Technical Briefs

Towards the Industrial Solar Carbothermal Production of Zinc

[+] Author and Article Information
Michael Epstein

Solar Research Unit, The Weizmann Institute of Science, IL-76100 Rehovot, Israel

Gabriel Olalde

 PROMES-CNRS, Odeillo, F-66125 Font-Romeu, France

Sven Santén

 ScanArc Plasma Technologies AB, S-81321 Hofors, Sweden

Aldo Steinfeld

Department of Mechanical and Process Engineering, ETH Zurich, CH-8092 Zurich, Switzerland

Christian Wieckert1

Solar Technology Laboratory, Paul Scherrer Institute, CH-5232 Villigen, Switzerlandchristian.wieckert@psi.ch


Corresponding author.

J. Sol. Energy Eng 130(1), 014505 (Jan 07, 2008) (4 pages) doi:10.1115/1.2807214 History: Received February 23, 2007; Revised June 09, 2007; Published January 07, 2008

Based on the experimental results of a 300kW solar chemical pilot plant for the production of zinc by carbothermal reduction of ZnO, we performed a conceptual design of a 5MW demonstration plant and of a 30MW commercial plant. Zinc can be used as a fuel for zinc-air batteries and fuel cells, or it can be reacted with water to form high-purity hydrogen. In either case, the chemical product is ZnO, which in turn is solar recycled to zinc. The proposed thermochemical process provides an energy efficient route for the conversion, storage, and transportation of solar energy in the form of solar fuels.

Copyright © 2008 by American Society of Mechanical Engineers
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Figure 1

Optical path of the beam-down solar tower concentrating system (Cassegrain optical configuration), featuring a heliostat field, a tower hyperbolic reflector, and an array of CPCs

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Figure 2

Arrangement of the array of seven hexagonal CPC units

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Figure 3

Heliostat field layout of a 5MW north-field solar plant with 186 heliostats (10,063m2) for a 70m height aim point and a 30MW surrounding-field solar plant with 1144 heliostats (61,876m2) for a 140m height aim point

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Figure 4

Conceptual design of a 5MW solar reactor featuring seven apertures matching the exits of the CPCs, one common upper cavity serving as the absorber of concentrated solar radiation, and one common lower cavity serving as the reaction chamber



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