The present study investigates the feasibility, efficiency, and system design of a hybrid solar fuel cell system generating electric power for stationary applications such as residential buildings. The system is fed by methanol and combines methanol steam reforming and Proton Exchange Membrane (PEM) fuel cells with solar collectors to generate the required heat for the steam reforming.
The synergies of these technologies lead to a highly efficient system with significantly larger power densities compared to conventional systems and generate tremendous advantages in terms of installation and operation costs. The present investigation describes the entire proposed system and its components and presents first analytical, numerical, and experimental results of a larger project to prove the feasibility of such a system by analyzing first a bench test demonstrator generating around 10 W of electric power and finally a prototype for an entire single-family household. It is shown that the methanol-to-electricity efficiency of the entire system is above 50%.