Energy Systems

, Volume 10, Issue 1, pp 185–210 | Cite as

Performance evaluation of a HT-PEM fuel cell micro-cogeneration system for domestic application

  • Myalelo NomnqaEmail author
  • Daniel Ikhu-Omoregbe
  • Ademola Rabiu
Original Paper


Fuel cell-based micro-cogeneration systems are seen to be one of promising technologies for distributed power generation for households. In this work, the operational performance of a 1 kW\(_{\mathrm{e}}\) residential micro-cogeneration system based on a high temperature proton exchange membrane fuel cell (HT-PEMFC) is investigated. A design concept of a system consisting of a fuel processing unit and power generating unit is implemented using mathematical models in gPROMS Model Builder\(^{\circledR }\). The objective outputs evaluated includes the energy outputs and their corresponding efficiencies (thermal and electrical) and the cogeneration efficiency. The fuel ratio, fuel flow rate, current density and fuel utilization were varied in order to examine their effect on the overall performance of the cogeneration system. Depending on the operating point chosen, the analyses of the system show that electrical efficiencies of 42.8%, thermal efficiency of 47.2% and cogeneration efficiencies of 90% can be achieved.


HT-PEM fuel cell HTPEM Micro-cogeneration Fuel utilization Fuel cell system System efficiency 

List of symbols


Catalyst surface area, m\(^{2 }\) g\(^{-1}\)


Concentration, mol m\(^{-3}\)

\(C^{{ Pt}}\)

Concentration on the catalyst surface, mol m\(^{-3}\)

\(C_{{ dissolved}}\)

Equilibrium concentration, mol m\(^{-3}\)

\(C^{{ ref}}\)

Reference concentration on the catalyst surface, mol m\(^{-3}\)

\(D_{{ ij}}^{{ eff}}\)

Binary diffusion coefficient, m\(^{2}\) s\(^{-1}\)

\(D^{H_3 PO_4 }\)

Diffusion coefficient of hydrogen/oxygen in phosphoric acid, cm\(^{2}\) s\(^{-1}\)


Activation energy, kJ mol\(^{-1}\)


Faraday constant, 96,485 C mol\(^{-1}\)


Mole fraction


Exchange current density, A m\(^{-2}\)

\(i_o^{{ ref}}\)

Reference exchange current density, A m\(^{-2}\)


Exchange current density, A m\(^{-2}\)

\({ LHV}\)

Lower heating value J kg\(^{-1}\)


Molecular mass, g mol\(^{-1}\)


Mass flow rate, kg s\(^{-1}\)


Molar flux, mol s\(^{-1}\) m\(^{-2}\)


No of electrons transferred


Pressure, bar

\(P_{{ elec}}\)

Electrical power, W


Gas constant, 8.314 J mol\(^{-1}\)K\(^{-1}\)


reaction rate, kmol s\(^{-1}\) kg\(_{{ cat}}^{-1}\)

\(Q_{{ th}}\)

Thermal power, W

\(S_{{ Pt}}\)

Real platinum surface area, m\(^{2}\)


Temperature, K

\(T_{{ ref}}\)

Reference temperature, K


Velocity, m s\(^{-1}\)

\(V_{{ cell}}\)

Cell voltage, V

\(V_{{ ocv}}\)

Open circuit voltage, V


Acid doping level


Distribution domain

Greek symbols

\(\gamma \)

Reaction order

\(\alpha \)

Transfer coefficient

\(\varepsilon \)


\(\theta _{{ CO}}\)

Catalyst site coverance by carbon monoxide

\(\eta _{{ act}}\)

Activation loss, V

\(\eta _{{ ohm}}\)

Ohmic loss, V

\(\eta _{{ elec}}\)

Electrical efficiency, %

\(\eta _{{ th}}\)

Thermal efficiency, %

\(\eta _{{ cogen}}\)

Cogeneration efficiency, %

\(\kappa \)

Proton conductivity, S cm\(^{-1}\)



The financial assistance of the National Research Foundation (NRF) of South Africa towards this research is hereby acknowledged. Opinions expressed and conclusions arrived at, are those of the authors and are not necessarily to be attributed to the NRF. The Authors would like to thank Dr. Yusuf Isa from the Durban University of Technology for his assistance with the development of the models.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Chemical EngineeringCape Peninsula University of TechnologyCape TownSouth Africa

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