Solar energy for chemical industry: Indirectly solar heated reformer for the production of methanol from CO2 and natural gas
Reforming of methane gas is a flexible and effective option for chemical storage of solar energy in an established industrial process: By utilizing solar thermal energy at temperatures between 700°C and 1000°C, the heating value of the gas can be increased by 26-31%. CO2 from energy intensive processes can be used as reactant and thereby reused to a large extent. Concentrated solar power, as it is used in solar power towers, is suitable to provide the heat to this process efficiently.
The product of the reforming process, syngas is a universal intermediate product in the production of a variety of commodities, such as synthetic fuels, fertilizers or plastics. Furthermore it can be converted into methanol, which is an easily and cheaply storable and transportable substance. As a universal base chemical as well as flexible fuel, its global demand is strongly increasing annually. Within the project INDIREF, a technology for indirectly heated solar reforming is developed to promote the market entry of the technology. The focus is put on the development and improvement of the core components, especially the solar reforming reactor.
The central aims are the development of a suitable, if possible continuous, operating strategy, to achieve the required efficiency and durability of the main components and as a result, profitability of the process. The technology that tis required to achieve these aims is validated through field tests in the high flux solar simulator at the DLR in Cologne. Within INDIREF, a promising development in the aim of achieving a significant reduction of CO2 emissions in large parts of the chemical industry on the one hand and to allow for a further penetration of renewable energy technologies into the energy mix on the other hand will be supported.
Solar Institut Jülich (SIJ) der FH Aachen
Hille & Müller (Associated Partner)
European Regional Develoopment Fund within the framework of the "Leitmarktwettbewerb Energie & Umweltwirtschaft.NRW"