# Energy and Economic Advantages of Using Solar Stills for Renewable Energy-Based Multi-Generation of Power and Hydrogen for Residential Buildings

^{1}

^{2}

^{3}

^{*}

## Abstract

**:**

^{3}smaller, respectively. Thanks to the considerable drop in the purchase price of components, the payback period (PBP) dropped by 3.109 years compared with MVC and 2.801 years compared with RO, which is significant. Moreover, the conducted parametric study implied the high technical and economic viability of the system with ST for a wide range of building loads, including high values.

## 1. Introduction

#### 1.1. Background

#### 1.2. Literature Review

^{3}per day with 10 stages.

_{2}S abatement unit to curb emissions. Thorough thermodynamic analysis considered the key parameters and operating conditions, revealing reduced hydrogen sulfide emissions and hydrogen production with the first-law and second-law efficiencies at 52.97% and 55.69%, respectively. Additionally, Assareh et al. [18] explored alternative energy sources due to diminishing fossil fuels, emphasizing solar and geothermal energies. Their study conducted a comparative analysis of geothermal- and solar-driven poly-generation units, assessing energy and exergy for the clean production of H

_{2}and power. Utilizing Engineering Equation Solver, the models considered Bandar Abbas’s ambient temperature. The results favored the geothermal system, showing 0.17% greater exergy efficiency and 11.21% more H

_{2}generation. Sensitivity analysis identified the key parameters, and exergy analysis highlighted the evaporator’s significant role. Their unit annually produced 174.913 kg of H

_{2}and 352,816 kWh of electricity.

_{x}and CO

_{2}emissions compared with coal. The results demonstrated significant production of electricity, heating, cooling, freshwater, and H

_{2}, with energetic and exergetic efficiencies at 58.54% and 16.45%, respectively. Multi-criteria optimization enhanced the techno-economic operations, achieving an exergetic efficiency of 17.26% and a total cost rate of USD 1.57 per second in the optimal scenario.

_{2}production. The system achieved a total product unit exergy cost and energy efficiency of USD 16.6 per GJ and 36.4%, respectively, and an exergetic efficiency of almost 17%. A comparison with different biomass fuels highlighted variations in the total product unit exergy costs. Bozgeyik et al. [23] conducted a study proposing a solar-, geothermally, and biomass-based poly-generation unit, addressing a literature gap in sub-system design patterns. Using various components, the system produced power, hydrogen, heating, cooling, and freshwater. EES software assessed its performance, revealing energy and exergy efficiencies of 65.55% and 27.09%, respectively. The system delivered 7.76 MW of power, 3.52 kg/h of hydrogen, and 6.16 kg/s of freshwater. The unit product cost was USD 21.79/GJ, and the social-ecologic factor stood at 1.37, showcasing the system’s sustainability and environmental impact.

#### 1.3. Contributions of This Paper

#### 1.4. Organization of the Paper

## 2. Methods and Materials

#### 2.1. The Studied System

_{2}and O

_{2}through electrolysis reactions. The produced H

_{2}by the PEMEC is then compressed and is sent into the H

_{2}storage unit. The stored H

_{2}is utilized during the time the PV modules could not offer the consumer requirement (nights, times with cloudy skies, low radiation levels, and so on). It is consumed by a fuel cell (FC) to generate electricity. The considered type of FC here is a PEM, like with the EC. Since electrical energy by both the PV modules and PEMFC have a direct current (DC), the system was equipped with an inverter as well to change the DC to an alternating current (AC) for electrical appliances in the building.

_{2}. The used water should have acceptable requirements, including the proper salt levels. Taking this point into consideration, a water desalination unit was employed in the system for reducing the level of salts in the available water to the desired extent. Three types of desalination technologies are considered and compared here. Two of them are reverse osmosis (RO) and mechanical vapor compression (MVC) as the conventional systems, while another is a solar still (ST), a novel developing technology. The ST is an active system (with pumping for recirculation of water in a solar collector), while RO and MVC need electricity to run. Therefore, a part of the produced electricity is used for them, and the purified water is sent to a water tank for storage.

#### 2.2. Energy Simulation

#### 2.2.1. PV

_{PV}can be calculated using the Sandia Array Performance Model (SAPM) approach [27]:

^{−1}·s [27]. Moreover, the reference condition had solar radiation (G) and ambient temperature (T

_{a}) values of 1000 W·m

^{−2}and 20 °C, respectively.

#### 2.2.2. PEMEC

_{2}and O

_{2}[31,32,33]:

_{2}by the electrolyzer is as follows [34,35]:

^{−1}. In order to obtain ${V}_{elz}$, Equation (5) can be used [36]:

#### 2.2.3. Desalination Units

_{2}for each time interval was known (Equation (4)). Based on the chemical reaction of the PEMEC, for the production of 1 kmol of H

_{2}, 1 kmol of H

_{2}O should be decomposed. Therefore, the amount of required water, which is assumed to be completely supplied by desalination unit, would be as follows [37]:

_{2}and H

_{2}O are 2 and 18 kg·kmol

^{−1}, respectively. Consequently, we have

#### 2.2.4. Compressor

_{2}is, the less space is required for its storage. Therefore, the produced H

_{2}passes through a compressor for the pressure increase. The required work from the compressor is expressed as follows [39]:

_{2}is an ideal gas whose specific isobaric heat capacity is shown by ${c}_{p}$. The ratio of the specific isobaric to isovolumic heat capacities is also indicated by k. Additionally, for the compressor and inlet, the subscripts ‘C’ and ‘in’ are utilized.

#### 2.2.5. Electrolyzer H_{2} Mass Flow Determination

_{2}, and the value is determined only if ${m}_{{H}_{2},elz}$ is known. Therefore, a nonlinear equation should be solved to find ${m}_{{H}_{2},elz}$:

#### 2.2.6. Hydrogen Storage Tank

_{2}enters the storage tank for use at the times when PVs are not able to meet the required power of the building. H

_{2}behaves like an ideal gas. Therefore, the hydrogen storage tank volume (${\forall}_{\mathrm{tank}}$) could be computed using Equation (10) [36]:

#### 2.2.7. PEMFC

_{2}is supplied from the storage tank and takes part in the reaction with O

_{2}. The reaction is accompanied by generation of work (electricity) and heat at the same time:

_{2}for production of the electrical power of ${\dot{W}}_{FC}$ equals the following [41]:

_{2}concentration, which is computed via Equation (29) [43]:

#### 2.3. Economic Simulation

- The initial purchase price of the components;
- The cost of purchasing materials;
- The cost of operation and maintenance.

## 3. Case Study

Parameter | Value | Reference |
---|---|---|

PV module type | Mono-crystalline | [57] |

Tracking status of PV | Single-axis tracking | - |

number of PV per string | 5 | - |

β_{ref} of PV | −0.30%·K^{−1} | [57] |

${\eta}_{ref}$ of PV | 17.7% | [57] |

PV nominal power | 290 W | [57] |

PV dimensions | 1.64 × 1.00 × 0.035 m^{3} | [57] |

${\eta}_{C}$ of compressor | 0.85 | [54] |

${r}_{c}$ of compressor | 10 | [54] |

${A}_{eff,FC}$ of PEMFC | 25 cm^{2} per each cell | [54] |

L of PEMFC | 0.036 cm | [54] |

${\eta}_{FC}$ of PEMFC | 0.80 | [54] |

${\zeta}_{1}$ of PEMFC | −0.9514 V | [54] |

${\zeta}_{2}$ of PEMFC | 0.00312 V·K^{−1} | [54] |

${\zeta}_{3}$ of PEMFC | 0.000074 V·K^{−1} | [54] |

${\zeta}_{4}$ of PEMFC | −0.000187 V·K^{−1} | [54] |

${\eta}_{V,elz}$ of PEMEC | 0.74 | [58] |

Parameter | Value | References | |
---|---|---|---|

System life span | 25 years | - | |

Bought hydrogen cost | USD 3 per kg | [59] | |

Discount | 6.54% | [60] | |

Inflation | 3.1% | [60] | |

Price of electricity | Variable during year | [61] | |

Cost for operation and maintenance | 0.045 IPP | [50,62] | |

The initial purchase price | ST | USD 0.03975 per m^{3} of capacity | [63] |

MVC | USD 80 per daily m^{3} | [64] | |

RO | USD 0.2340 per m^{3} of capacity | [65] | |

Miscellaneous items | 0.05 of the summation of the indicated components | [54] | |

PEMFC | USD 2000 per kW | [66] | |

Inverter | USD 100 per kW | [67] | |

Hydrogen storage tank | USD 1.7 per m^{3} | [68] | |

Compressor | USD 240 per kW | [69] | |

PEMEC | USD 900 per kW | [70] | |

PV | USD 250 per kW | [71] |

## 4. Results and Discussion

#### 4.1. The Enhancement Potential of the Proposed System

^{3}. The RO application and MVC application were accompanied by 319.3 and 522.1 m

^{3}bigger tank capacities. This means they had 22.1% and 36.2% greater capacities, for which tank volume levels of 1763.5 and 1966.3 m

^{3}were observed, respectively.

#### 4.2. Impact of the Building Load

^{3}when the ABLF was 0.80 and 0.85, respectively. This continued with storage capacities of 1373.8, 1410.8, and 1444.2 m

^{3}, where the ABLF values were 0.85, 0.90, 0.95, and 1.00, respectively. At the end of the variation range (i.e., an ABLF of 1.20), the hydrogen tank capacity was 1769.8 m

^{3}. This means there was an 590 m

^{3}increase in this performance parameter and, consequently, a mean slope increase of 147.5 m

^{3}per each 10% of growth in the ABLF.

## 5. Conclusions

^{3}smaller installed PV capacity, electrolyzer size, and hydrogen storage volume tank, respectively. In comparison with MVC usage, the ST was able to reduce the three indicated parameters by 11.6 kW, 11.5 kW, and 522.1 m

^{3}, respectively. It led to such a drastic drop in the initial purchase price of the components that the payback period (PBP) was improved by 2.801 years for RO and 3.109 years for MVC.

## Author Contributions

## Funding

## Data Availability Statement

## Acknowledgments

## Conflicts of Interest

## Nomenclature and Abbreviations

Abbreviations | |

ASEL | Annual saving in electricity |

ABLF | Annual building load factor |

SAPM | Sandia Array Performance Model |

PEMEC | Proton exchange membrane electrolyzer |

PV | Photovoltaic |

PBP | Payback period |

PEMFC | Proton exchange membrane fuel cell |

Symbols | |

$a$ | Coefficient of SAPM model (-) |

N | Number |

IPP | Initial purchase price (USD) |

t | Time |

$d$ | Discount |

$CF$ | Cash flow (USD) |

$PW$ | Present worth (USD) |

$MM$ | Molar mass (kg·kmol^{−1}) |

$L$ | Length (m) |

$R$ | Resistance (Ω) |

$\u2102$ | Concentration |

$x$ | Partial pressure |

$I$ | Current (A) |

$i$ | Current density (A·m^{−2}) or inflation |

$\mathbb{R}$ | The gas constant (kJ·kg^{−1}·K^{−1}) |

$\forall $ | Volume (m^{3}) |

${c}_{V}$ | The constant volume heat capacity (kJ·kg^{−1}·K^{−1}) |

$k$ | The isobaric-to-constant-volume heat capacity ratios |

$\dot{m}$ | Mass flow rate (kg·s^{−1}) |

${c}_{p}$ | The isobaric heat capacity (kJ·kg^{−1}·K^{−1}) |

$V$ | Voltage (V) |

$F$ | Faraday constant (96,485.3321 sA·mol^{−1}) |

$m$ | Mass (kg) |

$A$ | Area (m^{2}) |

$P$ | Power (W) or pressure (kPa) |

$\dot{W}$ | Work (W) |

$WS$ | Wind speed (m·s^{−1}) |

$b$ | Coefficient of SAPM model (m^{−1}·s) |

$G$ | Solar radiation (W·m^{−2}) |

$T$ | Temperature (K) |

Greek symbols | |

$\beta $ | The thermal coefficient of PV (%·K^{−1}) |

$\eta $ | Efficiency |

ρ_{M} | Membrane-specific resistance |

$\zeta $ | The coefficient of activation loss of PEMFC equation (V·K^{−1} or V) |

${\lambda}_{air}$ | Air stoichiometry |

Subscripts | |

electricity saving | Electricity saving |

O&M cost | Operating and maintenance cost |

capital cost | Capital cost |

eff | Effective |

0 | The time of 0 |

internal | Internal |

O_{2} | Oxygen |

H_{2}O | Water |

sold hydrogen | Sold hydrogen |

concentration | Concentration |

activation | Activation |

ohmic | Ohmic |

nernst | Nernest (Ideal fuel cell procution) |

des | Desalination system |

FC | Fuel cell |

max | Maximum |

tank | Tank |

in | Inlet |

hum | Humidity |

C | Compressor |

V | Voltage |

H_{2} | Hydrogen |

required load | The required load |

other gases | Other gases |

elz | Electrolyzer |

ref | The reference condition |

a | Ambient |

PV | Photovoltaic |

corr | Corrected |

Superscripts | |

channel | Channel |

sat | Saturation |

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**Figure 3.**Comparing the system equipped with an ST (the proposed one) and the systems with RO and MVC (the conventional ones); (

**a**) Installed PV capacity; (

**b**) Electrolyzer capacity; (

**c**) Hydrogen tank capacity; (

**d**) Payback period; (

**e**) The initial purchase price.

**Figure 4.**The monthly profile of contributions of PVs and PEMFCs to the electricity provision to the building.

**Figure 6.**The hourly profile for summation of PV and PEMFC power values subtracted by building load (starting from 1 January).

**Figure 8.**Variation in the installed capacity of the PVs when changing the annual building load factor.

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## Share and Cite

**MDPI and ACS Style**

Bahrami, A.; Soltanifar, F.; Fallahi, P.; Meschi, S.S.; Sohani, A.
Energy and Economic Advantages of Using Solar Stills for Renewable Energy-Based Multi-Generation of Power and Hydrogen for Residential Buildings. *Buildings* **2024**, *14*, 1041.
https://doi.org/10.3390/buildings14041041

**AMA Style**

Bahrami A, Soltanifar F, Fallahi P, Meschi SS, Sohani A.
Energy and Economic Advantages of Using Solar Stills for Renewable Energy-Based Multi-Generation of Power and Hydrogen for Residential Buildings. *Buildings*. 2024; 14(4):1041.
https://doi.org/10.3390/buildings14041041

**Chicago/Turabian Style**

Bahrami, Armida, Fatemeh Soltanifar, Pourya Fallahi, Sara S. Meschi, and Ali Sohani.
2024. "Energy and Economic Advantages of Using Solar Stills for Renewable Energy-Based Multi-Generation of Power and Hydrogen for Residential Buildings" *Buildings* 14, no. 4: 1041.
https://doi.org/10.3390/buildings14041041