(243e) Solar Thermal Ethane Cracking
Concentrated solar thermal energy has the potential to provide process heat for chemical processing. To demonstrate the utility of concentrated solar, a directly-heated endothermic chemical processâethane crackingâwas carried out using simulated, concentrated sunlight. A miniaturized reactor suitable for the direct utilization of solar thermal energy for the purpose of ethane cracking was designed, built and tested. The effect of different process conditions (temperatures of 800 â 1000Â°C, steam-to-ethane ratios of 0 â 3.3, and mean residence times of 0.14 â 0.44s) on the system performance were investigated using a dilute mixture of ethane (3%) in nitrogen. Single-pass, ethane conversions as high as 69% were observed with high selectivity towards ethylene. This work demonstrates a new and promising approach to effective utilization of solar thermal energy for value added chemical production.