A Reactor Train System for Efficient Solar Thermochemical Fuel Production

Aniket S. Patankar, Xiao Yu Wu, Wonjae Choi, Harry L. Tuller, Ahmed F. Ghoniem

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Thermochemical redox cycles are a promising route to producing solar fuels. In this work, a novel reactor train system (RTS) is proposed for the efficient conversion of solar thermal energy into hydrogen. This system is capable of recovering thermal energy from redox materials, which is necessary for achieving high efficiency but has been difficult to realize in practice. The RTS overcomes technical challenges of high-temperature thermochemical reactors like solid conveying and sealing, while enabling continuous fuel production and efficient oxygen removal during metal oxide reduction. The RTS is comprised of several identical reactors arranged in a closed loop and cycling between reduction and oxidation steps. In between these steps, the reactors undergo solid heat recovery in a counter-flow radiative heat exchanger. The RTS can achieve heat recovery effectiveness of 80% for a train producing 100 kg-H2/day with a 60 min cycle time. The RTS can take advantage of thermal energy storage to operate round-the-clock. Further, it implements waste heat recovery to capture the exothermic heat of water-splitting. If all auxiliary energy demands can be satisfied with such waste heat, the RTS base configuration achieves 30% heat-to-hydrogen conversion efficiency, which is more than four times that of current state-of-the-art thermochemical systems.

Original languageEnglish
Article number061014
JournalJournal of Solar Energy Engineering, Transactions of the ASME
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 2022

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
Copyright © 2022 by ASME.


  • heat recovery
  • heat transfer
  • solar
  • solar fuels
  • solar reactor
  • thermochemical cycle
  • water splitting


Dive into the research topics of 'A Reactor Train System for Efficient Solar Thermochemical Fuel Production'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this