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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Understanding the Design and Performance of Distributed Tri-Generation Systems for Home and Neighborhood Refueling


The lack of a hydrogen infrastructure remains a major barrier for hydrogen fuel cell vehicle (FCV) adoption and commercialization. The high cost of building an extensive hydrogen station network and low utilization in the near term discourages private and public investment. Innovative, distributed, small-volume hydrogen refueling methods such as home and neighborhood tri-generation systems that produce electricity and heat for buildings, as well as hydrogen for vehicles may provide a solution because the technology is available, initial capital investment is modest, and it has potential to alleviate consumer’s fuel availability concerns. This research provides analytical tools for policy makers, manufacturers and consumers to analyze tri-generation and similar energy systems in a systematic way; and to apply these tools to case studies to understand the design and technical, economic, and environmental performances of tri-generation systems for home and neighborhood refueling.These analytical tools are applied to case studies in two categories: home refueling trigeneration systems for a single-family residence; and neighborhood refueling trigeneration systems for multiple nearby households. Overall tri-generation is economically competitive with early public stations for fueling hydrogen cars.

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