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Proton exchange membrane fuel cell for cooperating households: A convenient combined heat and power solution for residential applications

Cappa, Francesco, Facci, Andrea Luigi, Ubertini, Stefano
Energy 2015 v.90 pp. 1229-1238
electricity, energy conservation, fuel cells, heat, households, internal combustion engines, mathematical theory, models, operating costs, profitability, temperature, thermal energy
In this paper we compare the technical and economical performances of a high temperature proton exchange membrane fuel cell with those of an internal combustion engine for a 10 kW combined heat and power residential application. In a view of social innovation, this solution will create new partnerships of cooperating families aiming to reduce the energy consumption and costs.The energy system is simulated through a lumped model. We compare, in the Italian context, the total daily operating cost and energy savings of each system with respect to the separate purchase of electricity from the grid and production of the thermal energy through a standard boiler. The analysis is carried out with the energy systems operating with both the standard thermal tracking and an optimized management. The latter is retrieved through an optimization methodology based on the graph theory. We show that the internal combustion engine is much more affected by the choice of the operating strategy with respect to the fuel cell, in terms long term profitability. Then we conduct a net present value analysis with the aim of evidencing the convenience of using a high temperature proton exchange membrane fuel cell for cogeneration in residential applications.