Modeling complex dispersed energy and clean water systems for the U.S./Mexico border

Hugo Francisco Lopez Herrera, University of Texas at El Paso


As world population grows, and its technology evolves, the demand for electricity inexorably increases. Until now most of this electricity has been produced via fossil fuels, non-renewable energy resources that are irreversibly deteriorating our environment. On the economical aspect it does not get any better. Let’s not forget market rules, the higher the demand and lower the offer, the higher the price we will have to pay. Oil is an excellent example. ^ Some countries try to solve this situation with Pharaohnic projects, i.e. investing absurd amounts of money in 'green electricity' building monstrous dams to power equally monstrous hydroelectric power plants. The only problem with this is that it is not green at all---it does have an enormous environmental impact---it is extremely complicated and expensive to implement. ^ It is important to point out, that this research project does not try to solve world’s thirst for electricity. It is rather aimed to help solve this problematic at a much lower scale---it should be considered as an extremely small step in the right direction. It focuses on satisfying the local electricity needs with renewable, non-contaminating and locally available resources. More concisely, this project focuses on the attainment and use of hydrogen as an alternate energy source in El Paso/Juarez region. ^ Clean technology is nowadays available to produce hydrogen and oxygen, i.e. the photoelectrolysis process. Photovoltaic cells coupled with electrolytic devices can be used to produce hydrogen and oxygen in a sustainable manner. In this research, simulation models of hybrid systems were designed and developed. They were capable to compare, predict and evaluate different options for hydrogen generation. On the other hand, with the produced hydrogen from the electrolysis process it was possible to generate electricity through fuel cells. ^ The main objectives of the proposed research were to define how to use the resources for the attainment of hydrogen and distribution of it in El Paso/Juarez region. More precisely, the goals were the conversion of brines and waste-waters to hydrogen via electrolysis, and the generation of electricity through fuel cells. Thereafter, the specific objectives were to (1) design a simulation model for hydrogen generation, (2) design and simulate a model of photovoltaic (PV) array capable to generate the required energy for the process, (3) simulate fuel cells in order to be used as electricity power supply in remote houses, and (4) simulate a complete remote house hybrid system. The results of this research gave us information about the feasibility of high-volume hydrogen generation with the diverse resources of the region. On the other hand, this research has shown the alternatives of local energy generation, and efficiency of a remote house hybrid system located in El Paso/Juarez area. Experiences obtained from this research will also provide information for future investigations in the field of alternate energy sources, in order to get a clean environment through sustainable development. ^

Subject Area

Environmental Sciences|Engineering, Environmental|Energy

Recommended Citation

Herrera, Hugo Francisco Lopez, "Modeling complex dispersed energy and clean water systems for the U.S./Mexico border" (2006). ETD Collection for University of Texas, El Paso. AAI3242130.