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A main research topic at the Institute of Solar Research is the production of solar fuels. Recently, the full production path of solar kerosene was demonstrated for the first time on an actual solar tower. In the first step of a two-step batch process a metal oxide is reduced at temperatures above 1400°C and oxygen is released, as it is shown in figure 1. The oxygen is purged by nitrogen, which flows through the honeycomb or foam-shaped redox material.
In the second step of the process, the reduced metal oxide is oxidized by steam (H2O) and hydrogen (H2) is released. This happens at lower temperatures of about 900°C. The necessary energy for both steps of the cycle is provided by solar radiation, which is concentrated by a heliostat field (figure 2). Performing the oxidation with a mixture of H2O and CO2 instead of pure H2O allows the direct production of synthesis gas, which can be further processed to fuels like kerosene via a Fischer-Tropsch synthesis. So far the production of syngas has been demonstrated in a 1MW scale. For a larger scale of 10MW-100MW multiple reactor chambers should be employed, as it is depicted in figure 2. The heliostat field has to aim the solar radiation at these chambers.
In the thesis the output of such a larger scale plant should be optimized. This comprises the way how the heliostat field should distribute the incoming solar radiation to the chambers and how each chamber should be operated to obtain maximum fuel output.
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Institute of Solar Research
Phone: +49 2203 6014-416