Research Papers

Modeling, Development, and Testing of a 2 MW Polymeric Electrolyte Membrane Fuel Cell Plant Fueled With Hydrogen From a Chlor-Alkali Industry

[+] Author and Article Information
Stefano Campanari

Department of Energy,
Politecnico di Milano,
Milan 20156, Italy
e-mail: stefano.campanari@polimi.it

Giulio Guandalini

Department of Energy,
Politecnico di Milano,
Milan 20156, Italy
e-mail: giulio.guandalini@polimi.it

Jorg Coolegem

Nedstack Fuel Cell Technology B.V.,
Arnhem, 6827 AV, The Netherlands
e-mail: jorg.coolegem@nedstack.com

Jan ten Have

MTSA Technopower B.V.,
Arnhem, 6827 AT, The Netherlands
e-mail: jan.tenhave@mtsa.nl

Patrick Hayes

Johnson Matthey Plc,
Swindon SN5 8AT, UK
e-mail: paddy.hayes@matthey.com

A. H. Pichel

Amsterdam, 1077 WW, The Netherlands
e-mail: ton.pichel@nouryon.com

1Corresponding author.

Manuscript received October 22, 2018; final manuscript received February 9, 2019; published online March 12, 2019. Assoc. Editor: Partha P. Mukherjee.

J. Electrochem. En. Conv. Stor. 16(4), 041001 (Mar 12, 2019) (9 pages) Paper No: JEECS-18-1113; doi: 10.1115/1.4042923 History: Received October 22, 2018; Accepted February 09, 2019

The chlor-alkali industry produces significant amounts of hydrogen as by-product which can potentially feed a polymeric electrolyte membrane (PEM) fuel cell (FC) unit, whose electricity and heat production can cover part of the chemical plant consumptions yielding remarkable energy and emission savings. This work presents the modeling, development, and experimental results of a large-scale (2 MW) PEM fuel cell power plant installed at the premises of a chlor-alkali industry. It is first discussed an overview of project’s membrane-electrode assembly and fuel cell development for long life stationary applications, focusing on the design-for-manufacture process and related high-volume manufacturing routes. The work then discusses the modeling of the power plant, including a specific lumped model predicting FC stack behavior as a function of inlet stream conditions and power set point, according to regressed polarization curves. Cells’ performance decay versus lifetime reflects long-term stack test data, aiming to evidence the impact on overall energy balances and efficiency of the progression of lifetime. Balance of plant is modeled to simulate auxiliary consumptions, pressure drops, and components’ operating conditions. The model allows studying different operational strategies that maintain the power production during lifetime, minimizing efficiency losses, as well as to investigate the optimized operating setpoint of the plant at full load and during part-load operation. The last section of the paper discusses the experimental results, through a complete analysis of the plant performance after startup, including energy and mass balances and allowing to validate the model. Cumulated indicators over the first two years of operations regarding energy production, hydrogen consumption, and efficiency are also discussed.

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Fig. 1

Working principle of a chlor-alkali plant (on the left) producing chlorine and caustic soda, with conceptual integration of a PEM FC plant (on the right) as explored by the DEMCOPEM-2MW project (adapted from Refs. [3] and [6])

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Fig. 2

Polarization at 65 °C, ambient pressure, cathode stoichiometry λ = 2.0, 85% RH, anode λ = 1.5, 85% RH

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Fig. 3

Effect of aging, polarization at 65 °C, ambient pressure, cathode stoichiometry λ = 2.0, 85% RH, anode λ = 1.5, 85% RH

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Fig. 4

Durability of DEMCOPEM-2 MW MEA in short stack, 600 mA/cm² at 65 °C, ambient pressure, cathode stoichiometry λ = 2.0, 85% RH, anode λ = 1.5, 85% RH

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Fig. 5

System layout and main material streams of the PEM fuel cell plant, as reproduced by the plant simulation model

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Fig. 6

Modular structure of the PEM fuel cell system

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Fig. 7

Example of the regressed polarization curve for a given stoichiometry at BOL

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Fig. 8

Regressed polarization curves as a function of current and time

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Fig. 9

System energy balance at BOL (five out of six groups running, net electric power 1.7 MWel)

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Fig. 10

System cumulated energy indicators during two years of operation



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