Fifth generation fuel cell voltage monitoring systems come with a whole range of improved features

by Silke Thole

The latest generation of cell voltage monitoring systems for fuel cells, batteries and electrolysis applications from SMART TESTSOLUTIONS offers an extended temperature range, greatly reduced power consumption and enhanced measurement accuracy. A further highlight is its modern, web-based user interface. SMART TESTSOLUTIONS is the market leader in the field of Cell Voltage Monitoring (CVM).

The fifth generation CVM modules can be used at ambient temperatures of up to 105 degrees, even better again than the 85 degrees to date. The power supply range has also been extended. This used to be a fixed 5 volts. By contrast,
the new IntelliProbe modules are equipped with a wide range input for supply voltages between 4.5 and 32 V. Which means they can run directly on a 12 V or 24 V system.

SMART TESTSOLUTIONS has revised not just the hardware, but also the software of the fuel cell monitoring systems and introduced a number of improvements. For instance a new, parametrisable algorithm has been added to make cable break detection even more reliable. The cable break detection sensitivity can be set as required, enabling the system to be ideally adapted to the ambient conditions of the customer application.

Averaging is also configurable in the fifth generation module. What's more, system deactivation on exceeding a temperature limit value has now also been implemented for CANonly systems with no MCM-IntelliProbe master module. A software upgrade makes the extended software functionality available to CVM generation G4 customers as well.

Outward appearance hardly any different – with still unbeatably compact dimensions

The wide-ranging improvements made to the handy measurement modules are scarcely apparent from the outside – with two exceptions: The fifth generation modules have a stylish grey finish and the connector arrangement is slightly different. This means that they are not compatible for connection with fourth generation CVM modules. "The reason for this is to avoid modules from different generations being inadvertently combined. Doing so could create problems because of the extended voltage range of the new CVM modules", explains Dr. Markus Schuster, the SMART TESTSOLUTIONS Product Manager responsible for the e_Cell Electronics sector.

A module which can monitor 10 channels, in other words 10 cells of a fuel cell for instance, has dimensions of only 100 by 30 by 10.5 mm and can thus be used not just for stationary applications like test stands, but also as a mobile unit in confined spaces – in cars or aircraft, for example. If more than 10 single cells have to be monitored, several modules can be combined employing the Lego principle without the need for extra wiring.

A measurement system consists of up to 42 ten-channel modules for simultaneous voltage monitoring on up to 420 channels, a link module for connection of the supply and communication lines and a bus termination module. All measurement channels are scanned synchronously, so that there is no time difference between the individual measurement points. Data transmission takes place either via CAN bus or, in combination with the MCM-IntelliProbe master module, via LVDS bus (from CVM module to master module) and Ethernet (from master module to PC).

Modern web user interface for extra high-speed visualisation

A further feature of the fifth generation of cell voltage monitoring systems for fuel cells, batteries and electrolysis applications is the web-based user interface presented back in June. This permits massively parallel visualisation and recording of several hundred channels, thus enabling users to observe fuel cell stacks in real time, for instance. Another advantage of the web GUI 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. The new web GUI is again available via software upgrade for systems of the preceding generation.

Outwardly there is hardly any difference to be seen between the new CVM meas-urement modules (top) and the predecessor generation. The altered connector ar-rangement ensures that the two versions cannot be combined. Photo: Emanuel Zifreund

Who we are

SMART TESTSOLUTIONS GmbH is a Stuttgart-based supplier of solutions for performing tests on automotive control units, electronic systems and renewable energy systems such as batteries and fuel cells. Our standard range of specifically optimised system modules for measured value recording, load simulation and sensor simulation forms the foundation for implementation of customised system applications. Supplementary engineering services, from on-the-job training to the development and performance of tests, round off our portfolio.

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