(297d) A Simple, Indirectly-Irradiated, Windowless Reactor for Solar Thermochemical Water Splitting
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.