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Performance Evaluation of a Fuel Cell mCHP System under Different Configurations of Hydrogen Origin and Heat Recovery


Motivated by the growing importance of fuel cell systems as the basis for distributed energy generation systems, this work considers a micro-combined heat and power (mCHP) generation system based on a fuel cell integrated to satisfy the (power and thermal) energy demands of a residential application. The main objective of this work is to compare the performance of several CHP configurations with a conventional alternative, in terms of primary energy consumption, greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and economic viability. For that, a simulation tool has been developed to easily estimate the electrical and thermal energy generated by a hydrogen fuel cell, and all associated results related to the hydrogen production alternatives: excess or shortfall of electrical and thermal energy, CO2 emission factor, overall performance, operating costs, payback period, etc. A feasibility study of different configuration possibilities of the micro-CHP generation system has been carried out considering different heat-to-power ratios (HPRs) in the possible demands, and analyzing primary energy savings, CO2 emissions savings and operating costs. An extensive parametric study has been performed to analyze the effect of the fuel cell’s electric power and number of annual operation hours as parameters. Finally, a study of the influence of the configuration parameters on the final results has been carried out. Results show that, in general, configurations using hydrogen produced from natural gas save more primary energy than configurations with hydrogen production from electricity. Furthermore, it is concluded that the best operating points are those in which the generation system and the demand have similar HPR. It has also been estimated that a reduction in renewable hydrogen price is necessary to make these systems profitable. Finally, it has been determined that the most influential parameters on the results are the fuel cell electrical efficiencies, hydrogen production efficiency and hydrogen cost.

Related subjects: Applications & Pathways
Countries: Spain

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