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CPOTE2020 logo
6th International Conference on
Contemporary Problems of Thermal Engineering
Online | 21-24 September 2020

Abstract CPOTE2020-1155-A

Book of abstracts draft
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Photovoltaic and unitized regenerative fuel cell plant fed with biogas from food waste in a commercial building

Barbara MENDECKA, University of Florence, Italy
Daniele CHIAPPINI, University of Rome Niccolò Cusano, Italy
Raffaello COZZOLINO, University of Rome Niccolò Cusano, Italy
Laura TRIBIOLI, University of Rome Niccolò Cusano, Italy

In 2012, in the United States, 4.6 million small commercial buildings across the nation consumed 47% of the overall primary energy and an additional average growth of 1.6%/year from 2012 to 2040 has been estimated by the Department of Energy. A fruitful way to reduce the energetic and environmental impact of these buildings might by distributed generation with renewable energy technologies, such as photovoltaic panel arrays. As a matter of fact, due to dismatches between power demand and power production, photovoltaic panels have their greatest potential when coupled to a storage device. Also fuel cells are gaining interest at international level as a promising technology for distributed generation. Their main limitations, though, are production and distribution of hydrogen - the best candidate fuel for these devices - due to lack of adequate infrastructures. For the above-mentioned reasons, photovoltaic panels may be coupled to a unitized regenerative polymer electrolyte membrane fuel cell as storage/backup system, where hydrogen is produced by the cell when working as electrolyzer. Moreover, hydrogen on-site production can be increased by reforming of biogas produced by an anaerobic digester fed with food waste available from the same commercial building. A battery pack is also included in the plant as secondary storage/backup system. The energetic effectiveness of the same polygeneration plant in different climate zones has then been assessed, including a sensitivity analysis on the biogas production.

Keywords: Waste recovery, Biogas, Unitized regenerative fuel cell, Polygeneration unit, Commercial building