This Is AuburnElectronic Theses and Dissertations

Solar Energy Conversion and PEM Technology for a Residential Back-up Power System




Biddings, Aaron

Type of Degree



Electrical Engineering


Shown in this work are the characterization, simulation, and implementation of a small-scale back-up power system powered through solar energy conversion. The technical approach utilizes solar arrays with a proton exchange membrane (PEM) electrolyzer and fuel cell. This facilitates the production and storage of electrical energy using hydrogen as a carrier. Proton exchange membrane (PEM) technology was chosen due to its relatively high power density (in comparison with other fuel cell types), its low operating temperature range, and lack of noxious emissions. The setup employs a solar array designed to provide sufficient power to the electrolyzer under varying temperature and lighting conditions. The electrical power is derived directly from the electrochemical energy stored in the hydrogen supply. In this way, the inherent instability and fluctuations in power due to the intermittent nature of solar energy are diminished. The focus of this study is strictly technical. Monetary cost considerations are beyond the scope of this document.