Advanced Power Controls for Hydrogen Hybrid Microgrids (HHM) with Thermal Storage

D. Tucker, R.J. Lank
Resilient Power Works, LLC; National Energy Technology Laboratory,
United States

Keywords: hydrogen, solid oxide fuel cells, hybrid-powered microgrids


The Hydrogen Hybrid Microgrid proposal involves developing advanced power controls that are designed to enable the wide-spread implementation of hydrogen-powered hybrid generation microgrids attainable for the nation’s distribution grid. The controls being worked on are called the “Precision Power Platform” (PPP) and they involve integrating (and monitoring) dynamic, supervisory and cybersecurity functions; these controls have multiple capabilities that will enable the national grid to become more resilient, more distributed in nature and cleaner – with the microgrids and the PPPs (controllers) being “embedded” in the distribution network (at substations at mid-voltage levels of 15,000 volts or less). This hybrid system is currently a cyber-physical configuration, located at the HyPer Lab facility – part of the DOE’s National Energy Technology Lab (NETL), located in Morgantown, West Virginia (WV). Resilient Power Works (applicant) has an on-going CRADA relationship with NETL, a federal lab. Dr. David Tucker is the Director at the HyPer Lab, which has the cyber-physical capabilities to conduct the research required for the purposes of this application. This hybrid generating configuration is powered by hydrogen, and not by burning natural gas (NG) directly in a turbine. Instead, the NG is used to produce hydrogen on-site. This results in hi-efficiency of fuel and very little carbon footprint. Through the use of a natural gas reformer and other attributes (such as thermal and not chemical storage), two models of this “Hydrogen Hybrid Microgrid” (HHM) are in the development stages: i. HHM for the Production of Electricity (Solely)– Utility-Scale ii. HHM for the Production of Combined Heat and Power (CHP) –Industrial Capacity Both models require further development of the advanced controls that permit: i. Interface with Utility Operators / Private Operators ii. Networking with other HHM Units operating in the same Distribution Service Territory – permitting tandem operation to optimize electric production during a black-out and adding Black-start Capability to the Utility Operators to restart the Grid after a Black-out. This hybrid generation model has at its core a turbine that is powered in principal the same way as a wind turbine: hi-velocity compressed air turns the turbine shaft. Hot air produced by hydrogen fueling a Solid Oxide Fuel Cell (SOFC), which provides the thermal energy required to power the turbine. This precision combination of turbine and SOFC has already produced game-changing improvements in both efficiencies (of fuel consumption) and life extension of equipment. (For example, this hybrid model at the HyPer Lab has demonstrated that the life of a SOFC in this hybrid system can theoretically be extended by a factor of seven timeS or up to 14 years which would vastly improve the cost effectiveness of the HHM. The advanced power controls are at the heart of this improved lifecycle.) The power generation system is a hybrid–fueled by hydrogen, produced on-site with any suitable carbon-based fuel stock.