Skip to content

Hydrogen Recovery from Waste Gas Streams to Feed (High-Temperature PEM) Fuel Cells: Environmental Performance under a Life-Cycle Thinking Approach


Fossil fuels are being progressively substituted by a cleaner and more environmentally friendly form of energy, where hydrogen fuel cells stand out. However, the implementation of a competitive hydrogen economy still presents several challenges related to economic costs, required infrastructures, and environmental performance. In this context, the objective of this work is to determine the environmental performance of the recovery of hydrogen from industrial waste gas streams to feed high-temperature proton exchange membrane fuel cells for stationary applications. The life-cycle assessment (LCA) analyzed alternative scenarios with different process configurations, considering as functional unit 1 kg of hydrogen produced, 1 kWh of energy obtained, and 1 kg of inlet flow. The results make the recovery of hydrogen from waste streams environmentally preferable over alternative processes like methane reforming or coal gasification. The production of the fuel cell device resulted in high contributions in the abiotic depletion potential and acidification potential, mainly due to the presence of platinum metal in the anode and cathode. The design and operation conditions that defined a more favorable scenario are the availability of a pressurized waste gas stream, the use of photovoltaic electricity, and the implementation of an energy recovery system for the residual methane stream.

Funding source: The authors are grateful for the funding of the Spanish Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness through the Ceres-Procom Project CTM2016-76176 (AEI/FEDER, UE) and the funding of European Union through the Project SOE1/P1/E0293 (INTERREG SUDOE/FEDER, UE), “Energy Sustainability at the Sudoe Region: Red PEMFC-Sudoe”.
Related subjects: Policy & Socio-Economics
Countries: Chile ; France ; Spain

Article metrics loading...

This is a required field
Please enter a valid email address
Approval was a Success
Invalid data
An Error Occurred
Approval was partially successful, following selected items could not be processed due to error