Jul
7

Solar Chemical Technology

Reducing the need for Fossil Fuels by using Solar Power in more ways


Solar chemical processes use the sun's power to create chemical changes. These processes help to eliminate the dependency on other fuel or energy sources by using the sun to create a storable and transportable fuel.

Solar chemical processes are varied, but can be classified into two categories: Thermochemical and photochemical.

Hydrogen production has been a big push since the 1970's. Besides electrolysis, created by photovoltaic and photochemical processes, thermochemical has been looked at as an option, too. The most direct thing to do is to split water at high temperatures (between 2300-2600 degrees C) But, the efficiency rate of solar-to-hydrogen has only been 1-2%. A better way to do this is to use solar concentration to drive steam reformation of natural gas to be used to split the water. This way they get a better hydrogen yield.

Thermochemical reactions of decomposition and regeneration of the reactants is also presenting itself in this technology. There is a process known as the Solzinc process that is being studied. This process uses a solar furnace to heat up (to + 1200 degrees C) and decompose zinc oxide. This reaction produces pure zinc that can be mixed with water to produce hydrogen.

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