What is it?
Concentrated sunlight is used to heat up transition metal oxides (e.g. cerium oxide), releasing oxygen. The metal oxides are then reacted with water, which splits to re-oxidise the metal oxide as well as produce hydrogen – the cycle then repeats.
Why is it important?
This process produces hydrogen using only water and sunlight and has the potential to be low-cost due to system simplicity.
- Inputs: Water and sunlight
- By-products: Oxygen
- Operating temperature: ~900 to 1,500°C
- Energy efficiency: Theoretical greater than 30%. Demonstrated approximately 5%
- Less complex and fewer steps than hybrid thermochemical water splitting
- Does not require an electrolysis step (therefore no electricity input)
- Zero CO2 emissions
- Make use of concentrated sunlight as heat source
- Requires very high operating temperatures
- Dependent on solar irradiation
- Improve concentrated solar thermal technologies
- Improve thermal efficiency
- Improve long-term stability of reactor materials
- Conduct fundamental material investigations (e.g. understand mechanism of material melting and sticking)
- Develop overall large-scale system concepts
Known active organisations
- The Australian National University
- Flinders University
- The University of Adelaide
- The University of New South Wales