A comprehensive solar-to-hydrogen (STH) efficiency model, which includes the effect of oxidation kinetics, is developed for two-step solar thermochemical redox water splitting processing. Active materials flow through separate reduction and oxidation reactors. Two active redox materials are considered and compared in order to assess the impact of the rate of redox and the hydrogen productivity per cycle on STH efficiency. Reported oxidation rates for reduced cerium oxide (fast kinetics/lower H2 productivity/cycle) and a ferrite/zirconia composite (slow kinetics/higher H2 productivity/cycle) are used in the model in order to make a realistic comparison. Generally, the efficiency at thermodynamic equilibrium is higher for the ferrite/zirconia composite than ceria. Interactions between material specific parameters are compared, such as the combination of heat capacity and flow rate on sensible heating loads. Additionally, the sensitivity of oxidation kinetics on the overall cycle efficiency is illustrated. Model results show that kinetics can have a drastic effect on STH efficiency. Near-isothermal redox processing is more optimal for materials with slower kinetics, especially when moderate to high gas heat recuperation is possible. The kinetic effects are negligible for active materials having fast oxidation rates, i.e. ceria, which benefit from a larger temperature difference (thermodynamic driving force) between the reduction and oxidation steps. This leads to different optimal operating conditions when oxidation kinetics are included in the analysis as compared to prior models when only thermodynamic equilibrium is considered.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
- Fuel Technology
- Condensed Matter Physics
- Energy Engineering and Power Technology