Abstract

Hydrogen is a prominent clean fuel option for combatting global warming and producing low-emission, ecologically friendly electricity. Consequently, the proton exchange membrane water electrolysis (PEMWE) hydrogen refueling station has undergone thorough economic and environmental analysis. This work intends to fill the gap by presenting the influence of various operating circumstances and design parameters on the economic and environmental aspects of PEMWE based on various behaviors and features (I–V curve) under various scenarios. Profitability analysis (PA) is performed in terms of the net present value (NPV), discounted payback period (DPBP), benefit-cost ratio (BCR), and internal rate of return (IRR) from cumulative discounted cash flow diagrams (CFD). Also, sensitivity analysis (SA) is conducted to assess the impact of different economic factors, while simultaneously establishing CO2 footprint guidelines for optimal operating and design conditions. The findings highlight that enhancing economic feasibility and reducing environmental concerns are simultaneously achievable by increasing cathode pressure, operating temperature, and decreasing membrane thickness. At membrane thicknesses over 100 μm, the project becomes unprofitable and inefficient at 1.85 V. PEMWE becomes more valuable and sustainable with a current density of 12,000 A/m2 or higher, but it releases more CO2 emissions. Hence, utilizing excess renewable electricity in PEMWE addresses environmental concerns and enhances the overall ecological sustainability of hydrogen production.

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