3DPrinting.com reports on an increase in solar fuel production through the use of ceramic reactor cores, which are manufactured with 3D printing technology.


In a groundbreaking development, researchers at ETH Zurich have utilized an innovative 3D printing technique to create intricate ceramic structures for solar reactors. These specially designed structures have the potential to significantly enhance the efficiency of solar fuel production.

The solar reactor plays a central role in this process, reaching temperatures as high as 1500°C, which are achieved through concentrated sunlight. Within the reactor, a thermochemical cycle takes place, breaking down water and CO2 to produce syngas, a combination of hydrogen and carbon monoxide. This syngas can then be converted into carbon-neutral liquid fuels such as solar kerosene, which can be used in aviation.

Previously, the reactor used isotropic porosity structures. However, these designs had a major drawback – they caused the incoming solar radiation to diminish exponentially. As a result, the internal temperatures of the reactor decreased, leading to a lower yield of solar fuel. This limitation prompted researchers to develop a new structure that could optimize the absorption of concentrated solar radiation.

The newly developed structures feature channels and pores that gradually narrow towards the rear of the reactor. This design ensures that the entire porous structure reaches the critical reaction temperature of 1500°C, thereby boosting fuel production. The manufacturing process involves an extrusion-based 3D printing method, utilizing a specially formulated ink containing ceria particles.

Tests conducted on these advanced structures have revealed promising results. They were found to produce double the amount of fuel compared to traditional designs under the same amount of solar radiation. This remarkable outcome has led to the patenting of the technology, which has since been licensed to Synhelion by ETH Zurich. This development highlights the potential of the 3D printing technique to enhance the energy efficiency of solar reactors.

The research conducted by ETH Zurich has been published in a paper titled “Solar-driven redox splitting of CO2 using 3D-printed hierarchically channeled ceria structures” in the Advanced Materials Interfaces journal. Those interested can access the full paper through this link.

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Original source


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