Integration of Combined Heat and Power Generators into Small Buildings - A Transient Analysis Approach
DeBruyn, Adrian Bryan
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Small combined heat and power generators have the potential to reduce energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions of residential buildings. Recently, much attention has been given to these units. To date, the majority of studies in this field have concentrated on the steady operational performance of a specific generator type, and the available computer models have largely been theoretical in nature. <br /><br /> The main goal of this study was to evaluate the performance of the latest combined heat and power generators, when integrated into Canadian residential homes. A fair comparison of four 1 kW (electrical) units was made. The combined heat and power units studied were based on PEM fuel cell, solid oxide fuel cell, Stirling Engine, and internal combustion engine energy converters. <br /><br /> This study utilized recent test data in an attempt to evaluate the most efficient method of integrating the combined heat and power units into residential houses. Start-up, shut down, and load change transients were incorporated into the simulations. The impact of load variations due to building thermal envelope differences and varying building heating system equipment was evaluated. The simulations were evaluated using TRNSYS software. The building heat demands were determined with eQuest hourly building simulation software. <br /><br /> All of the combined heat and power units under study were capable of providing a net annual benefit with respect to global energy and greenhouse gas emissions. The fuel cells offer the highest integrated performance, followed closely by the internal combustion engine and lastly the Stirling engine. Annual global energy savings up to 20%, and greenhouse gas savings up to 5. 5 tonnes per year can be achieved compared to the best conventional high efficiency appliances. <br /><br /> Heat demand influences performance greatly. As the thermal output of the generator unit approaches half of the average building thermal demand, the system design becomes critical. The system design is also critical when integrating with a forced air furnace. Only the PEM fuel cell unit produces clear global energy and emissions benefits when operating in the summertime.