Application of a decomposition strategy to the optimal synthesis/design of a fuel cell sub-system


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Virginia Tech


The application of a decomposition methodology to the synthesis/design optimization of a stationary cogeneration fuel cell sub-system for residential/commercial applications is the focus of this work. To accomplish this, a number of different configurations for the fuel cell sub-system are presented and discussed. The most promising candidate configuration, which combines features of different configurations found in the literature, is chosen for detailed thermodynamic, geometric, and economic modeling both at design and off-design. The case is then made for the usefulness and need of decomposition in large-scale optimization. The types of decomposition strategies considered are time and physical decomposition. Specific solution approaches to the latter, namely Local-Global Optimization (LGO) and Iterative Local-Global Optimization (ILGO) are outlined in the thesis. Time decomposition and physical decomposition using the LGO approach are applied to the fuel cell sub-system. These techniques prove to be useful tools for simplifying the overall synthesis/design optimization problem of the fuel cell sub-system.

Finally, the results of the decomposed synthesis/design optimization of the fuel cell subsystem indicate that this sub-system is more economical for a relatively large cluster of residences (i.e. 50). To achieve a unit cost of power production of less than 10 cents/kWh on an exergy basis requires the manufacture of more than 1500 fuel cell sub-system units per year. In addition, based on the off-design optimization results, the fuel cell subsystem is unable by itself to satisfy the winter heat demands. Thus, the case is made for integrating the fuel cell sub-system with another sub-system, namely, a heat pump.



decomposition, fuel cell, Optimization