VU Physics and Astronomy Colloquium

Friday, November 14, 2008. Join us in NSC 231 at 3:05 for refreshments. Talk starts at 3:20 in NSC 224.

"The Solar Thermal Electrolysis Project (STEP) : A Progress Report"

Prof. Robert Palumbo, Dept. of Mechanical Engineering, Valparaiso University

During the past two years, faculty and students of Valparaiso University’s Mechanical and Electrical Engineering Departments have been investigating the industrial potential of using concentrated sunlight as process heat for the electrolytic production of Zn from ZnO at temperatures from 1200-1800 K. Through fundamental thermodynamic and electrolysis transport phenomena studies, we hope to develop a deeper understanding of how reactor design, reactor materials, and operating variables influence the performance of the process. With this insight, we will develop a numerical model so that we can use experimental results from a 10 kW solar reactor to estimate the performance of a 0.5 MW reactor.

In this presentation, I develop the motivation for the project and report on its current status. With respect to motivation, you will learn how STEP addresses environmental and energy concerns as well as see its relationship to the international research effort in the domain of solar thermal chemistry. With respect to project status, you will learn of our latest findings.