Non-concentrated solar collector for solarthermal chemical reactions

Conference Paper

The purpose of this study is the proof that nonconcentrating solar-thermal collectors can supply the thermal energy needed to power endothermic chemical reactions such as steam reforming of alcoholic (bio-) fuels. Traditional steam reformers require the combustion of up to 50% of the primary fuel to enable the endothermic reforming reaction. Our goal is to use a selective solar absorber coating on top of a collectorreactor surrounded by vacuum insulation. For methanol reforming, a reaction temperature of 220-250°C is required for effective methanol-to-hydrogen conversion. A multilayer absorber coating (TiNOX) is used, as well as a turbomolecular pump to reach ultra-high. The collector-reactor is made of copper tubes and plates and a Cu/ZnO/Al 2O3 catalyst is integrated in a porous ceramic structure towards the end of the reactor tube. The device is tested under 1000 W/m 2 solar irradiation (using an ABB class solar simulator, air mass 1.5). Numerical and experimental results show that convective and conductive heat losses are eliminated at vacuum pressures of <10-4 Torr. By reducing radiative losses through chemical polishing of the non-Absorbing surfaces, the methanol-water mixture can be effectively heated to 240-250°C and converted to hydrogen-rich gas mixture. For liquid methanol-water inlet flow rates up to 1 ml/min per m2 of solar collector area can be converted to hydrogen with a methanol conversion rate above 90%. This study will present the design and fabrication of the solar collector-reactor, its testing and optimization, and its integration into an entire hydrogen-fed Polymer Electrolyte Membrane fuel cell system. Copyright © 2013 by ASME.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Hotz, N

Published Date

  • January 1, 2013

Published In

  • Asme International Mechanical Engineering Congress and Exposition, Proceedings (Imece)

Volume / Issue

  • 6 A /

International Standard Book Number 13 (ISBN-13)

  • 9780791856284

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1115/IMECE2013-65433

Citation Source

  • Scopus