displays an error code for 30 seconds in the top-left window—labeled "H2 flow";
• After 30 seconds turns off the system completely.
While the system is in the error state, or after turning off, you can restart it by pressing the
start button. If the reason for the error still exists, the system again displays the error code.
The following table lists individual errors and appropriate responses.

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7 Fuel Cell Module FC50 A.3

Error Description State: reason Response

Er 01 Hydrogen is Starting: after three seconds of • See if hydrogen supply is empty,
missing purging the cell, the voltage of the or improperly connected.
last cell of the stack is still below
0.6 V
Er 02 Voltage of the Starting: < 7.5 V • Reduce load on the fuel cell
fuel cell stack too Operation: <4V system
low • Set fan power knob to "AUTO”
• Excessive load
• Fan power set too low
Er 03 Temperature of Starting: > 45 °C • Ensure cooling fans are working
the fuel cell stack Operation: > 50 °C • Set fan power higher or to
too high "AUTO”
• Fan power set too low
• Ensure the ambient temperature
is within range
Er 04 Load current too Current > 10.5 A • Ensure no short-circuit is present
high • In self-powered mode, • Reduce the load
activating the purge valve briefly
increases the load
Er 05 Leaking in the Starting: Hydrogen flow > 60 If this error occurs several times, the
system ml/min with no current system has a hydrogen leak.
Operation: Hydrogen flow > 40 • Return FC50 to the manufacturer
ml/min over expected value for examination.
Er 06 No voltage In self-powered mode: • Ensure stack power output is
supply to FC50 • Fuel cell stack power output not connected to the input of VC100
connected to VC100 input
Er 07 Communication Computer-assisted operation: • Ensure RS232 cable attached
with computer • RS232-cable not connected • Start control software
• Control program not running • Ensure your computer meets
• Computer too slow to respond requirements

Er 08 EL200 problem Temperature in Electronic Load too • Turn off the EL200
high • Ensure cooling fans at the rear of
Voltage at the input of Electronic the EL200 are working
Load > 20 V
Er 10 Cooling fan Starting: Cooling fan power not set • Set fan power knob to "AUTO”
control to "AUTO"
Er 11 No internal In self-powered mode: • Ensure cells are properly installed
power in VC100 • Starting battery dead or in the VC100.
improperly installed • Renew cells if necessary.

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A.3 Fuel Cell Module FC50 8

9 Improper modes of operation

The fuel cells must be sufficiently supplied with hydrogen at all times. Starving the
stack of hydrogen while current is being drawn can lead to the destruction of the
membranes or catalysts.

Never connect the fuel cell to an external power source (e.g. laboratory power
supply or solar module). A current flow forced from outside can immediately
destroy the fuel cell.

10 Technical data

Fuel cell stack

Rated power output 40 W
Maximum power output Approx. 50 W
Open circuit voltage Approx. 9 V
Current at rated power 8A
Voltage at rated power 5V
Maximum Current 10 A
Hydrogen consumption during rated Approx. 580 NmL/min
Hydrogen nominal pressure 0.6 ± 0.1 bar gauge
Max. permissible hydrogen pressure 0.4…0.8 bar gauge
Max. permissible cell temperature Operation: 50 °C
Starting: 45 °C

Module FC50
Supply voltage 12V DC
Power consumption no-load operation: 5.2 W
at 10A load current: 6.4 W
Hydrogen connection Swagelok® quick-coupler type QM2-S
Ambient operating temperature +5 …+35 °C
Dimensions 400 x 297 x 200 mm (WxHxD)
Weight 3.5 kg
Noise emissions < 70 dB(A)
Transport and storage conditions Protect against reactive chemicals and frost

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1 Electronic Load Module EL200 A.4

A.4 Electronic Load Module EL200

1 Use

The EL200 Electronic Load Module is used as a variable load in the hy-ExpertTM Instructor
system. It is designed to work optimally with the FC50 fuel cell stack.
It is intended to be used only for educational and research purposes.

2 Overview and parts list


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1 RS485 system data bus connectors

2 Status indicator
3 Switch to connect/disconnect load
4 Load adjustment
5 Connection to load
6 (on the right side) Socket for power cord and main on/off switch

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A.4 Electronic Load Module EL200 2

3 Basic function

When connected to a voltage source this electronic load functions as an electronically

regulated resistance converting electrical energy into heat in a controlled way. The EL200
works in the so-called constant current mode compensating for voltage fluctuations in the
load circuit and adjusting the resistance to maintain a constant current. A 10-turn
potentiometer on the front panel allows the load current to be precisely set.

4 Operation directions

4.1 Start-up
• Place the EL200 panel into the lower right area of the support frame. Ensure sufficient air
circulation at the rear of the module, so heat produced in the device can be dissipated. In
particular, do not block the vent openings.

• Attach the power cord to the AC power socket (6) at the right rear of the module and plug
it into an AC power outlet.

• Set the load control (4) to zero (anti-clockwise) and the front panel switch (3) to “OFF”.
This will prevent an uncontrolled load current flowing when the module is turned on.

• Turn on the power switch (6) at the right rear of the module.

• Using two of the supplied 4mm test leads, connect the load input (5) to either the FC50
power output or the VC100 power output.

4.2 Manual operation

• Set the front panel load switch (3) to "ON".

• Use the potentiometer (4) to adjust the current flowing into the electronic load. The load
current is shown in the “current” display of the FC50. The actual power drawn by the
electronic load (load current times the clamp voltage) is shown in the “power” display of
the EL200.

• Changing the position of load switch (3) will make abrupt changes in the load. However,
before you make large load changes in this way, make sure that the fuel cell has been in
operation for a while. Sudden large changes in loading can damage cells that are not
thoroughly wet.

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3 Electronic Load Module EL200 A.4

4.3 Computer-assisted operation

Connection/disconnection of the load and a current setting can be externally controlled
through the RS485 interface (1). Power values from the EL200 are also available through
this interface. Thus the EL200 can be operated with the FC50 in computer-assisted mode.
In order to control the EL200 through your computer, proceed as follows:
• Using the supplied data cable, connect the RS485 socket (1) on the EL200 with the
RS485 plug on the FC50.

• Start computer-assisted operation of the FC50, as described in section 3.6.

• Set the front panel load switch (3) to "ON".

4.4 Shutting down

• Set the load control potentiometer (4) to zero (anti-clockwise).

• Set the front panel load switch (3) to "OFF".

• Turn off the power switch (6) at the right rear of the module

• If appropriate, remove all cables from the equipment.

5 Possible malfunctions

Overloading the EL200 leads to excess temperatures and a temporary safety shutdown.
When the temperature has returned to normal, operation is automatically restored.
If the excess voltage protection activates, disconnect the load from the voltage source to
restore operation.
All other malfunctions and irregularities can only be repaired by the manufacturer. In such
cases please notify your dealer, who will advise you about further measures to be taken.

6 Improper modes of operation

The Electronic Load EL200 must not be connected to sources of alternating

current. It must not be connected to sources of direct current that exceed 20 V.

Always operate the EL200 with the supplied test leads, in order to keep the contact
resistances to a minimum and prevent heating of the supply terminals.

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A.4 Electronic Load Module EL200 4

7 Technical data

Maximum continuous load 200 W (cooling by fans)

Load voltage 1.2…20 V DC
Load current 0…10 A
Control Manual by 10-turn potentiometer,
externally by RS485 data bus
Stability (with ∆V load ± 20%) ≤ 0.1% of I max + 3 mA
Overload protection Power limiter, cut-off at excess
temperatures, automatic power restore
Protection against reverse polarity Diode and fuse
Overvoltage protection Disconnection at VLoad, max + 10%
Insulation voltage 1,5 kVeff load input to cabinet
2,5 kVeff mains to load input
AC power supply 115/230 V AC, 50…60 Hz
Ambient operating temperature +5 … +35 °C
Noise emission < 70 dB(A)
Dimensions 400 x 297 x 135 mm
Weight 5.4 kg
Transportation and storage conditions Protect against humidity

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1 Voltage Converter Module VC100 A.5

A.5 Voltage Converter Module VC100

1 Use

The VC100 Voltage Converter Module supplies regulated power for the FC50 module control
and fans, so that you can operate the hy-ExpertTM Instructor fuel cell system as a “grid-
independent” power supply. It can also provide power for other devices that need 12V DC.
It is intended to be used only for educational and research purposes.

2 Overview and parts list

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1 RS485 system data bus connectors

2 Start-up battery holders
3 12V DC power output for FC50 control system and fans
4 12V DC power output
5 Unregulated power input (2…10 V DC)

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A.5 Voltage Converter Module VC100 2

3 Basic functions

The VC100 acts as a DC-to-DC converter or a kind of "step-up transformer". It converts an

input voltage within the range of 2…10 V DC into a regulated 12 V DC output.
To avoid thermal overload caused by exceeding the output power level, the converter has
integrated current regulation to limit the input current.
When the voltage converter is connected so it supplies the FC50 with control and fan power,
(modeling a grid-independent system), an internal battery allows the VC100 to provide power
to the system during the 10-second starting sequence until the fuel cell itself can generate

4 Operation directions

• Place the VC100 panel into the lower middle area of the support frame. Ensure sufficient
air circulation at the rear of the module, so heat produced in the device can be dissipated.
In particular, do not block the vent openings.
• Place the 8 supplied alkaline cells into the battery holders. Observe the polarity as
indicated in the battery holders. Press the battery holders into the VC100 front panel until
they positively engage.
• Use the 4mm test leads to connect the VC100 power input (5) with the FC50 stack power
• If you want to operate the system in self-powered (“grid-independent”) mode, use the
provided cable to connect the output (3) of the VC100 (3pin socket) with the FC50
connector labeled "12V =".
• Use the provided test leads to attach suitable loads such as the traffic light module TL10
and/or the electronic load EL200 to the VC100 output. Pay attention to the voltage and
power consumption of the attached loads.
• For computer-assisted operation, use the 9-pin data cable to connect the VC100 and the
FC50 via its RS485 bus. If the EL200 is already connected to the FC50 data port, you can
connect the VC100 to the EL200.

5 Technical data

Input voltage 2…10 V DC

Output voltage 12 V DC
Max. input current 10 A
Max. input power 100 W (with Vin = 10 V)
Power output max.40 W (with Vin = 5 V)
Starting battery 8 x 1.5 V cells in series, type AA
Operating ambient temperature + 5…+ 35 °C
Noise emission < 70 dB(A)
Dimensions, weight 200 x 297 x 95 mm, 1.0 kg
Transportation and storage conditions Protect against humidity

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1 Traffic Light Module TL10 A.6

A.6 Traffic Light Module TL10

1 Use

The TL10 Traffic Light Module is a 12 V sample load for the hy-ExpertTM Instructor fuel cell

2 Overview

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1 LED arrays
2 Mode switch
3 12V DC power input

The operation mode switch (2) has three positions. In the middle position the TL10 is
switched off. In the position “AUTO” the TL10 cycles as a traffic light. In position “ON” all
three LED arrays are lit.

3 Technical data

Input voltage 12 V DC
Capacity approx. 8 W (position "ON")
Ambient operating temperature +5…+ 35 °C
Dimensions / weight 100 x 297 x 140 mm / 0.6 kg

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1 Control software A.7

A.7 Control software

The FC50 system including integrated microprocessor can be operated manually through its
fan power and load knobs. You can alternatively run a program to operate it in a computer-
assisted mode, in which the physical knobs don’t work. It is necessary run a program before
starting the FC50. (See section 5.4 of chapter A.3.)

1 Running an FC50 Program

To run a program and operate the system in computer-assisted mode, you must connect the
FC50 module to your computer through the RS232 interface. Start a program as follows:
• The FC50 ON/OFF switch can be ON, but the system must not be operating—that is, the
physical panel displays must not be illuminated.
• On the Windows Start menu, select
Programs > FC50 Software > FC50 Software 1.2E. The following selection menu appears:

• In the item Serial Port select the port you are using to connect the computer to the FC50
fuel cell module.
• Click to expand the “Experiments” categories if needed, then select a program in one of
the three program groups:
o User Interface: This application displays an image of the physical FC50 fuel cell
panel on your computer’s monitor. It also controls the FC50 and the EL200 modules
and displays actual data from the system. The most important parameters are
displayed in a time-dependent graph.
o Experiments: Using the programs listed in this group, you can perform experiments
and collect data. The collected data are not analyzed, but only stored in a file where
they can be used in other programs or printed out for analysis. For additional
information, refer to the Experiments Guide.
o Automated Experiments: These programs are similar to some in the Experiments
group, but they run and collect data automatically. Data points are plotted and saved
for further examination.

• Click START.
Descriptions typical of programs in the three categories are given below.

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A.7 Control software 2

2 Control window (left side)

A common control window appears at the left side of the screen in all the FC50 programs. It
contains buttons to start and exit, system messages, names of the log file and data storage
file, and program sequence controls. The actual appearance of the control window may vary
in different programs.
The Messages text box contains requests and notes
about the operation of the system.
If an error occurs in the system, for 30 seconds the
Error Messages text box displays an error code and
a short description. See section 8 “Error messages
and causes” of chapter A.3. In addition an error
message appears on the screen. You can click the
displayed OK button after the Instructor is turned off
(automatically after 30 seconds or by turning the main
switch off). Then correct the cause of the error, restart
the FC50 and continue with the experiment. The
previously measured values are not lost.
The FC50 software can store measured data in two
ways simultaneously: as an array of selected values
particular to the experiment being performed, and as a
continual stream of logged values. The item
Experiment Data specifies the name of a text file
containing the array of selected values. If the file
already exists, new values are appended to the
existing file.
The item Log File specifies the name of a text file
containing a stream of measured values. Click Start
Logging to store values every 100 ms. This function
is particularly helpful when analyzing abrupt changes
in the load. Log files can become very large, and
should not be allowed to grow over long periods. It is
better to save several smaller files.
The item Starting Temperature specifies a stack
temperature that must be reached before some
experiments can begin to make and save
Clicking the Start Measuring button begins the
experiment. If the stack temperature is less than the
specified minimum, the warm-up panel is displayed.
Clicking the EXIT button terminates the current
program and returns to the selection menu.
Measurements already taken are retained.

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