Analysis of Planar-Cavity Receiver Reactor for Solar Thermochemical Dry-Reforming

Jeffrey Gifford, Patrick Davenport, Zhiwen Ma, Janna Martinek, Craig Turchi, Jeffrey Weissman

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review


Concentrating solar thermal (CST) systems can be leveraged to provide not only heat for power generation, but also for energy storage and thermochemical fuel production. Such solar thermochemical processes have been studied conceptually, from solar thermochemical hydrogen production (STCH) and thermochemical energy storage (TCES), to gasification, reforming, and fuel upgrading by various means. The solar receiver and reactor are critical components in the conversion of solar energy into chemical energy in the form of “solar fuels”. For effective conversion of solar energy within a coupled solar receiver-reactor, extremely high temperatures are required, thereby demanding a high solar concentration ratio (CR) for efficient operation. This creates a design challenge for the receiver-reactor, as many thermochemical processes involve gas or gas-solid systems that are limited by low heat transfer coefficients. A unique receiver design is proposed that has the potential to incorporate various high-temperature thermochemical processes such as TCES-assisted power generation, methane reforming, or STCH processes. Modeling this receiver and its potential applications requires a full three-dimensional model that accurately captures the interconnected effects of receiver geometry, spatial solar irradiance, complex radiation, reaction kinetics, fluid dynamics, and heat transfer. In this paper we analyze a CST system integrated with this unique planar-cavity receiver-reactor design using the developed model. The model presented in this paper showed where improved thermal management was needed to achieve suitable receiver performance when a dry-methane reforming process is implemented.

Original languageAmerican English
Number of pages9
StatePublished - 2019
EventASME 2019 International Mechanical Engineering Congress and Exposition, IMECE 2019 - Salt Lake City, United States
Duration: 11 Nov 201914 Nov 2019


ConferenceASME 2019 International Mechanical Engineering Congress and Exposition, IMECE 2019
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CitySalt Lake City

Bibliographical note

See NREL/CP-5500-73726 for preprint

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/CP-5500-76138


  • Concentrated solar power
  • Methane reforming
  • Solar fuels
  • Solar hydrogen
  • Solar reactor
  • Solar receiver
  • Solar thermochemical
  • Syngas


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