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Title: Combined heat, cooling, and power systems based on half effect absorption chillers and polymer electrolyte membrane fuel cells
Authors: Loreti, Gabriele 
Facci, Andrea Luigi 
Baffo, Ilaria 
Ubertini, Stefano 
Issue Date: 2019
Fuel cell based trigeneration plants, that utilize absorption chillers to convert waste heat into cooling energy, are a promising technology to satisfy heat, power, and cooling demand in warm climates. Polymer electrolyte membrane fuel cells, that operate at low temperature (<100°C), are the most technologically mature among the several types of fuel cells. Thermally activated cooling technologies are widely utilized in trigeneration plants to improve their efficiency. However, absorption chillers require relatively high grade thermal energy and their coupling with low temperature fuel cells is relatively untapped. Herein, we perform a techno-economic analysis of a trigeneration plant based on low temperature polymer electrolyte membrane fuel cells and half-effect absorption chillers. A thermo-chemical model is developed to estimate the performance of a cogeneration plant based on low temperature fuel cells and of the half-effect absorption chiller. The behavior of such combined heat, cooling, and power plant is also analyzed within real energy management scenarios, considering different energy demands, climatic conditions, energy costs, and plant layouts. The control strategy of the power plant is optimized through a graph-based methodology previously developed and validated by the authors. Total energy cost and CO2 emissions are then compared to those of a reference scenario where electricity is acquired from the distribution grid, thermal energy is produced through a natural gas boiler, and a mechanical chiller is used for cooling. The results show that the utilization of half-effect absorption chillers boosts the environmental and economic benefits for all the considered scenarios. We also demonstrate that the utilization of the absorption chiller reduces the imbalance between the results obtained for the different scenarios (i.e. climates), although economic and environmental benefits associated to distributed generation are strongly influenced by the energy context.
ISSN: 0306-2619
DOI: 10.1016/j.apenergy.2018.10.109
Appears in Collections:A1. Articolo in rivista

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