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SolHy- Experimental, computational and environmental impact study of a solar powered hydrogen production system for domestic cooking applications in developing economies


Project description

The project investigated the application of a stand-alone Proton Exchange Membrane (PEM) electrolyser plant to produce hydrogen gas at a scale suitable for storage and distribution to multiple households for cooking.

In many developing economies, a high percentage of domestic energy demand is for cooking based on fossil and biomass fuels. Their use has serious health consequences affecting almost 3 billion people.  Cleaner cooking systems have been promoted in these countries such as solar cooking and smokeless stoves with varying degrees of success. In parallel, solar electrolytic hydrogen systems have been developed and increasingly used during the last 25 years for electricity, heat and automobile fueling applications.

This study by Brunel University has developed and tested experimentally in the laboratory a solar hydrogen plant numerical model suitable for small communities, to generate and store cooking fuel. The numerical model was developed in TRNSYS and consists of PV panels supplying a PEM electrolyser of 63.6% measured stack efficiency and hydrogen storage in metal hydride cylinders for household distribution. The model includes novel components for the operation of the PEM electrolyser, its controls and the metal hydride storage, developed based on data of hydrogen generation, stack temperature and energy use from a purpose constructed small-scale experimental rig. The model was validated by a second set of experiments that confirmed the accurate prediction of hydrogen generation and storage rates under direct power supply from PV panels.

Based on the validated model, large-scale case studies for communities of 20 houses were developed. The system was sized to generate enough hydrogen to provide for typical domestic cooking demand for three case-studies; Jamaica, Ghana and Indonesia. The daily cooking demands were calculated to be 2.5kWh/day for Ghana, 1.98kWh/day for Jamaica and 2kWh/day for Indonesia using data mining and a specific quantitative survey for Ghana. The suitability of weather data used in the model was evaluated through Finkelstein Schafer statistics based on composite and recent weather data and by comparing simulation results. A difference of 0.9% indicated that the composite data can be confidently used.  Simulations results indicate that a direct connection system to the PV plant rather than using a battery is the optimal design option based on increased efficiency and associated costs. They also show that on average 10tonnes of CO2/year/household can be saved by replacing biomass fuel with hydrogen. 



  • The system can be assembled mainly from off-the-shelf components and marketed.
  • Possibility for R&D for storage component


  • TRNSYS Model can be used to size system for any location.
  • System could be suitable for off-grid locations in the UK (and other temperate climates) with hydrogen to be used for cooking and heating/hot water.


  • Significant climate change and health benefits
  • Increased fuel security as hydrogen is produced using local resources


  • Topriska EV, Kolokotroni M, Dehouche Z, Notievo DT and Wilson E (2016). The potential to generate solar hydrogen for cooking applications: Case studies of Ghana, Jamaica and Indonesia, Renewable Energy. Vol 95, September 2016, Pages 495–509
  • Topriska EV Kolokotroni M, Dehouche Z and Wilson E (2015). Solar hydrogen system for cooking applications: Experimental and numerical study. Renewable Energy, Vol 83, November 2015, Pages 717–728.
  • Evangelia Topriska, Maria Kolokotroni, Zahir Dehouche, Ruth Potopsingh, TopriskaE, KolokotroniM, DehoucheZ, Novieto DT and Wilson EA (2015). Analysis of domestic cooking fuels demand in Ghana: field work and case study application of solar hydrogen cooking system, WREC XIV Proceedings, University POLITEHNICA of Bucharest, Romania, June 8 – 12, 2015
  • Evangelia Topriska, Maria Kolokotroni, Zahir Dehouche, Ruth Potopsingh and Earle Wilson (2015). Chapter 18: The Application of Solar-Powered Polymer Electrolyte Membrane (PEM) Electrolysers for the Sustainable Production of Hydrogen Gas as Fuel for Domestic Cooking,  pp193-202 in Renewable Energy in the Service of Mankind Vol 1, Selected Topics from the World Renewable Energy Congress WREC 2014, Ali Sayigh (Ed), Springer,  ISBN 978-3-319-17776-2 ,ISBN 978-3-319-17777-9 (eBook)
  • TopriskaE, KolokotroniM, DehoucheZ, PotopsinghR, Wilson E (2014). The Application of Solar-Powered Polymer Electrolyte Membrane (PEM) Electrolysers for the Sustainable Production of Hydrogen Gas as Fuel for Domestic Cooking, World Renewable Energy Congress XIII (WREC),  5-8 August 2014, London, UK