Hydrogen-Power Consortium: Two doctoral college students supervised collectively by the College of Quebec Trois Rivières and the College of Franche-Comté.

-What is your background? Have you ever been to France?

Rene Bankati:

I have a degree in electrical engineering and a master’s degree in electrical engineering. I am currently doing my third year of thesis in electrical engineering at the University of Franche-Comté. I did part of my engineering cycle in Morocco and then in Toulouse, before going to Quebec for two years for my doctorate. I didn’t know Belfort.

Luis Miguel Perez:

I come from Colombia. I have a bachelor’s and master’s degree in electrical engineering from the University of Santander. Unlike René, I am starting my doctorate at the University of Franche-Comté for 18 months. I will finish my thesis at the University of Quebec Trois Rivières. This project is very exciting because it’s the first time I’ve come to France.

-You joined the Femto ST laboratory, what are your research topics?

Luis Miguel Perez:

I’m working on an energy management system in the fuel cell. I analyze the operation of a single battery system to see if the battery usage is good or bad, with the aim of prolonging its life. I hope to find a prediction algorithm with my various research and analysis.

Rene Bankati:

Today’s hydrogen hybrid vehicles are made up of a large fuel cell and a battery. For my part, I am working on energy management of a multi-fuel cell system (comprised of several small fuel cells) based on lifetime predictions. For simplicity, we use the prediction algorithm that Luis’ work can provide to determine remaining fuel cell lifetimes. This data is then used to better manage energy, with the aim of improving the lifespan of the multi-fuel cell system.

– In concrete terms, what advances can this research bring?

Rene Bankati:

The use of prognostics in the energy management of multi-cell fuel systems is a really new concept, there is very little work on this subject. It really is an interesting track. In fact, the multi-battery system offers significant flexibility in terms of power management. When demand is not evenly distributed across batteries, there is a good chance that they will degrade and age differently. Thus, estimating its remaining service life through prognosis, and taking these estimates into account in energy management, it will be possible to improve the reliability of the entire multicellular system and prolong its service life.

In terms of objectives, I am trying to build a model of a battery-hybridized multi-cell fuel system that integrates all the essential elements for the operation of a prognostic-based energy management strategy. This modeling work will allow me to perform simulations for the digital validation of the concept. It is a real challenge, but if the results are interesting, it could be the subject of publications in specialized scientific journals.

Luis Miguel Perez:

In relation to my research, I model the fuel cell, and as a doctor would for his patient, I analyze his health status, taking into account variables: temperature, air quality or pressure for example. Thus, I determine in which condition the battery has a better lifespan. I collect data. This allows me to predict how the fuel cell behaves or degrades, tending to project itself in future conditions. I also work with artificial intelligence and it is very interesting as the behavior of the pile is reproduced and some data can be measured with AI like the amount of water in the pile. We wouldn’t be able to measure it without this technology because sensors are sometimes limited. All this will allow me to find the most suitable approach and find a powerful prognostic algorithm.

– What does this collaboration with the team of researchers at the University of Franche-Comté bring you?

Luis Miguel Perez:

There are many advantages to working with researchers who are more experienced than we are; they are highly recognized and bring us knowledge and experience in the field. It’s an honor to work with them. The team spirit is good and we interact with researchers from the same area as us, but also from other research areas, which allows for a certain open-mindedness.

Rene Bankati:

Discussing with all these researchers has a real advantage. This is something that really makes the research community strong.

For example, I was able to present my work to them. They know a lot, whether in terms of experimentation or simulation of how the system works. The point of view they brought to my research was very enriching and allowed me to have new ideas to explore in my project.

-Are the methodologies and work tools at Femto ST different from those used in the laboratories of their respective universities?

Luis Miguel Perez:

The Femto ST institute at the University of Franche-Comté has a very good reputation in the field of hydrogen. The laboratory is very well known and there are very advanced experimentation platforms compared to the university in Colombia. In terms of tools, or software, we use similar tools.

– For you, is hydrogen the energy of the future for the ecological transition?

Rene Bankati:

I would say yes. Hydrogen is an abundant resource. It is obtained by extracting with electrolysis of water to obtain pure hydrogen. But there are other ways of obtaining it that are still polluting, such as methane reform, for example. We would have to find a completely green means of production. There are still challenges to be overcome. But if we get there, I really believe that hydrogen has a lot to offer the world.

Luis Miguel Perez:

I would add that the current problem is energy storage and, in particular, renewable energy, which is intermittent and dependent on the climate, the sun, the wind. With hydrogen and fuel cells, we can better store energy in greater amounts and use it continuously. In addition, batteries can also produce heat, so they can also be considered for other needs such as heating.

What made you want to study energy?

Luis Miguel Perez:

I always dreamed of being an electrical engineer. I have seen in Colombia for many years, phenomena that appear, climate changes that have a great impact on populations. This is a reality that we have to face and that motivates me to find solutions to improve this problematic situation.

Rene Bankati:

I remember my mother always telling me when I was younger: “In your life, fear God and respect nature. » When we realize that we are responsible for the production of polluting gases that have been causing this global warming for several years, we cannot remain indifferent. That’s why I wanted to work in the field of renewable energies.

In 2019, NASA studies showed that since the pre-industrial era, CO emissionstwo lead to an average increase in the planet’s temperature of about 0.13°C over the course of a year! In 50 years, imagine what it will be like with all the heat waves and extreme weather conditions we’ve already experienced? So yes, I want to bring my stone into the building and change that.

-What are your plans after your doctorate?

Rene Bankati:

I want to continue as an engineer in research and development and not in business. I look forward to working on many concrete projects related to hydrogen and energy.

Luis Miguel Perez:

For my part, I want to continue to do research on renewable energies and their industrial applications. But for now, I’m just starting my PhD, so let’s see!

Thanks to these two PhD students for their testimonies. We wish you every success in your research and the end of your studies at the University of Franche-Comté!

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