Heat recovery from low-temperature proton exchange membrane (PEM) fuel cells poses a number of challenges. In response to these challenges, thermodynamic assessments of proposed heat recovery methods are studied in the context of combined heat and power (CHP) for building applications. Preheating combustion air in conjunction with desiccant dehumidification and absorption cooling technologies is one of the two strategies examined in this study. The other approach integrates the PEM fuel cell with a water-loop heat pump (WLHP) for direct heat recovery. As the primary objective, energy-saving potentials of the adopted heat recovery strategies are estimated with respect to various benchmarks. The quantified energy-saving potentials are translated into effective CHP performance indices and compared with those typically specified by the manufacturers for service hot water applications. The need for developing CHP performance protocols is also discussed in light of the proposed energy recovery techniques—thereby, accomplishing the secondary objective.

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