Although concentrated solar energy has enormous potential for use as process heat to drive chemical reactions , the thermal efficiency of converting solar energy to chemical fuels must increase by an order of magnitude to become commercially viable. At the University of Florida , a solar thermochemical reactor with potential for high efficiency has been designed and constructed for the purpose of thermochemical water splitting over iron oxide based materials. A 42 kWe solar simulator was used to irradiate up to 10kW of thermal energy through a windowless aperture. Preliminary testing has been carried out to cavity temperatures exceeding 1600°C. Experimentally determined temperature distributions and solar-to-chemical energy conversion efficiencies will be presented. Practical considerations including materials of construction , insulation and sealing strategies will also be discussed.
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