Hydrogen is an essential component of power-to-gas technologies that are needed for a complete transition to renewable energy systems. Although hydrogen has zero GHG emissions at the end-use point, its production could become an issue if non-renewable, and pollutant energy and material resources are used in this step. Therefore, a crucial step for the fully developed hydrogen economy is to find alternative hydrogen production methods that are clean, efficient, affordable, and reliable. With this motivation, in this study, an integrated and continuous type of hydrogen production system is designed, developed, and investigated. This system has three components. There is a solar spectral splitting device (Unit I), which splits the incoming solar energy into two parts. Photons with longer wavelength is sent to the photovoltaic thermal hybrid solar collector, PV/T, (Unit II) and used for combined heat and power generation. Then the remaining part is transferred to the novel hybrid photoelectrochemical-chloralkali reactor (Unit III) for simultaneous H2, Cl2, and NaOH production. This system has only one energy input, which is the solar irradiation and five outputs, namely H2, Cl2, NaOH, heat, and electricity. Unlike most of the studies in the literature, this system does not use only PV or only a photoelectrochemical reactor. With this approach, solar energy utilization is maximized, and the wasted portion is minimized. By selecting PV/T rather than PV, the performance of the panels is maximized because recovering the by-product heat as a system output in addition to electricity, and the PV/T has less waste and higher efficiency. The present reactor does not use any additional electron donors, so the wastewater discharge is only depleted NaCl solution, which makes the system significantly cleaner than the ones available in the literature. The specific aim of this study is to demonstrate the optimum operating parameters to reach the maximum achievable production rates and efficiencies while keeping the exergy destruction as little as possible. In this study, there are four case studies, and in each case study, one decision variable is optimized to get the desired performance results. Within the selected operating parameter range, all performance criteria (except exergy destruction) are normalized and ranked for proper comparison. The maximum production rates and efficiencies with the least possible exergy destruction are observed at the operating temperature of 30 °C. At 30 °C, 4.18 g/h H2, 127.55 g/h Cl2, 151 W electricity, and 716 W heat are produced with an exergy destruction rate of 95.74 W and 78% and 30% energy and exergy efficiencies, respectively.
- Solar energy