Study of a pilot photovoltaic-electrolyser-fuel cell power system for a geothermal heat pump heated greenhouse and evaluation of the electrolyser efficiency and operational mode
AbstractThe intrinsic factor of variability of renewable energy sources often limits their broader use. The photovoltaic solar systems can be provided with a power back up based on a combination of an electrolyser and a fuel cell stack. The integration of solar hydrogen power systems with greenhouse heating equipment can provide a possible option for powering stand-alone greenhouses. The aim of the research under development at the experimental farm of Department of Agro-Environmental Sciences of the University of Bari Aldo Moro is to investigate on the suitable solutions of a power system based on photovoltaic energy and on the use of hydrogen as energy vector, integrated with a ground source heat pump for greenhouse heating in a self sustained way. The excess energy produced by a purpose-built array of solar photovoltaic modules supplies an alkaline electrolyser; the produced hydrogen gas is stored in pressured storage tank. When the solar radiation level is insufficient to meet the heat pump power demand, the fuel cell starts converting the chemical energy stored by the hydrogen fuel into electricity. This paper reports on the description of the realised system. Furthermore the efficiency and the operational mode of the electrolyser were evaluated during a trial period characterised by mutable solar radiant energy. Anyway the electrolyser worked continuously in a transient state producing fluctuations of the hydrogen production and without ever reaching the steady-state conditions. The Faradic efficiency, evaluated by means of an empirical mathematic model, highlights that the suitable working range of the electrolyser was 1.5Ã·2.5 kW and then for hydrogen production more than 0.21 Nm3hâ€“1.
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