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Towards Efficient Production of Sustainable Solar Fuels

Objective

With more energy from the sun striking the earth's surface in an hour than is consumed annually by fossil fuels, solar energy has the potential to provide significant part of the required global energy, in addition to substantially reducing the emissions of greenhouse gases. Two of the most severe limiting factors of using solar power are the inconsistency of the power output, due to the day/night cycle and weather conditions, and the transportation issues due to geographical location. Solar fuels, produced by combining concentrated solar power with thermochemical processes, are a promising concept to overcome both limitations. These fuels, acting as chemical energy carriers, can be generated at suitable sites and easily transported worldwide, where they can be stored and used. Current methods for solar fuel generation are based on a 2-step reduction-oxidation cycle, with each step at different pressure and temperature, thus creating technological difficulties. Moreover, the solar-to-fuel conversion efficiency of the best process is less than 6%. The goal of this research is to develop a novel method for solar thermochemical splitting of CO2 and H2O, achieving high conversion efficiency. To do so, a unique approach utilizing the use of Ceria membranes will be investigated. The research will include rigorous modelling of the physics, followed by a detailed characterization and optimization, providing a solid understanding of the overall process for the first time. In addition, a novel configuration for the solar reactor will be developed, with steady-state operation and heat recovery, a challenging feat requiring innovative design capable of operating at 1600°C. Following the theoretical research, a large scale (50kW) solar reactor will be designed and fabricated, using the acquired knowledge. The experimental data that will be acquired, combined with the theoretical knowledge, will lead to major advances in the field of solar fuels and energy production.
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Coordinator

EIDGENOESSISCHE TECHNISCHE HOCHSCHULE ZUERICH

Address

Raemistrasse 101
8092 Zuerich

Switzerland

Activity type

Higher or Secondary Education Establishments

EU Contribution

€ 191 149,44

Project information

Grant agreement ID: 832535

Status

Ongoing project

  • Start date

    1 September 2019

  • End date

    31 August 2021

Funded under:

H2020-EU.1.3.2.

  • Overall budget:

    € 191 149,44

  • EU contribution

    € 191 149,44

Coordinated by:

EIDGENOESSISCHE TECHNISCHE HOCHSCHULE ZUERICH

Switzerland