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Hydrogen from Solar Thermal Energy: High Temperature Solar Chemical Reactor for Co-production of hydrogen and carbon black from natural gas cracking


The SOLHYCARB proposal addresses the exploration of an unconventional route for potentially cost effective hydrogen production with concentrated solar energy. The novel process thermally decomposes natural gas (NG) in a high temperature solar chemical reac tor. This process results in two products: a H2-rich gas and a high-value nano-material, Carbon Black (CB). H2 and marketable CB are thus produced with renewable energy. Solar energy is stored as a transportable fuel. The fuel has zero CO2 emission: carbon as opposed to CO2 is sequestered, and fossil fuels are saved. Potential impacts on CO2 emission reduction and energy saving are respectively: 14 kg CO2 avoided and 277 MJ per kg H2 produced, with respect to conventional NG steam reforming and CB processin g. The proposal aims at designing, constructing, and testing innovative solar reactors at different scales (1-10 kW and 50 kW) for operating conditions at 1500-2300 K and 1 bar. First, two prototypes based on different concepts of solar receiver/reactor (d irect and indirect heating concepts) will be developed and studied. A critical analysis of the results from experiments and modelling will determine the best reactor concept suitable for solar methane splitting. Based on the concept retained, a 50 kW power pilot reactor will be developed. The targeted results are: methane conversion over 80%, H2 yield in the off-gas over 75%, and CB properties equivalent to industrial products. This experimental work is highly combined with advanced reactor modelling, study of separation unit operations, industrial uses of the produced gas, and determination of CB properties for applications in batteries and polymers. Decentralized and centralized commercial solar chemical plants (and hybrid plants) will be designed for 50/1 00 kWth and 10/30 MWth. Projected cost of H2 for large-scale solar plants depends on the price of CB: 14 Euros/GJ for the lowest CB grade sold at 0.66 Euros/kg and decreasing to 10 E/GJ for CB at 0.8 E/kg

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3, Rue Michel-Ange

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