Elisa Alonso, Carlos Pérez-Rábago, Javier Licurgo, Alessandro Gallo, Edward Fuentealba, Claudio A. Estrada

Abstract

Solar reactors designed and constructed for thermochemical applications present different configurations and general performance. The selection of a solar reactor that optimizes a particular process is always a difficult challenge. This work studies two types of reactor configuration by means of a comparative experimental analysis. It was employed a solar device, which is able to operate as fixed reactor with packed bed samples and as rotary kiln. The reduction of CuO into Cu2O was tested under both operation modes, due to its proved potential and interest as thermochemical storage material. It was found that heat transfer was hindered in static experiments limiting the fraction of reactive sample. Thermal gradients of about 200 °C were found in the packed bed through thermocouple and IR camera measurement. Heating rates and total fed energy must be restricted at the risk of front of the sample to melt, resulting in several operation drawbacks. In contrast, mixing conditions in rotary kilns allowed for higher heating rates and led to homogenous sample temperature. Maximum reaction yields in stationary mode did not overpass 14% while it was achieved more than 80% in rotary mode at temperatures about 860 °C. Thermal efficiencies were very limited in both operation modes due to the high thermal inertia of the solar reactor. Because rotary mode admitted much more energy, its thermal efficiency was even lower than static. A solution to increase rotary kilns thermal efficiency is working in continuous mode.

Experimental aspects of CuO reduction in solar-driven reactors: Comparative performance of a rotary kiln and a packed-bed

Publicado en Revistas Arbitradas

Alonso, E., Gallo, A., Roldán, M.I., Pérez-Rábago, C.A., Fuentealba, E.

Abstract

Rotary kilns have a long history of use in classical industries. They are able to achieve high temperatures with higher thermal efficiencies than other reactor types. Their performance has been widely studied and classified according to different parameters. Since it is a well-known technology, rotary kilns have been selected for high temperature solar processes. This article initially presents a brief review of the rotary kiln technology and it focuses on the employment of these devices for thermal and thermochemical processes conducted by concentrating solar energy. Among the solar devices, a novel rotary kiln prototype for thermochemical processes is presented and compared with a static solar reactor. Finally, some practical conclusions on the design and operation of solar rotary kilns are remarked and an analysis of their main limitations is presented.

Use of rotary kilns for solar thermal applications: Review of developed studies and analysis of their potential

Publicado en Revistas Arbitradas

Valades-Pelayo P.J., Romero-Paredes H., Arancibia-Bulnes C.A., Villafán-Vidales H.I.

Abstract

In the present study, the optimization of a multi-tubular solar thermochemical cavity reactor is carried out. The reactor consists of a cubic cavity made of woven graphite, housing nine 2.54 cm diameter tungsten tubes. A heat transfer model is developed and implemented considering high-temperature radiative transfer at steady state. The temperature distribution on the receiver tubes is determined by using a hybrid Monte Carlo-finite volume approach. The optimization aims at maximizing average tube temperature by varying tube locations. Optimal tube distributions are explored by using a custom-made stochastic, multi-parameter, global optimization algorithm. A considerable increase in average temperature as well as improvement on temperature uniformity is found in the optimized tube arrays. Patterns among the different optimal distributions are found, and general features are discussed

Geometric optimization of a solar cubic-cavity multi-tubular thermochemical reactor using a Monte Carlo-finite element radiative transfer model

Publicado en Revistas Arbitradas
Domingo, 14 Junio 2015 14:09

Solar production of WO3: a green approach

H.I. Villafán-Vidales, A. Jiménez-González, A. Bautista-Orozco, C.A. Arancibia-Bulnes, C.A. Estrada.

Abstract

The tungsten trioxide (WO3) is a promising material with important technologic and scientific applications, due to its electrochromic, gasochromic and photochromic properties. Usually, this material is synthesized following several routes, for example, sputtering, chemical deposition, sol-gel, hydrothermal, among others. However, these methods are complicated, have long processing times and use several chemicals with the possibility of keeping undesirable impurities. In this context, concentrated solar energy is an interesting and feasible option to process materials at a low cost and without greenhouse gas emissions. In this work, a simple and green synthesis method of WO3 by using the Solar Furnace of the Renewable Energy Institute of the National University of Mexico is presented. Tungsten oxide powder is obtained by means of tungsten electrodes in a high-temperature solar reaction chamber designed to work with concentrated solar energy under controlled conditions of the gas atmosphere. The oxidation reaction was carried out for three different temperatures: 600°C, 800°C and 1000°C, and for each temperature three different oxygen molar fractions were studied: 0.33, 0.41 and 1. Some results indicate the oxygen molar fraction does not affect the phase transformation and the WO3 triclinic was the most stable phase, appearing in all the temperature ranges and concentrations. The synthesis reported in this paper is presented as a green alternative in the development of processes for the synthesis of WO3, which promote renewable energy sources with very low greenhouse gas emissions and without toxic residuals.

Solar production of WO3: a green approach

Publicado en Revistas Arbitradas

H.I. Villafán-Vidales, S. Abanades, M. Montiel-González, H. Romero-Paredes, C.A. Arancibia-Bulnes, C.A. Estrada.

Abstract

A 1 kWth cavity-type solar reactor devoted to the thermal reduction of volatile oxides as part of a two-step thermochemical cycle is analyzed numerically. The thermochemical reactor consists of a vertical-axis cavity-type receiver in which the reactant is injected from the bottom in the form of an ascending rod made of a stack of zinc oxide compressed pellets undergoing thermal dissociation. A transient heat transfer model allows the simulation of the thermal behavior under real conditions for the rod of reacting particles exposed to concentrated solar radiation. The developed numerical model couples radiation, conduction and convection heat transfers to the kinetic of the reaction. The incident solar irradiation on the reactant surface is obtained using the Monte-Carlo ray tracing technique applied first to the solar concentrator and second to the reactor cavity. The model is used to predict the temperature profile from the irradiated front surface of the compressed reactant, the evolution of outlet oxygen molar flow-rate during the reduction reaction and the instantaneous thermochemical efficiency, as a function of time. The calculated results are compared with the experimentally obtained data. The agreement between experimental data and simulation related to both the temperature and the oxygen progress is fairly good with Ea = 380 kJ mol−1 and k0 = 246 × 106 mol m−2 s−1 for the kinetics of the ZnO dissociation reaction.

Transient heat transfer simulation of a 1 kWth moving front solar thermochemical reactor for thermal dissociation of compressed ZnO

Publicado en Revistas Arbitradas

H.I. Villafán-Vidales,C.A. Arancibia-Bulnes, S. Abanades, D. Riveros-Rosas, H. Romero-Paredes

Abstract

A directly irradiated cavity solar reactor devoted to the thermal reduction of SnO2 particle-cloud is studied numerically by using the Monte Carlo method. The steady-state model solves the radiation and convection heat transfers in the semitransparent particle suspension and the chemical reaction. It was used to predict the temperature distribution and the reaction extent inside the cavity, as well as the theoretical thermochemical efficiency for different operational conditions. The simulations assume that the reactor contains a nonuniform size suspension of radiatively participating reacting SnO2 particles. The model takes into account the radiative characteristics of the particles, as well as the directional characteristics of the power distribution of the incoming concentrated solar energy. The particle concentration, the particle size, and the length of the reactor are varied. Results show that the particle temperature and the yield of the endothermic reaction are higher when the reactor is fed with a cloud of particles with average diameter of 20 μm. The maximal thermochemical efficiency reached is 10%, which corresponds to an optimal optical thickness of around 2.

Monte Carlo Heat Transfer Modeling of a Particle-Cloud Solar Reactor for SnO2Thermal Reduction

Publicado en Revistas Arbitradas

S. L. Orozco, H. I. Villafán-Vidales, C. A. Arancibia-Bulnes

Abstract

Radiative transfer inside a slurry photocatalytic reactor with hybrid illumination from both solar radiation and lamps is examined. The local volumetric rate of photon absorption is evaluated. For this purpose, the P1 and the modified differential approximations (MDAs) are used, and results compared to a solution by the Monte Carlo method. It is found that significant differences may arise between the predictions of the above approximations and the exact results provided by the Monte Carlo simulations. The P1 approximation is very inaccurate near to the radiation entrance for the partially collimated solar radiation, although it improves, as optical depth increases. As expected, the MDA improves the results near to the boundary. Surprisingly, it turns out to be much worse than the P1 approximation at medium and large optical depths. In the case of lamp irradiation, the behavior of the MDA is the opposite; it works better at small optical depths.

Photon Absorption in a Hybrid Slurry Photocatalytic Reactor: Assessment of Differential Approximations

Publicado en Revistas Arbitradas

H.I., Villafán-Vidales, Abanades, S., Arancibia-Bulnes, C.A., Riveros-Rosas, D., Romero-Paredes, H., Espinosa-Paredes, G., Estrada, C.A.

Abstract

Radiative heat transfer in a 1 kW cavity-type solar reactor devoted to the thermal reduction of compressed ZnO and SnO2 powders is analyzed by a Monte Carlo ray tracing simulation. The developed model takes into account the radiative properties of the reactant particles and of the ceramic cavity walls, as well as the angular intensity distribution of the incoming concentrated solar irradiation. The model also includes the conduction heat losses through the lateral walls and the energy consumed by the endothermic chemical reaction. It is used to predict the temperature and the absorbed flux density profiles on the inner cavity walls for different main features of the reactor, concerning the dimensions of the cavity and the type of reactant. Results show that the absorbed flux density profile and the theoretical thermochemical efficiency change with the cavity aspect ratio and with the oxide reactant. The cavity with an aspect ratio of 3 and a SnO2 pellet undergoing dissociation presents the highest thermochemical efficiency. Additionally, a different configuration of the reactor design is considered, which consists in implementing a layer of reactive particles on the inner lateral cavity wall. The model highlights that this type of reactor operation with a reactant layer on the lateral cavity wall results in an improved thermochemical efficiency.

Radiative heat transfer analysis of a directly irradiated cavity-type solar thermochemical reactor by Monte-Carlo ray tracing

Publicado en Revistas Arbitradas

Elisa Alonso, Carlos Pérez-Rábago, Javier Licurgo, Edward Fuentealba, Claudio A. Estrada.

Abstract

Thermochemical redox processes are currently considered one of the most promising methods for thermal storage of solar energy. Among the different types of materials available for this purpose, metal oxides allow higher operation temperatures in CSP systems. This is in agreement with the new R&D trends that focus on increasing the temperature to augment the efficiency. Copper oxide was previously proposed as a valid metal oxide for thermochemical storage. However, no demonstrative experiments had been carried out so far under solar radiation. In this work, the suitability of copper oxide was proved in a solar furnace. The employed solar reactor was a rotary kiln device with direct radiation absorption on reactive particles, which is a configuration that guarantees higher operation temperatures than other types of solar reactors. Given results include the performance of the CuO reduction in the rotary kiln under argon atmosphere and the cyclability of the pair CuO/Cu2O in air.

First experimental studies of solar redox reactions of copper oxides for thermochemical energy storage

Publicado en Revistas Arbitradas

L.G. Ceballos-Mendivil, R.E. Cabanillas-López, J.C. Tánori-Córdova, R. Murrieta-Yescas, C.A. Pérez-Rábago, H.I. Villafán-Vidales, C.A. Arancibia-Bulnes, C.A. Estrada.

Abstract

Silicon carbide (SiC) has been prepared successfully using concentrated solar energy provided by the IER-UNAM solar furnace. This has led to the development of a low CO2 emissions process for the production of this material via carbothermic reduction of a silica/carbon (SiO2/C) nanocomposite, which has shown a more reactive carbon for formation of composite, being more thermally stable. Silica (obtained by a sol–gel process) and sucrose were used as precursors of silicon and carbon, respectively, at a temperature of 700 °C in controlled atmosphere (nitrogen) for the formation of the SiO2/C composite. This composite was used in a second step to obtain SiC at a temperature of 1500 °C, in argon atmosphere. The experimental setup used a Pyrex® glass spherical vessel designed to work with concentrated solar power and controlled atmospheres. The structure and morphology of the solar obtained SiC were analyzed with FTIR, XRD, TGA/DSC, SEM and TEM techniques. Results show that it is feasible to use concentrated solar energy for the synthesis of SiC. The solar SiC obtained is nanostructured and is mainly β-SiC.

Synthesis of silicon carbide using concentrated solar energy

Publicado en Revistas Arbitradas

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