Fuel Cells and Hydrogen Technology (Energy Engineering)

Study mode:On campus Study type:Full-time Languages: English
Foreign:$ 14.5 k / Year(s)  
201–250 place StudyQA ranking:7625 Duration:24 months

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To enable a sustainable and clean future energy supply, continuous depletion of fossil fuel reserves and environmental issues, associated with the exploitation of these energy resources, promotes the development of automotive, stationary and consumer applications powered by fuel cells.

Fuel cells and hydrogen systems are important technologies which may contribute positively to the world energy situation. Already, fuel cells are used commercially in a wide range of applications in products. Other applications will follow in the future.

Description of Study Programme in Fuel Cells and Hydrogen Technology

The specialisation in Fuel Cells and Hydrogen Technology (HYTEC) covers advanced aspects, including energy system modelling, heat and mass transfer, control engineering and experimental work. The specialisation also involves different hydrogen and fuel cell related components and energy system aspects. A new laboratory has been built, giving you the possibility of constructing and operating fuel cell-based technologies in real applications.

The objectives of the Fuel Cells and Hydrogen Technology MSc syllabus are:

  • To provide you with general knowledge of the design, modelling and optimisation of energy systems used in various energy production applications involving fuel cell technology
  • To enable you to comprehend the detailed operation, functionality and interaction between the various components used in fuel cell and hydrogen production systems
  • For you to develop analytic skills in system integration with respect to system efficiency and control engineering aspects of fuel cell energy systems
  • For you to obtain the knowledge needed to construct and operate fuel cell based technologies in the laboratory and in real applications
  • To impart to you knowledge related to the practical realisation and implementation of fuel cell systems, especially pertaining to innovative aspects, business planning and financial considerations.

The themes of the three-semester study in Fuel Cells and Hydrogen Technology give you an in-depth understanding of the technologies of fuel cell systems and hydrogen production and storage. The programme is multidisciplinary, integrating general engineering disciplines, such as thermal systems, fluid dynamics, control engineering and electrical engineering.

Study topics - Fuel Cells and Hydrogen Technology

  • Should future vehicles be based on hydrogen propulsion systems?
  • How can the most cost-effective, energy optimised, hydrogen and fuel cell systems be developed?
  • Can we replace our present oil supply infrastructure with a hydrogen supply infrastructure? And how?
  • How can hydrogen and fuel cell systems be included in and help stabilise a future energy supply based on sustainable energy sources?
  • Which types of fuel cells are the most suitable for given applications?

During the MSc programme in Fuel Cells and Hydrogen Technology (HYTEC), you will study energy systems based on hydrogen and fuel cell technology.

The programme covers production of hydrogen, application of hydrogen in fuel cells and interaction with other energy systems. Hydrogen technology is a very important aspect in future industrial energy supply systems but also in the transport industry and energy storage systems.

The teaching of the programme is carried out in an innovative, dynamic and challenging environment through a combination of research-based courses, team-based project work and a high degree of interaction with industrial partners and energy supply companies.

The companies take an active part in providing project proposals for the problem-oriented project work, guest lectures and visits to the companies.

The programme provides knowledge of modelling and optimisation of the thermal, electrical and chemical subsystems. Career opportunities include R&D departments in major companies working with hydrogen and fuel cells based technologies and systems.

The teaching is carried out in English because many international students are enrolled in the study programme.

Content of Study Programme in Fuel Cells and Hydrogen Technology

1st semester

This semester is common for the two thermal specialisations in Energy Engineering: Thermal Energy and Process Engineering (TEPE) and Fuel Cells and Hydrogen Technology (HYTEC).

For students with a Bachelor of Science (BSc) degree from Aalborg University the credit of the project work is 15 ECTS, whereas it is 10 ECTS (INTRO project) for students with a BSc degree from another university.

The project technical topics are identical, but students from another university have one extra course which includes theory of Problem Based Learning (PBL). This method is the primary teaching method used at Aalborg University, and it is applied in all projects. The documentation of the project work is also different:

Students with a BSc degree from Aalborg University should:

  • Document the project work by a paper, a poster and a presentation at an internal conference (CES) together with an appendix report, all in English.

Students with a BSc degree from another university should:

  • Document the work by a project report written in English.

1st Semester Project for Students with a BSc degree from Aalborg University: Thermo-Mechanical Analysis Methods

On this semester, focus is on a thermal or fluid dynamical problem. The problem may be a process or a typical thermal engineering component which, when applied or in use, is exposed to thermal and/or fluid mechanical effects of a steady-state or a transient nature.

The project may be to study the stress and strain conditions imposed, or to study the design requirements. Often, neither of these can be calculated in advance with certainty. Numerical methods will be applied in order to investigate the effects of changes in various coefficients.

An optimal design of the process or component is to be determined. Finally, some experimental verification of the model is to be carried out.

Project examples:

  • Numerical investigation of 2-dimensional flow
  • Aerodynamic design of AAU Eco-Marathon Racer
  • Cooling of electrical components
  • Transients studies of a boundary layer'

1st Semester INTRO Project for Students with a BSc degree from Another University than Aalborg University: Problem-based Project Organised Learning in Thermo-Mechanical Analysis Methods

The purpose of this semester is to give the students a comprehension of the problem-based learning method (PBL) applied at Aalborg University. Focus is to give the students experience in carrying out project work in connection with problems in the subject area of thermal energy engineering. The students will write a project report documenting their project work.

Knowledge will be given to students in subject areas related to the chosen specialisation. The technical focus is on a thermal/fluid problem where steady-state or transient analyses are to be performed, e.g. study of stress and strain conditions or study of design requirements. Numerical methods are to be applied to investigate the effect of changes in various coefficients. The design should be optimised, and some experimental verification of the setup models is to be carried out.

The assessment of the INTRO semester project is a stop-test. It is a precondition that this project is passed to be able to continue on the 2nd semester of the MSc study.

Project examples

  • Simulation and optimisation of refrigeration systems
  • Characterisation and design of fuel cell system for a Shell Eco-Marathon vehicle
  • Modelling of a fuel cell system for domestic combined heat and power plant
  • Theoretical and experimental investigation of thermoelectric power generation devices and their applications.

2nd Semester: Modelling and Optimisation of Fuel Cell Systems

The 2nd semester project focuses on modelling and optimisation of a physical fuel cell or related hydrogen system. The project serves to improve the students’ advanced knowledge of systems, by using fuel cells and hydrogen technology. The fundamental competences required for thermodynamics engineering and control of thermodynamic systems are to be developed.

The students are to develop a non-linear dynamical model of a system, e.g. by using block diagrams as in Simulink. Simultaneously, a data acquisition and a control system are developed in e.g. the Labview real-time system through which basic analog data acquisition and control are interconnected.

Project examples

  • Modelling and optimisation of hydrogen production systems (e.g. reformers or electrolysis plants)
  • Theoretical and experimental investigation of transient carbon monoxide poisoning in PEM fuel cell stacks.

3rd Semester: Optimisation, Diagnosis and Control of Fuel Cell and Hydrogen Technology

The project work will focus on optimisation, control and diagnosis of fuel cell or hydrogen systems. First, the system is to be modelled and different system identification methods can be applied to determine the parameters of the system. The system model is then verified by simulations and data time series from either a real system or a laboratory set-up. Based on the model, the optimisation, control or diagnostic system is set up to improve the performance of the system with regard to power output, energy efficiency, life time extraction, fault detections, etc. The system is to be implemented and verified experimentally.

To practice scientific communication skills, the project result, or parts of it, must be published in an article written in English. This article is to be presented at an internal seminar (CES).

Courses are offered of which 10 ECTS are to be chosen. The courses may vary from year to year, depending on the number of students of the various specialisations, the on-going projects and the research performed at the Department of Energy Technology. Further, courses from other universities might be used as electable courses. However, the following two courses are always available:

  • Neural network and Fuzzy logic - 5 ECTS
  • System identification and diagnosis – 5 ECTS

Project examples:

  • Design and construction of an enthanol reformer in the laboratory
  • Modelling and optimisation of an automotive hybrid fuel cell system
  • Optimisation and process integration of an integrated fuel cell reforming system
  • Modelling and optimisation regarding the dynamics of hydrogen storage systems

4th Semester: Master’s Thesis in Fuel Cells and Hydrogen Technology

The Master's Thesis may study new subjects or be an extension of the project work of previous semesters. It will normally be carried out in collaboration with an industrial partner or an energy supply company assuming the character of industrial research or development work. Alternatively, it may support one or more research projects at the Department of Energy Technology, or another research facility, assuming the character of research. Often, students write scientific papers reporting the work of their Master's Theses. The project can be of either theoretical or experimental nature, or a combination of both. As courses are not normally offered on this semester, the entire semester is dedicated to the thesis work.

Examples of a Master's Theses:

  • Development of a fuel cell-based automobile
  • Optimisation and adaptation of the energy system of fuel cell based combined heat and power plant systems (CHP)
  • Advanced process integration of on-board fuel cell reforming systems
  • Modelling and optimisation of the hydrogen storage of a hydrogen-based aircraft

Energy laboratories

At the Department of Energy Technology, you will find a lot of well-equipped and modern test laboratories enabling you to carry out exciting laboratory experiments. These tests will verify the theoretical analysis, which you apply during the project work. The laboratories make it possible to perform realistic tests within the electrical and thermal area and have special laboratories for fuel cells and hydrogen technologies, together with hybrid cars, and they all include advanced computer-based measurement and control facilities.

Furthermore, the majority of the project work is carried out in cooperation with the industry, giving you the possibility to do some of the project work in a company. The companies will come up with project proposals and provide equipment or data for the project work.

Please make sure you send your application form and further documentation via post to the International Office by the required deadline.Furthermore please note the official language requirements for international students applying to Aalborg University. You must complete and pass one of the following:IELTS (academic test): 6.5TOEFL (paper-based): 550TOEFL (computer-based): 230TOEFL (internet-based): 80Cambridge ESOL: C1Admission to the MSc programme in Fuel Cells and Hydrogen Technolo English Language Requirements IELTS band: 6.5 TOEFL paper-based test score : 550 TOEFL iBT® test: 80
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