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Process Design and Improvement for Hydrogen Production Based on Thermodynamic Analysis: Practical Application to Real-world On-site Hydrogen Refueling Stations


An energy source transition is necessary to realize carbon neutrality, emphasizing the importance of a hydrogen economy. The transportation sector accounted for 27% of annual carbon emissions in 2019, highlighting the increasing importance of transitioning to hydrogen vehicles and establishing hydrogen refueling stations (HRSs). In particular, HRSs need to be prioritized for deploying hydrogen vehicles and developing hydrogen supply chains. Thus, research on HRS is important for achieving carbon neutrality in the transportation sector. In this study, we improved the efficiency and scaled up the capacity of an on-site HRS (based on steam methane reforming with a hydrogen production rate of 30 Nm3/h) in Seoul, Korea. This HRS was a prototype with low efficiency and capacity. Its efficiency was increased through thermodynamic analysis and heat exchanger network synthesis. Furthermore, the process was scaled up from 30 Nm3/h to 150 Nm3/h to meet future hydrogen demand. The results of exergy analysis indicated that the exergy destruction in the reforming reactor and heat exchanger accounted for 58.1% and 19.8%, respectively, of the total exergy destruction. Thus, the process was improved by modifying the heat exchanger network to reduce the exergy losses in these units. Consequently, the thermal and exergy efficiencies were increased from 75.7% to 78.6% and from 68.1% to 70.4%, respectively. The improved process was constructed and operated to demonstrate its performance. The operational and simulation data were similar, within the acceptable error ranges. This study provides guidelines for the design and installation of low-carbon on-site HRSs.

Funding source: This work was supported by the Korea Institute of Industrial Technology within the framework of the following projects: “Development of Global Optimization System for Energy Process [grant numbers IR-23- 0040, IZ-23-0039, UR-23-0045],” “Development and Application of Industry 4.0 Technology for Process Intensification [grant numbers IR23-0047, UR-23-0046, IZ-23-0041],” and “Development of the super clean modular platform technology based on AI for eco-friendly ship to respond to IMO 2020/2050 regulations [grant numbers EH-23-0016].”
Related subjects: Production & Supply Chain
Countries: Korea, Republic of

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