The impending shortage of fossil fuels and environmental consequences of fossil fuel consumption are two of the most imperative problems in the world. This presentation is about a novel design of a solar reactor cavity system composed of a camera-like aperture and moving-wall system to house a unique thermo-fluid-chemical process known as ‘solar cracking’.

Differing from typical solar powered Rankine cycles, solar cracking uses concentrated solar energy as a heat source for direct decomposition of natural gas into gaseous H and particulate carbon. This process offers a CO emission free hydrogen production method, as the carbon is collected in a high-grade and/or nanotube form. However, solar cracking reactors have two implicit major problems:

The intrinsic losses in energy conversion efficiency as a result of the high internal temperatures and corresponding re-radiation losses as well as the inherently transient nature of the solar energy. Literature on solar reactors reveals a distinct focus on optimal reactor design for steady state efficiency, but little regarding transient inefficiencies. This presentation provides an advanced perception to solar cracking reactors by presenting you the latest results of our research at Sustainable Energy Research Lab on the design of a ‘smart solar reactor’ that is sensitive to variations in solar flux, and can adjust itself accordingly to maintain quasi-equilibrium internal conditions. A unique system design is presented featuring a solar-flux intensity sensitive aperture that can enlarge the aperture diameter when the flux is low and reduce the diameter when the flux is high.

Carbon particle deposition on the reactor window, walls, and at the exit. Carbon deposition. particularly at the exit, causes reactor clogging. There have been many innovative reactor designs aimed to achieve increased conversion efficiencies through novel flows developed at ETH-Zurich, CNRS-France, WIS-Israel, Colorado-USA, Florida-USA, and DLR-Germany. From vortex-flow to tornado, and from fluidized bed to rotating cavity, the designs of these reactors have moved toward the goal of seeking enhanced flow conditions that result in improved overall efficiencies, but have not solved the carbon deposition problem. Our latest research results at Sustainable Energy Research Lab shows that our ‘aero-shielded cyclone solar reactor’ concept provides a laminar flow shield covering the walls as a thin layer flow with a velocity that is strong enough to sweep carbon particles away. This presentation will show you the results of our research on this concept with a 3D animation of the reactor.


Article metrics loading...

Loading full text...

Full text loading...


  1. N. Ozalp, Smart solar reactor for co-production of hydrogen and industrial grade carbon under any weather conditions, QFARF Proceedings, 2010, EEO6.
    [Google Scholar]
This is a required field
Please enter a valid email address
Approval was a Success
Invalid data
An Error Occurred
Approval was partially successful, following selected items could not be processed due to error