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Solar Thermochemical Water-Splitting Ferrite-Cycle Heat Engines

[+] Author Affiliations
Richard B. Diver, James E. Miller, Nathan P. Siegel, Roy E. Hogan

Sandia National Laboratories, Albuquerque, NM

Mark D. Allendorf

Sandia National Laboratories, Livermore, CA

Paper No. ISEC2006-99147, pp. 301-309; 9 pages
  • ASME 2006 International Solar Energy Conference
  • Solar Energy
  • Denver, Colorado, USA, July 8–13, 2006
  • Conference Sponsors: Solar Energy Division
  • ISBN: 0-7918-4745-4


Thermochemical cycles are a type of heat engine that utilize high-temperature heat to produce chemical work. Like their mechanical work-producing counterparts, their efficiency depends on operating temperature and on the irreversibilities of their internal processes. With this in mind, we have invented innovative design concepts for two-step solar-driven thermochemical heat engines based on iron oxide and iron oxide mixed with other metal oxides (ferrites). These concepts utilize two sets of moving beds of ferrite reactant material in close proximity and moving in opposite directions to overcome a major impediment to achieving high efficiency – thermal recuperation between solids in efficient counter-current arrangements. They also provide inherent separation of the product hydrogen and oxygen and are an excellent match with high-concentration solar flux. However, they also impose unique requirements on the ferrite reactants and materials of construction as well as an understanding of the chemical and cycle thermodynamics. In this paper, the Counter-Rotating-Ring Receiver/Reactor/Recuperator (CR5) solar thermochemical heat engine concept is introduced and its basic operating principals are described. Preliminary thermal efficiency estimates are presented and discussed. Our results and development approach are also outlined.



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