The challenges and opportunities for integration of solar syngas production with liquid fuel synthesis

James T. Hinkley, Robbie K. McNaughton, John Pye, Woei Saw, Ellen B. Stechel

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

4 Scopus citations

Abstract

Reforming of methane is practiced on a vast scale globally for the production of syngas as a precursor for the production of many commodities, including hydrogen, ammonia and synthetic liquid fuels. Solar reforming can reduce the greenhouse gas intensity of syngas production by up to about 40% by using solar thermal energy to provide the endothermic heat of reaction, traditionally supplied by combustion of some of the feed. This has the potential to enable the production of solar derived synthetic fuels as drop in replacements for conventional fuels with significantly lower CO2 intensity than conventional gas to liquids (GTL) processes. However, the intermittent nature of the solar resource - both diurnal and seasonal - poses significant challenges for such a concept, which relies on synthesis processes that typically run continuously on very stable feed compositions. We find that the integration of solar syngas production to a GTL process is a non-trivial exercise, with the ability to turn down the capacity of the GTL synthesis section, and indeed to suspend operations for short periods without significant detriment to product quality or process operability, likely to be a key driver for the commercial implementation of solar liquid fuels. Projected costs for liquid fuel synthesis suggest that solar reforming and small scale gas to liquid synthesis can potentially compete with conventional oil derived transport fuels in the short to medium term.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationSolarPACES 2015
Subtitle of host publicationInternational Conference on Concentrating Solar Power and Chemical Energy Systems
EditorsVikesh Rajpaul, Christoph Richter
PublisherAmerican Institute of Physics Inc.
ISBN (Electronic)9780735413863
DOIs
StatePublished - May 31 2016
Event21st International Conference on Concentrating Solar Power and Chemical Energy Systems, SolarPACES 2015 - Cape Town, South Africa
Duration: Oct 13 2015Oct 16 2015

Publication series

NameAIP Conference Proceedings
Volume1734
ISSN (Print)0094-243X
ISSN (Electronic)1551-7616

Other

Other21st International Conference on Concentrating Solar Power and Chemical Energy Systems, SolarPACES 2015
CountrySouth Africa
CityCape Town
Period10/13/1510/16/15

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physics and Astronomy(all)

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    Hinkley, J. T., McNaughton, R. K., Pye, J., Saw, W., & Stechel, E. B. (2016). The challenges and opportunities for integration of solar syngas production with liquid fuel synthesis. In V. Rajpaul, & C. Richter (Eds.), SolarPACES 2015: International Conference on Concentrating Solar Power and Chemical Energy Systems [120003] (AIP Conference Proceedings; Vol. 1734). American Institute of Physics Inc.. https://doi.org/10.1063/1.4949205