Development of a component design tool for metal hydride heat pumps

Essene L Waters, Purdue University


Given current demands for more efficient and environmentally friendly energy sources, hydrogen based energy systems are an increasingly popular field of interest. Within the field, metal hydrides have become a prominent focus of research due to their large hydrogen storage capacity and relative system simplicity and safety. Metal hydride heat pumps constitute one such application, in which heat and hydrogen are transferred to and from metal hydrides. While a significant amount of work has been done to study such systems, the scope of materials selection has been quite limited. Typical studies compare only a few metal hydride materials and provide limited justification for the choice of those few. In this work, a metal hydride component design tool has been developed to enable the targeted down-selection of an extensive database of metal hydrides to identify the most promising materials for use in metal hydride thermal systems. The material database contains over 300 metal hydrides with various physical and thermodynamic properties included for each material. Sub-models for equilibrium pressure, thermophysical data, and default properties are used to predict the behavior of each material within the given system. For a given thermal system, this tool can be used to identify optimal materials out of over 100,000 possible hydride combinations. The selection tool described herein has been applied to a stationary combined heat and power system containing a high-temperature proton exchange membrane (PEM) fuel cell, a hot water tank, and two metal hydride beds used as a heat pump. A variety of factors can be used to select materials including efficiency, maximum and minimum system pressures, pressure difference, coefficient of performance (COP), and COP sensitivity. The targeted down-selection of metal hydrides for this system focuses on the system’s COP for each potential pair. The values of COP and COP sensitivity have been used to identify pairs of highest interest for use in this application. The metal hydride component design tool developed in this work selects between metal hydride materials on an unprecedented scale. It can be easily applied to other hydrogen-based thermal systems, making it a powerful and versatile tool.




Pourpoint, Purdue University.

Subject Area

Aerospace engineering|Materials science

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