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The entire production chain for renewable kerosene obtained directly from sunlight, H2O, and CO2 has been experimentally demonstrated. The key component of the production process is a high-temperature solar reactor containing a reticulated porous ceramic (RPC) structure made of ceria, which enables the splitting of H2O and CO2 via a 2-step thermochemical redox cycle. In the 1st endothermic reduction step, ceria is thermally reduced using concentrated solar radiation as the energy source of process heat. In the 2nd exothermic oxidation step, nonstoichiometric ceria reacts with H2O and CO2 to form H2 and CO – syngas – which is finally converted into kerosene by the Fischer-Tropsch process. The RPC features dual-scale porosity for enhanced heat and mass transfer: mm-size pores for volumetric radiation absorption during the reduction step and µm-size pores within its struts for fast kinetics during the oxidation step. We report on the engineering design of the 4 kW solar reactor and the experimental demonstration of 290 consecutive redox cycles for producing high-quality syngas suitable for the processing of liquid hydrocarbon fuels. We further evaluate alternative materials, e.g. doped ceria and perovskites, for improved redox performance.
Marxer D., Furler P., Scheffe J., Geerlings H., Falter C., Batteiger V., Sizmann A., Steinfeld A., “Demonstration of the entire production chain to renewable kerosene via solar thermochemical splitting of H2O and CO2”, Energy & Fuels 29, pp. 3241-3250, 2015.
Takacs M, Scheffe J.R., Steinfeld A., “Oxygen nonstoichiometry and thermodynamic characterization of Zr doped ceria in the 1573 – 1773 K temperature range”, Physical Chemistry Chemical Physics, Vol. 17, pp. 7813-7822, 2015.
Cooper T., Scheffe J.R., Galvez M.E., Jacot R., Patzke G., Steinfeld A., “Lanthanum Manganite Perovskites with Ca/Sr A-site and Al B-site Doping as Effective Oxygen Exchange Materials for Solar Thermochemical Fuel Production”, Energy Technology, Vol. 3, pp. 1130-1142, 2015.
Aldo Steinfeld (PhD University of Minnesota, 1989) is Professor at the Dept. of Mechanical and Process Engineering of ETH Zurich, where he holds the Chair of Renewable Energy Carriers. From 1995-2014, he directed the Solar Technology Laboratory at the Paul Scherrer Institute. At ETH Zurich, he served as the Head of the Institute of Energy Technology from 2005–2007 and Associate Head of the Department of Mechanical and Process Engineering from 2007–2009. He was the Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Solar Energy Engineering (2005–2009) and co-Editor of the CRC Handbook of Hydrogen Energy (2014), He has authored more than 300 papers in refereed journals, filed 28 patents, and supervised 35 PhD theses. His contributions to science and education have been recognized with the ASME Rice Award (2006), the Yellott Award (2008), the European Research Council Advanced Grant (2012), the ISES Farrington Daniels Award (2013), the ASME Heat Transfer Memorial Award (2013), and the ASME Kreith Energy Award (2016). Prof. Steinfeld is Fellow of American Society of Mechanical Engineers, and member of the Swiss Academy of Engineering Sciences and of the International Solar Energy Society’s Board of Directors.