UMN Solar Energy Laboratory
The Solar Energy Laboratory at the University of Minnesota specializes in development of solar technologies for a wide range of applications including high-temperature cycles that utilize concentrated solar radiation for fuel and power production, and low-temperature distributed solar systems for space heating, cooling and hot water. The three pathways to solar fuels examined in this laboratory are: the solar thermal gasification of biomass, in which carbonaceous materials such as coal, organic waste, or biomass are converted to either H2 or CO with the use of H2O or CO2 as the gasifying agent, respectively; the solar thermal oxidation-reduction cycle of CeO2, in which the metal is thermally reduced and either H2O or CO2 is used as the oxidizing agent to produce H2 or CO, and (3) the solar thermochemical reduction of ZnO, in which the thermal reduction of ZnO is coupled to the selective oxidation of CH4 for the co-production of zinc and 2:1 H2/CO synthesis gas.
MSI resources are used to model various aspects of chemical reactions, fluid flow, and heat transfer and structural mechanics for the design of prototype reactors and the analysis of experimental results. Furthermore, research is also being performed to improve performance of residential solar thermal hot water systems through efficient thermal stratification in hot water tanks. MSI resources are used to simulate mass and heat transfer in thermal storage tanks with porous stratification manifolds during various charging processes.
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