- freely available
Energies 2019, 12(23), 4593; https://doi.org/10.3390/en12234593
2. Materials and Methods
- Stage 1:
- Documentation, collection, interpretation of materials and data, and critical analysis.
- Stage 2:
- Discussions with several experts, researchers and PhD students on the topic of hydrogen economy, but also of civil engineers given the scope of the concept, namely stationary applications.
- Stage 3:
- Based on the data and results obtained from the previous stages, all the significant elements regarding the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats are critically discussed, analyzed, classified and the SWOT matrix was drawn.
- Stage 4:
- The SWOT matrix was used to determine strategies for strengths-opportunities (S&O), strategies for weaknesse-opportunities (W&O), strategies for strengths-threats (S&T) and strategies for weaknesses-threats (W&T). To develop S&O strategies, internal strengths are correlated with external opportunities, and strengths are key elements that will take advantage of opportunities. W&O strategies were developed by matching them internal weaknesses with external opportunities and overcoming weaknesses by taking advantage of opportunities. S&T strategies correlate internal strengths with external threats, and strengths are used to avoid threats. W&T strategies correlate internal weaknesses with external threats, and weaknesses are minimized to avoid threats.
3. Considerations Regarding Hydrogen Fuel Cell Technology
3.1. Hydrogen—Energy Vector within a Sustainable Energy System
- Hydrogen is a concentrated primary energy sources, which can be made available to the consumer in a convenient way.
- It offers the possibility of conversion into different forms of energy through high efficiency conversion processes.
- It is an inexhaustible source, if it is obtained electrolytically from water; hydrogen production and consumption represents a closed cycle, the source of production—water—is kept constant and represents a classic cycle of recirculation of this type of raw material.
- Is the easiest and cleanest fuel; the burning of hydrogen is almost entirely devoid of pollutant emissions.
- It has a much higher gravimetric energy density compared to other fuels.
- Hydrogen can be stored in various ways, such as gas at normal pressure or at high pressure, in the form of liquid hydrogen or as solid hydride.
- It can be transported over long distances, stored in the native form or in one of the modalities presented above.
- Hydrogen can be transported remotely through pipes, in safe conditions.
- Hydrogen is a non-toxic energy carrier, with a high specific energy per mass unit (for example, the energy obtained from 9.5 kg of hydrogen is equivalent to that of 25 kg of gasoline).
- Hydrogen can be generated from various energy sources, including renewable ones.
- Compared to electricity or heat, hydrogen can be stored for relatively long periods of time.
- Hydrogen can be used advantageously in all sectors of the economy (as a raw material in the industry, as a fuel for cars and as an energy carrier in sustainable energy systems to generate electricity and heat through fuel cells).
- Hydrogen burns in the presence of air, which can cause operational safety problems.
- Storing hydrogen in liquid form is difficult because very low temperatures are required to liquefy hydrogen.
- High costs of hydrogen technologies and processes.
- High costs of hydrogen energy conversion technologies through fuel cells.
- The viability/cost ratio of hydrogen and fuel cell technologies is relatively low.
- The current lack of logistics, transport infrastructure and distribution of hydrogen to final consumers requires costly investments.
3.2. Fuel Cells—Hydrogen Conversion Technology
3.2.1. General Aspects
Fuel Cell Concept
- Hydrogen or a hydrogen rich fuel is introduced to the anode, where the anode-coated catalyst separates electrons from positive ions (protons).
- At the cathode, oxygen is combined with electrons and, in some cases, with protons or water, resulting in hydrated water or ions.
The Main Types of Fuel Cell
- Low temperature (cold) fuel cells, operating between 20–100 °C;
- Medium temperature (hot) fuel cells, operating between 200–300 °C;
- Alkaline fuel cells (AFCs), with operating temperatures around 70 °C.
- Direct methanol fuel cells (DMFCs), operating at temperatures between 60–130 °C.
- Molten carbon fuel cells (MCFCs) at temperatures up to 650 °C.
- Phosphoric acid fuel cells (PAFCs) at temperatures of 180–200 °C.
- Proton exchange membrane fuel cells (PEMFCs). These work at low temperatures of 100 °C, but also at temperatures of 150 °C to 200 °C.
- Solid oxide fuel cells (SOFCs). They operate at high temperatures from 800–1000 °C.
3.2.2. Practical Applications of the Fuel Cell
- By using hydrogen technology in the generation of electricity, a degree of autonomy of 100% can be obtained compared to the national centralized network for the supply of electricity.
- Hydrogen and fuel cells meet 100% of the consumer’s energy needs, with no unmeted energy demand.
- Renewable sources can be better harnessed by completely eliminating the deficiencies related to their meteorological intermittency, but also to the issues related to the storage in batteries, eliminating totally the losses associated to these disadvantages by the technology of hydrogen, particularly electrolytic production of hydrogen based on renewable energies and storage via hydrogen, a secondary energy carrier, which can release this energy stored by the electrochemical conversion carried out by the fuel cell.
- The excess energy resulting from the operation of the systems can be harnessed by hydrogen either as green energy exported to the centralized electricity network or as a useful fuel for other types of applications.
- Electrolytic hydrogen production is directly influenced by the availability of renewable energy resources, having a variable character over time, which implicitly influences the electricity production of the fuel cell, which is also directly proportional to the availability of hydrogen.
- The carbon dioxide emissions in the case of energy systems with fuel cells are much lower, registering an average of over 80% decrease compared to the conventional energy systems that support standard applications.
- The costs of the equipment components of the energy systems regarding the hydrogen technology and the costs with the purchase of the hydrogen fuel have a high influence in the diagram of the total costs of these systems, but the technology of electricity generation based on hydrogen and the methods of production, storage and distribution of hydrogen are the object of continuous research and development, and over time a number of pilot projects currently in progress in this field will be validated, which will influence and determine cost reductions in the near future, and this equipment, and also hydrogen fuel, will be competitive with the classic technologies in the field of energy production and storage [12,13,14,15,16,17,18,19,20,21,22,23,24,35,36,37,38,39,40,41,42,43].
3.2.3. The Main Modalities to Energy Supply through Hydrogen Fuel Cell Technologies
CHP With Fuel Cells in the Buildings Domain
Backup Power Systems wich Using Renewable Energy Sources or Converting Waste into Energy
Prime Power Generation Large Capacity Electric Power Stations
4. Results and Discussion
4.1. Strengths–Weaknesses–Opportunities–Threats (SWOT) Analysis
4.2. Strategies Proposed for the Use in Stationary Applications of Hydrogen Energy
- More than 850 MW of large stationary fuel cell systems with a (> 200 kw) nominal power have been installed worldwide for power generation and CHP applications up until 2018.
- Worldwide, the use of three types of fuel cell technologies is prevalent: MCFC, SOFC and PAFC.
- AFC and PEMFC are relatively new technologies under development and implementation within stationary applications.
- The main modalities of integrating hydrogen fuel cell technology into stationary applications are in the form of CHP units with fuel cells for small individual residential buildings, back-up power systems and large capacity electric power stations or distributed generation systems.
- The key factors that influencing development include: energy and climate policies, fuel cell funding programmes, concurrent technologies, the attendance of fuel cell system producers and energy costs.
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|Higher Heating Value (HHV)/liquid hydrogen (LH2)||MJ/kg||141.90–119.90|
|HHV/cryogenic hydrogen gas (CGH2)||MJ/m3||11.89–10.05|
|Air diffusion coefficient||cm2/s||0.61|
|Specific heat||kJ/kg K||14.89|
|Ignition limits in air||% (volum)||4–75|
|Ignition energy in the air||Millijoule||0.02|
|Flame temperature in air||K||2318.00|
|Energy in explosion||kJ/g TNT||58.823|
|Stoichiometric mixture in air||%||29.53|
|Power reserve factor||-||1.00|
|Fuel Type||Energy/Mass Unit (J/kg)||Energy/Volume Unit (J/m3)||Energy Reserve Factor||Carbon Emission Specific (kgC/kg Fuel)|
|Fuel Cell Type||Typical Electrical Efficiency (LHV)||Power (kW)||Applications||Advantages||Disadvantages|
|Stable materials allow lower cost components;|
|Sensitive to CO2 in fuel and air;|
Electrolyte management (aqueous);
Electrolyte conductivity (polymer).
Suitable for hybrid/gas turbine cycle;
Suitable for carbon capture;
Suitable for CHP.
|High temperature corrosion and breakdown of cell components;|
Long start-up time;
Low power density.
|PAFC||40%||5–400||Distributed generation.||Suitable for CHP; Increased tolerance to fuel impurities.||Expensive catalysts;|
Long start-up time;
|PEMFC||60% direct H2|
40% reformed fuel
Power to power (P2P).
|Solid electrolyte reduces corrosion & electrolyte management problems;|
Sensitive to fuel impurities.
Potential for reversible operation;
Suitable for CHP;
Suitable for hybrid/gas turbine cycle.
|High temperature corrosion and breakdown of cell components; |
Long start-up time;
Limited number of shutdowns.
|Electrical capacity (kW)||300+||100–400||0.75–2||0.75–250|
|Electrical efficiency (LHV)||47%||42%||35–39%||45–60%|
|Thermal capacity (kW)||450+||110–450||0.75–2||0.75–250|
|Thermal efficiency (LHV)||43%||48%||55%||30–45%|
|Application||Residential & Commercial||Commercial||Residential||Residential & Commercial|
|Degradation rate (per year)||1.5%||0.5%||1%||1–2.5%|
|Expected lifetime (hours)||20,000||80,000–130,000||60,000–80,000||20,000–90,000|
|Energy Consumption (kWh/kgH2)||Efficiency (LHV)|
|S1. Technical strengths:|
S2. Environmental strengths:
S4. Diversity in resources harnessing:
|W1. Unavailability of an efficient hydrogen infrastructure:|
W2. Introduction risks:
W4. System integration:
W5. High costs:
|O1. Development potential|
O2. Improve energy security
O3. Increase cooperation
O4. New business opportunity
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