ANU researchers are confident in the possibilities provided by exciting new research into solar thermochemical reactions. This research could enable more efficient round-the-clock renewable energy generation, carbon neutral recycled synthetic fuels, and more environmentally friendly minerals processing.
Professor Wojciech Lipinski is leading a team which is building a new type of Solar Reactor which will be ready for testing early 2018.
The reactor will use cheap metal oxides that undergo a solar thermochemical reduction to store thermal energy. The energy can be released at a later stage to produce energy on demand.
Similar to the process involved in power generation, Professor Lipinski’s team is investigating using concentrated solar energy to cause chemical reactions in algae, plastics, and carbon dioxide and ultimately convert them into petrol and kerosene. The end goal is to produce fuel from carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.
Professor Lipinski says, "You can leave the coal and mineral oil in the ground and you won’t increase the amount of carbon in the atmosphere any more".
Concentrated solar energy could also have applications in the mining industry potentially displacing traditional methods of ore processing which produce greenhouse gases and are highly energy intensive. There are huge benefits for Australian industry not only in efficiencies in production and transportation but also in developing better more marketable products.
Professor Wojciech Lipinski is supported by an ARENA grant worth $1.19 million.
For more information about the ANU Solar Thermal Group see stg.anu.edu.au
Original story by Simon Mitchell, Arena Wire, https://arena.gov.au/blog/anu/