Methane reforming is an endothermic reaction between methane, steam and/or CO2. The products are a mixture of hydrogen and CO, called syngas. In solar reforming, the calorific value of the fuel is upgraded by 20-30%, accounted for the contribution of the solar energy. The products can be directly combusted in a gas turbine for electricity generation or, can be used as a source for hydrogen production. The process is attractive where the sun is plentiful and where natural gas is available close by (e.g. Italy). The products can be piped in the existing pipeline and can be used as a fuel by customers far from the solar plant. Solar reforming can also be applied to other methane containing feedstocks such as biogas, and CO2 contaminated wells. This makes solar reforming a powerful candidate for benign, pollution free fuel processing in the future hydrogen economy. In the framework of the EC/FP4 the fundamentals of this technology have been developed (SOLASYS project) and tested at a scale of few hundreds kilowatts solar input. Based on the results of the SOLASYS project, the SOLREF project aims to bring the technology forward to the edge of industrialisation.
Three main subjects that are crucial to success of this technology will be studied in the SOLREF project.
1) A durable and stable catalytic system for reforming different feedstock’s at high temperatures that complies with the specific conditions imposed by the solar application, such as rapid thermal fluctuations.
2) Mechanical modifications and improvements to the reformer and the concept design of the industrial module.
3) Establishing operation procedures, especially for faster start up and shut down. Industrial partners who, following successful completion of SOLREF including the pre-design of a pilot plant, would look to demonstrate and apply the technology in southern Italy back the project.
Call for proposal
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Funding SchemeSTREP - Specific Targeted Research Project