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Research Papers

Methane Decarbonization in Indirect Heating Solar Reactors of 20 and 50 kW for a CO2 -Free Production of Hydrogen and Carbon Black

[+] Author and Article Information
Sylvain Rodat

Stéphane Abanades1

Gilles Flamant

Processes, Materials, and Solar Energy Laboratory, PROMES-CNRS, 7 Rue du Four Solaire, 66120 Font-Romeu, France

1

Corresponding author.

J. Sol. Energy Eng 133(3), 031001 (Jul 19, 2011) (7 pages) doi:10.1115/1.4004238 History: Received December 14, 2010; Revised April 15, 2011; Published July 19, 2011; Online July 19, 2011

Solar methane decarbonization is an attractive pathway for a transition toward an hydrogen-based economy. In the frame of the European SOLHYCARB project, it was proposed to investigate this solar process extensively. At CNRS-PROMES, two indirect heating solar reactors (20 and 50 kW) were designed, built, and tested for methane decarbonization. They consist of graphite cavity-type receivers approaching the blackbody behavior. The CH4 dissociation reaction was carried out in tubular sections inserted in the solar absorber receiving concentrated solar irradiation. The 20 kW solar reactor (SR20) was especially suitable to study the chemical reaction and methane conversion performances depending on the experimental conditions (mainly temperature and residence time). The 50 kW solar reactor (SR50) was operated to produce significant amounts of carbon black for determining its properties and quality in the various possible commercial applications. The main encountered problem was the particle evacuation. Solutions were proposed for large-scale industrial applications. A process analysis was achieved for a 14.6 MW solar chemical plant on the basis of a process flow-sheet. A production of 436 kg/h of hydrogen and 1300 kg/h of carbon black could be obtained for 1737 kg/h of methane consumed, with an hydrogen cost competitive to conventional methane reforming. This paper summarizes the main results and conclusions of the project.

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Copyright © 2011 by American Society of Mechanical Engineers
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Figures

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Figure 1

Scheme of the 20 kW solar reactor

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Figure 2

Scheme of the 50 kW solar reactor

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Figure 3

CH4 conversion and C2 H2 off-gas mole fraction for various temperatures and residence times

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Figure 4

Online monitoring of temperatures, DNI, H2 , C2 H2 , and CH4 off-gas mole fractions

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Figure 5

Specific surface area of the carbon black particles for various experimental conditions (courtesy of TIMCAL, Belgium)

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Figure 6

TEM image of a carbon black sample obtained at 1928 K (courtesy of APTL, Greece)

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Figure 7

Process flow-sheet for solar-thermal dissociation of methane

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Figure 8

Influence of the preheating temperature on the production of hydrogen and carbon black

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Figure 9

Influence of the H2 dilution on the production of hydrogen and carbon black

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Figure 10

H2 production cost as a function of the carbon black selling price

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