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Experimental and Theoretical Investigation of Solar Molten Media Methane Cracking for Hydrogen Production Open Access


Other title
liquid metals
methane decomposition
hydrogen production
direct contact pyrolysis
methane cracking
Type of item
Degree grantor
University of Alberta
Author or creator
Paxman, Derek E
Supervisor and department
Secanell, Marc (Mechanical Engineering)
Examining committee member and department
Flynn, Morris (Mechanical Engineering)
Kostiuk, Larry (Mechanical Engineering),
Secanell, Marc (Mechanical Engineering)
Department of Mechanical Engineering

Date accepted
Graduation date
Master of Science
Degree level
Canada is the largest H2 consumer per capita in the world, giving a strong market demand for H2. H2 is commercially produced using steam CH4 reforming, which is energy and CO2 intensive. Solar molten metal CH4 cracking is an alternative zero emissions technology. Solar radiation is focused with large curved mirrors onto the molten metal. The molten media provides improved heat transfer, a thermal storage medium against transient solar flux, and a unique method of separating H2 and C. Blank and molten metal alumina tube reactors are studied from 1023 K to 1323 K. Plug flow, perfectly mixed, and combined perfectly mixed with a bypass (CPMR) reactor models were numerically implemented to simulate the blank reactor and determine the kinetic parameters. The CPMR model incorporated a third parameter that dictates how much how travels through the bypass. Results for the CPMR model showed k0 = 5.43e15 1/s, Ea = 420.7 kJ/mol and β = 0.426. The CPMR model was shown to have 8.3% ± 6.8% average error against data found in literature. Sn was selected as the bath material for the molten metal reactor (MMR), and the reaction gas was bubbled through the bath using an injector. 18.9% conversion was obtained at 1273 K, and near zero conversion for lower temperatures. A numerical model of the MMR was implemented using a spherical bubble model coupled with the CPMR model for the blank space above the molten metal. The MMR model showed that the majority of CH4 conversion occurred in the blank space above the bath. Decreasing bubble size and increasing bath height improved bubble conversion.
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