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Manufacturing Supply Chain Development for the STARS Technology Modular Solar-Thermochemical Conversion Platform
This project is looking to address the primary challenge we see in the module manufacturing space – how we can significantly improve the Manufacturing Readiness Level (MRL) of a high Technical Readiness Level (TRL) technology to open the door for broad deployment. In particular, the team at PNNL and OSU is carrying out a cost/manufacturability study on the piloted STARS technology for solar steam methane reforming. The results of this study will define key economic break points in the production number of STARS process modules that point to “best” methods of mass manufacturing (such as additive manufacturing for production runs on the order of 100 -1000). Within each of these target methods, a cost analysis is carried out to determine where the largest cost drivers exist (e.g. raw material costs) and then modified production approaches are proposed to address these issues and move toward desired production cost targets.
Reducing equipment life-cycle cost
Establishing a supply chain for advanced materials and manufacturing techniques
The STARS technology offers a new and unique means for converting solar energy into chemical energy. The STARS technology is inherently modular and relies on process intensification to channel point source solar heat into an onboard reactor. Scale up of STARS technology is achieved by “numbering up” since each STARS unit is based on a single parabolic dish concentrator with integrated reactor for conversion of solar to chemical energy stored in synthetic gas or liquid fuels. This approach addresses a key constraint with centralized processing, where upfront capital can be prohibitive (hundreds of millions of dollars for gas-to-liquids systems and similar processes). Indeed, numbering up allows production to be expanded as demand grows without a large upfront capital expense. The key benefit to STARS from the proposed project is the reduction of equipment capital cost and establishing a supply chain for sourcing components, such that commercial adoption can be accelerated.
Project Approved: April, 2017
October 11, 2017