Tri-generation can provide heating, cooling and electricity. It is a sustainable and efficient solution for any type of building. TRISOFC, an European project, has developed a new solution of tri-generation based on fuel cells. A new way to produce energy reducing pollutant emissions.
TRISOFC. Hydrogen as a fuel
We have talked about hydrogen several times in this blog. You can find amazing developments in hydrogen production, future iPhones powered with hydrogen, biomass as a source for hydrogen, etc. Of course hydrogen is a promising technology for cars. But we had never found a tri-generation system based on hydrogen.
The TRISOFC project has been led by the University of Nottingham. Other institutions such as the Royal Institute of Technology (KTH), the University of Birmingham and the Engineering Faculty of the University of Porto (FEUP) has also collaborated. Furthermore, Vestel Savunma Sanayi, Complex Ltd and Swerea IVF have also participated.
The project has some amazing properties as the principal investigator of the project, Dr Mark Worall, says:
The team designed, optimised and built an LT-SOFC (low temperature) tri-generation prototype, based on the integration of a novel LT-SOFC stack and a desiccant cooling unit.
The unit can work with lower temperatures than other tri-generation units. A regular one, usually requires temperatures from 800 to 1000ºC. This new development, reduces those temperatures between 500 and 600ºC.
This is important,’ Dr Worall notes, ‘Because it enables BoP and other temperature dependent components to be manufactured from relatively low cost materials, such as stainless steel, and so potentially it substantially reduces costs of materials and components.’
The results obtained by Dr Worall and the whole TRISOFC team are promising as he says:
In our system, the waste heat from the SOFC is used to re-concentrate the solution. This is a form of thermal storage, which allows us to operate the fuel cell when we don’t need cooling and use it when we do. Our system has three main advantages: firstly, it increases the conversion efficiency of the SOFC from 45 % to 55% to potentially 85 % to 95 %; secondly, it reduces the demand for electrical energy that would be needed to provide comfort cooling (and by reducing electrical energy use, we are also reducing primary energy consumption and carbon dioxide emissions) and thirdly, it reduces cooling provided by vapour-compression refrigeration systems, which currently rely on working fluids that have a global warming potential (GWP) when released.
We really encourage you to visit the website of this project and keep up with hydrogen developments. One of the most promising technologies nowadays.