(89c) Manufacturing Supply Chain Development for Solar Thermochemical Modules
AIChE Annual Meeting
Monday, October 30, 2017 - 9:00am to 9:20am
Solar thermochemical modules have been demonstrated with high solar-to-chemical conversion efficiencies for producing syngas via steam methane reforming (SMR). Reaction systems consisting of SMR reactors, heat exchangers, and other potential unit operations are located at the focal point of parabolic solar concentrators to directly convert solar heat to chemical energy. Thus, these inherently modular systems benefit from process intensification technologies, such as microchannel heat exchangers, to reduce system size and weight. Commercialization of this technology is facilitated by reducing equipment costs and establishing manufacturing supply chains, a suitable role for the Modular Manufacturing Focus Area of the RAPID Institute. Process-based cost models for manufacturing components have enabled analyses of alternative manufacturing processes, established the importance of reducing material costs, and incentivized alternative designs. Additive manufacturing methods are being pursued as an alternative for fabricating reactors and heat exchangers. Two initiatives are described for reducing material costs. In the first, efforts are focused on the development of new powder bed fusion techniques capable of producing lower cost refractory alloys compared to Ni-based superalloys. Preliminary results will demonstrate progress toward producing lower cost refractory alloys from less expensive base powder. In the second initiative, high material utilization forming methods are being developed for producing lower-cost high efficiency, compact heat exchangers. The paper will focus on cost modelling methods and tools and how they are being used to direct research efforts toward lowering equipment costs.