SOLAR FUELS & INDUSTRIAL PROCESSES AT HIGH-TEMPERATURE

Head: Alfonso Vidal Delgado
Alfonso.vidal@ciemat.es

Solar fuel production, mainly hydrogen, as well as integration of solar concentrating Technologies in industrial processes that need to adapt the process for integrating the solar contribution in the most endothermal stages, are the main goals of the Solar Fuels and Solarization of Industrial Processes Group. In the first case related to solar fuels, the greatest effort, without doubt, is concentrated on thermochemical production of hydrogen. The interested awakened by hydrogen as the energy vector in the transportation industry and the doubtless attraction that its clean production from solar energy, make it at the PSA the centre of attention, adapting high-temperature concentrating solar technologies to application to mass production of hydrogen. This activity falls under a European project (HYDROSOL-II) the PROFIT program (SOLTER-H), a project funded by the Madrid Regional Research program (PHISICO2) and a project with significant industrial support from the Venezuelan company Petróleos de Venezuela (SYNPET). These technology development projects are supplemented by active participation in forums and associations of major impact such as the SUSHYPRO initiative in collaboration with R&D centers in France, Germany and Italy, and another international network called THESIS sponsored by the International Partnership for the Hydrogen Economy (IPHE). Furthermore, the CIEMAT has begun procedures for joining the EU 7th Framework Program’s Joint Undertaking for Fuel Cells and Hydrogen. Application of solar concentrating technologies to industrial processes and certain high-temperature heat process is another field of enormous importance which the PSA is channeling through the SOLARPRO project, the purpose of which is, in cooperation with Spanish universities and research centers, demonstrate the technological feasibility of the use of solar thermal energy as a power supply system in industrial processes having high temperature as their common denominator.

Hydrogen production

Just as their European, American and Japanese counterparts, the CIEMAT, as a national energy research laboratory, is carrying out its own hydrogen technology program. Hydrogen production is part of this program, with impacting weight and goals. In spite of all the uncertainties and challenges posed by the so-called hydrogen economy, it is clear that public research promotional programs are providing more and more significant support to hydrogen. CIEMAT’s main goal in this field is research and development of efficient, competitive hydrogen production technologies leading to implantation of the hydrogen economy in the Spanish transportation and stationary consumption sectors, from native energy resources. The PSA is the main instrument for developing hydrogen production processes using the plentiful solar resources available in our country and the excellent knowledge of solar concentrating technologies applicable to reactors operating at temperatures over 1000ºC. The lines of activity are in two concrete fields of action:

  • Development of fossil-fuel decarbonization processes and technologies and their revaluation through solar gasification, with special attention to low-quality carbonaceous materials.
  • Demonstrate pre-commercial technical and economic feasibility through the use of thermochemical cycles with concentrated solar energy.

These R&D lines are supplemented by participation in international forums and working groups such IPHE and SUSHYPRO and also by feasibility studies and roadmaps like INNOHYP.