Design and Evaluation of a Concentrating Solar Power System with Thermochemical Water Splitting Process for the Co-production of Hydrogen and Electricity

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Thermodynamic development and balance of plant study is completed for a 30 MW solar thermochemical water splitting process that generates hydrogen gas and electric power. The generalized thermodynamic model includes

Thermodynamic development and balance of plant study is completed for a 30 MW solar thermochemical water splitting process that generates hydrogen gas and electric power. The generalized thermodynamic model includes 23 components and 45 states. Quasi-steady state simulations are completed for design point system sizing, annual performance analysis and sensitivity analysis. Detailed consideration is given to water splitting reaction kinetics with governing equations generalized for use with any redox-active metal oxide material. Specific results for Ceria illustrate particle reduction in two solar receivers for target oxygen partial pressure of 10 Pa and particle temperature of 1773 K at a design point DNI of 900 W/m2. Sizes of the recuperator, steam generator and hydrogen separator are calculated at the design point DNI to achieve 100,000 kg of hydrogen production per day from the plant. The total system efficiency of 39.52% is comprised of 50.7% hydrogen fraction and 19.62% electrical fraction. Total plant capital costs and operating costs are estimated to equate a hydrogen production cost of $4.40 per kg for a 25-year plant life. Sensitivity analysis explores the effect of environmental parameters and design parameters on system performance and cost. Improving recuperator effectiveness from 0.7 to 0.8 is a high-value design modification resulting in a 12.1% decrease in hydrogen cost for a modest 2.0% increase in plant $2.85M. At the same time, system efficiency is relatively inelastic to recuperator effectiveness because 81% of excess heat is recovered from the system for electricity production 39 MWh/day and revenue is $0.04 per kWh. Increasing water inlet pressure up to 20 bar reduces the size and cost of super heaters but further pressure rises increasing pump at a rate that outweighs super heater cost savings.