Hardware-in-the-loop simulation of an optimized energy management incorporating an experimental biocatalytic methanation reactor

Towards renewable energy systems, the coupling of multiple sectors is important and incorporates novel technologies where currently no models exist that correctly represent all transient effects. Therefore, we present a method that incorporates Hardware-in-the-Loop simulations where virtual components as models are coupled to real and experimental facilities in real time. By including experimental components, a higher validity can be obtained and the practical applicability of renewable energy scenario can be discussed more profoundly. In this paper, the considered energy system consists of an experimental biocatalytic methanation reactor, a real photovoltaic park, a regenerative fuel cell and short-term storage units to supply a residential district. A representative control sequence of the methanator is obtained by modeling the scenario as an optimal control problem. A first HIL simulation highlights that modifications of the instrumentation are required for a grid injection of the generated methane. The scientific approach can be applied to any energy system where some of the considered components are available as experimental or real facilities. Non-exisiting components are simply replaced by models. The presented approach helps to determine which parts or process parameters are crucial for the planned operation before the overall energy system is realized on a larger scale.