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A Systems Study on Combined Heat and Power Fuel Cell Systems: A Techno-Economic-Environmental Assessment


Increasing global energy demands and climate change concerns are necessitating the development of energy conversion systems with high efficiency and minimal environmental impact. Fuel cell technologies offer a promising role in addressing energy security and carbon emissions due to their efficient energy conversion process and clean emissions profiles in comparison to fossil fuel combustion based-systems. Combined heat and power fuel cell systems (CHP FCS) offer great potential from both an economic and environmental standpoint because they can produce both electricity and useful heat onsite. Many barriers to wide-scale implementation of CHP FCS exist, including 1) a lack of detailed modeling studies of CHP FCS with sensitivity to different system design specifications, 2) the high manufacturing costs of fuel cells, and 3) a clear understanding of the life-cycle benefits of fuel cells. Given the interdependencies between design specifications, costs, and operational characteristics are vital to the success of CHP FCS, a full systems study is needed for proper analysis and robust outcomes. This work expands the scope of existing studies to develop an integrated assessment to target current adoption barriers and access the viability of fuel cell technologies for CHP applications. This work accesses system design and performance, identify opportunities for cost reduction, and evaluate the lifetime costs and benefits to provide a platform for wide-scale adoption of fuel cell technologies in CHP applications.

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