Renewable production of water, hydrogen, and power from ambient moisture
Hobson, Garth V.
Gannon, Anthony J.
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This thesis developed a concept design and prototype system capable of increasing and improving the main energy constraints the Department of Defense must overcome to meet future mission requirements, energy availability and resiliency. The prototype system will reduce the dependency on fossil fuels by generating specific amounts of power using hydrogen produced with only renewable sources. To achieve this the prototype system relies in the integration of various commercially available components: solar panels, dehumidification units, electrolytic cell, diaphragm pump and proton exchange membrane (PEM) fuel cell. Experimental results were obtained for each of the components. The solar panels were found to generate sufficient power to operate all the components in the system. The dehumidification units showed lower capacity for water extraction from ambient moisture than expected. The electrolytic cell was found to use less power to produce the hydrogen flow required than anticipated. The PEM fuel cell presented an exponential decrease in power generated halfway through the tested operational cycle that can be attributed to low hydrogen mass flow and low hydrogen pressure. Even though the prototype system was found to operate at lower efficiencies than other established power generating systems, the main objectives for this thesis were achieved, and the system showed great capacity for further improvements toward increasing and improving energy availability and resiliency. Recommendations are given to increase the water extraction from ambient moisture, increase the mass flow of hydrogen to improve the power quality generated by the PEM fuel cell, increase the pressure for the hydrogen prior to the PEM fuel cell, and implementation of an automated data collection method.
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