For automotive applications, polymer electrolyte membrane fuel cells (PEM-FCs) are preferred due to their good characteristics with respect to rapid starting, high power density, and dynamics. In order to support customers in this highly promising field of innovation, ETAS offers the LABCAR-MODEL-FC simulation model of fuel cell systems for HiL tests.

Testing ECUs for fuel cell systems

The LABCAR-MODEL portfolio comprises simulation models of the IC engine, lithium-ion battery for vehicle propulsion, electric motor, fuel cell, and vehicle dynamics, as well as the vehicle, driver, and environment.

ETAS’s LABCAR-MODEL-FC describes the behavior of fuel cell systems. The entire system is modeled – from the electrochemistry of the PEM-FC (polymer electrolyte membrane fuel cell) stack to the reactant and coolant supply – which enables the reliable testing and calibration of fuel cell system ECUs.

LABCAR-MODEL-FC models the stack, hydrogen supply, air supply, and coolant supply in detail. The technology is based on exact simulations of physical processes, which in turn are founded on complex calculations of cell reactions and of the interaction between the stack and peripherals. Because of the complexity of modern fuel cell stacks, one-dimensional (1D) spatially distributed simulation of the stack is required. In order to meet current and future requirements, a special add-on for two-dimensional (2D) stack modeling is possible with the simulation model of fuel cell systems for HiL-based calibration (LABCAR-MODEL-FCCAL). The PC-based simulation target LABCAR-RTPC provides the power required for real-time simulation.

The LABCAR-MODEL-FC simulation model allows users to test and optimize fuel cell ECUs early on hardware-in-the-loop test rigs.

Transposing cost-intensive tests and safety-relevant applications to hardware-in-the-loop test rigs gives customers a direct advantage in the development process. Practical examples include modeling the cold-start conditioning of PEM-FC stacks or the critical handling of hydrogen.

Benefits of ETAS simulation models

ETAS’s fuel cell models comprise a Simulink® component library and various cell models for simulating stacks and peripherals. The models’ real-time capability facilitates integration into an ETAS HiL system for testing fuel cell ECUs and allows both safety-relevant fault simulation and the initial precalibration of ECU software. Because the models take into account all relevant physical phenomena, they can be used for testing everything from basic software to advanced control, operation, and diagnostic functions. ETAS’s simulation model portfolio offers HiL simulation, including hardware, software, and simulation models, from a single source.


Through the focus on specific automotive requirements, users can carry out a large number of typical closed-loop ECUs tests:

  • Testing typical ECU functions for hydrogen supply:
    inert gas estimation, purge strategies, gas injector control
  • Testing typical ECU functions for oxygen supply:
    Air compressor control, water recirculation
  • Testing typical ECU functions for coolant system:
    cooling strategy, pump control, radiator activation
  • Testing typical ECU functions for diagnostics and management:
    leak detection, cold starting, pressure coordination, emergency shutdown
  • Design and calibration for optimizing operation:
    water management, balance of plant


  • LABCAR-MODEL-FC facilitates the testing of everything from basic software sophisticated control, operation, and diagnostic functions of fuel cell ECUs
  • The LABCAR-MODEL-FCCAL add-on offers a 2D stack model for the precise modeling of cell voltage, membrane state, or water accumulation in real time in order to meet present and future requirements
  • Can be integrated into LABCAR-MODEL-VVTB (simulation model of virtual vehicle test bench for HiL tests)
  • ETAS offers hardware, software, and models as well as engineering services for customization and expert consulting, all from a single source