Effective thermal-electric control system for hydrogen production based on renewable solar energy

Antonios Antoniou, Cesar Celis, Ronald Mas, Arturo Berastain, Nikolas Xiros, George Papageorgiou, Athanasios Maimaris, Tao Wang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

This paper focuses on the design and use of a control system for a renewable energy production plant based on hydrogen. The proposed control system aims at ensuring the stability and smooth functionality of the plant, which consists of a (i) photovoltaic system connected to an electrolyzer through a battery, (ii) a DC/DC step down transformer, and (iii) an electrolyzer heat exchange system. In this study, solar irradiance is the main system input, and hydrogen production the main output. Since the system utilizes solar energy as input, it depends on the random input of solar irradiance, ambient temperature, and wind flow. Furthermore, the electrolyzer's functionality is subject to several operational variables including cell voltage, current, temperature, and pressure. The electrolyzer heat exchange system operates at specified water temperatures and flow rates. The DC/DC output voltage, and therefore the voltage supplied to the electrolyzer, is regulated by changing its duty cycle. To regulate hydrogen production in the renewable energy production plant, an efficient control system is required. Accordingly, in this work, a control system is designed accounting for three different electrolyzer technologies, alkaline, PEM (proton exchange membrane), and E-TAC (electrochemical - thermally activated chemical water splitting). Subsequently, the effectiveness of the control system is analyzed using Matlab and Simulink models. The main results indicate that the battery is a crucial element in the whole system as it supplies the necessary energy to the electrolyzer. By regulating the appropriate components, the proposed control system proved capable of minimizing power fluctuations and increasing system efficiency up to 20% depending on ambient conditions. Additionally, the results indicate E-TAC and PEM efficiencies 13% and 7% higher than alkaline, respectively.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)173-183
Number of pages11
JournalInternational Journal of Hydrogen Energy
Volume53
DOIs
StatePublished - 31 Jan 2024

Keywords

  • Batteries
  • Control systems
  • DC/DC converters
  • Electrolyzers
  • Hydrogen production
  • Photovoltaics
  • Renewable energy

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