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Power generation from solar energy based on PEM fuel cell


The process is based on PEM fuel cell with specific catalysts and assisted by solar thermal energy to dissociate 2-propanol/acetone chemicals (a new coupling) at about 90ºC into hydrogen to feed it in the fuel cell to generate power. Dr. Chaurasia has don e preliminary work on it in Japan and so far experimentally obtained power density 0.259mW/cm2. This demonstrated feasibility and validated the concept of solar power generation based on fuel cell system. The purpose of this project is to improve the power density and efficiency for delivering usable power from the new solar thermal PEM fuel cell system.

The specific objectives are as follows:
1. To design and test a new solar thermal system based on PEM fuel cell for power generation from solar radiation.
2. Study on PEM fuel cell in conjunction with solar thermal power assisted 2-propanol/acetone/hydrogen chemical reactions with specific catalysts and develop optimum configurations to maximize power density.
3. Study of solar thermal 2-propanol dehydrogenation reactor to serve as generator of hydrogen for fuel cell.
4. Study of different components in fabrication of PEM fuel cells for their performance.
5. Design of prototype of solar thermal fuel cell and its testing for power generation from solar thermal energy.

Dr. Chaurasia will use advanced chemical engineering techniques under the supervision of Prof. Kendall to develop specific types of catalysts, which increase the performance of the PEM fuel cells and 2-propanol reactor. The required specific catalysts (pure/composite) are to be synthesized for optimum catalytic configurations to maximize power density that will enable design of a practical solar thermal fuel cell to harvest chemical energy in addition to heat output. Dr. Chaurasia has a strong background on solar thermal engineering (34 years research experience) and will be able to bring together solar thermal and fuel cell technologies.

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