The latest web technologies allow a deeper insight into fuel cells
by Markus Schuster
The monitoring of fuel cell systems is a complex business. After all, it means keeping a constant watch on several hundred individual cells to register developments as they happen. And recording the measurement data at a high scanning rate is only part of the task – IntelliProbe modules from SMART permit synchronous scanning of up to 400 channels at a rate of 1 kilohertz per channel, so plenty of data mounts up. It is also essential for this volume of data to be displayed as instantly as possible. If the visualisation process takes too long, high-speed events in the stack will not show up.
Fast visualisation makes more effects visible
This is where the advantages of the web technology already described by Wolfgang Bloem in his blog article "Full steam ahead towards Web 4.0" come into play: Web-based applications do not demand any particular operating system and are both flexible and extremely fast. A WebSocket connection between PC, Tablet or smartphone and the Cell Voltage Monitoring System is all that is needed to obtain a continuous, uninterrupted flow of measured values at high data rates and with minimum latency.
Thanks to the new web-based user interface of our CVM systems we can visualise and record a whole 420 channels in parallel, thus permitting real-time monitoring of the entire stack. It is now possible to see effects which could not be made visible in the past on account of the sluggish display function of the traditional test bench software. The far greater precision provides development departments and manufacturers with a much deeper insight into the fuel cell stacks as a basis for taking further decisions. And that impressed the INDUSTRY AWARD 2018 jury as well, who gave the Web GUI a BEST OF rating.
From monitoring to analysis
The central element of the CVM web user interface is a sophisticated dashboard which provides users with a status overview of the system as a whole at a glance. It presents all the relevant operating parameters. As soon as a problem occurs with one of them, the user can simply click to obtain the details. In the first software release, the measured values of all the individual cells of a fuel cell stack are visualised in the form of a bar chart. Line graphs are planned for the second release. "It will then be possible to display subsets of roughly 10 to 15 channels with full measurement resolution and at full measurement speed in a line graph similar to that on an oscilloscope", says Wolfgang Bloem, who is responsible for software development at our company.
Wireless data transmission facilitates automotive applications
Another advantage of the web-based user interface is that the entire monitoring system can be used without a PC. All that is needed is a data terminal to run a browser. The entire CVM software runs on the master module of the CVM system. Wireless data transmission is possible via WLAN. So in future it will not be necessary to go to the trouble of wiring up a laptop when performing a test drive. A simple Tablet will be sufficient to keep an eye on the operating parameters in real time – with a display offering daytime and night-time modes.
The super-fast web user interface is the central element of the new software generation for the SMART CVM systems which will probably be available as of June. Please do not hesitate to contact me should you have any questions. You can send me an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.