In a free public seminar at 3:30 PM on March 12, in room 1115 of the Wisconsin Energy Institute, UW–Madison professor of chemical and biological engineering Christos Maravelias will give a talk on solar fuels.
We develop a system-level framework for the analysis of a general solar refinery. We first briefly review the state-of-the-art in solar energy conversion to solar utilities (heat, electricity, and as a photon source for photo-chemical reactions), CO2 capture and separation technologies, and non-biological methods for converting CO2 and H2O to fuels. We consider the solar conversion subsystem integrated with separation subsystems. We then utilize process modeling to assess the energy efficiency and economic feasibility of a general solar refinery. We show that in a well-designed system, sunlight, or more precisely the cost associated with the solar conversion subsystem, is a dominant factor, and the focus of development efforts should largely be on increasing the efficiency of this component.