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This paper presents a set of novel soft-switching techniques to increase the power conversion efficiency in fuel cell (FC) systems using a full-bridge topology. For this purpose, a special right-aligned modulation sequence is developed to minimize conduction losses while maintaining soft-switching characteristics in the MOSFETs. Traditional auxiliary elements in the primary, such as series inductors that are impractical for realizing due to the extreme input current, are avoided and reflected to the output of the rectifier to minimize circulating current and generate soft transitions in the output diodes. As a result, the proposed combined techniques successfully reduce conduction losses, minimize reverse-recovery losses in the output rectifiers, minimize transformer ringing, and ensure low stress in all the switches. The high efficiency is maintained in the entire range of loading conditions (0%-100%) while taking into consideration remarkable challenges associated with FC power conversion: high input current, low voltage and poor regulation, and wide range of loading conditions. A detailed analysis of the techniques for efficiency gains are presented and a phase-shift zero-voltage switching topology is employed as a reference topology to highlight the mechanisms for performance enhancement and the advantages in the use of the special modulation. Experimental results of a 1-kW power converter are presented to validate the efficiency gains, illustrate the benefits of the special modulation, and demonstrate the soft-switching transitions.
Date of Publication: Feb. 2011