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Solar Hydrogen Production via a Samarium Oxide-Based Thermochemical Water Splitting Cycle


The computational thermodynamic analysis of a samarium oxide-based two-step solar thermochemical water splitting cycle is reported. The analysis is performed using HSC chemistry software and databases. The first (solar-based) step drives the thermal reduction of Sm2O3 into Sm and O2. The second (non-solar) step corresponds to the production of H2 via a water splitting reaction and the oxidation of Sm to Sm2O3. The equilibrium thermodynamic compositions related to the thermal reduction and water splitting steps are determined. The effect of oxygen partial pressure in the inert flushing gas on the thermal reduction temperature (TH) is examined. An analysis based on the second law of thermodynamics is performed to determine the cycle efficiency (ηcycle) and solar-to-fuel energy conversion efficiency (ηsolar´to´fuel) attainable with and without heat recuperation. The results indicate that ηcycle and ηsolar´to´fuel both increase with decreasing TH, due to the reduction in oxygen partial pressure in the inert flushing gas. Furthermore, the recuperation of heat for the operation of the cycle significantly improves the solar reactor efficiency. For instance, in the case where TH = 2280 K, ηcycle = 24.4% and ηsolar´to´fuel = 29.5% (without heat recuperation), while ηcycle = 31.3% and ηsolar´to´fuel = 37.8% (with 40% heat recuperation).

Funding source: This publication was made possible by the NPRP grant (NPRP8-370-2-154) and UREP grant (UREP18-146-2-060) from the Qatar National Research Fund (a member of Qatar Foundation).
Related subjects: Production & Supply Chain
Countries: Canada ; Qatar ; United States

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