Solar Energy Laboratory

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Ceria-based oxide substrates to split H2O and CO2


The Solar Energy Laboratory is studying the strategies to incorporate the new materials in a solar reactor. One approach is to utilize thin-walled ceria micro-structures developed by Prof. Andreas Stein which have low tortuosity, high porosity, and high surface area. Professor Davidson and her students are evaluating the structures for their ability to serve as both radiation absorber and reaction substrate. Heat and mass transfer characteristics are determined by employing experimental and numerical techniques, and used for optimization of the structure architecture (pore size, wall thickness, etc.) with trade-offs with respect to gas flow rates, chemical reaction rates, radiation absorption, and mechanical robustness. The optimized structures will be incorporated in a prototype two-step solar thermochemical reactor developed in our laboratory.



Fig. 1. Ceria-based porous structures as candidate architectures for the two-step partial redox cycles: (left) a random micro-structure with nearly uniform grain size developed at the California Institute of Technology, and (right) a high-porosity three-dimensionally ordered nano-structure developed at the University of Minnesota.