Thermodynamic development and design of a concentrating solar thermochemical water-splitting process for co-production of hydrogen and electricity

Vishnu Kumar Budama, Nathan Johnson, Anthony McDaniel, Ivan Ermanoski, Ellen Stechel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations


A concentrating solar plant is proposed for a thermochemical water-splitting process with excess heat used for electricity generation in an organic Rankine cycle. The quasi-steady state thermodynamic model consisting of 23 components and 45 states uses adjustable design parameters to optimize hydrogen production and system efficiency. The plant design and associated thermodynamic model demonstrate that cerium oxide is suitable for thermochemical water-splitting cycles involving the co-production of hydrogen and electricity. Design point analyses at 900 W/m2 DNI indicate that a single tower with solar radiation input of 27.74 MW and an aperture area of 9.424 m2 yields 10.96 MW total output comprised of 5.55 MW hydrogen (Gibbs free energy) and 5.41 MW net electricity after subtracting off 22.0% of total power generation for auxiliary loads. Pure hydrogen output amounts to 522 tonne/year at 20.73 GWh/year (HHV) or 17.20 GWh/year (Gibbs free energy) with net electricity generation at 14.52 GWh/year using TMY3 data from Daggett, California, USA. Annual average system efficiency is 38.2% with the constituent hydrogen fraction and electrical fraction being 54.2% and 45.8%, respectively. Sensitivity analyses illustrate that increases in particle loop recuperator effectiveness create an increase in hydrogen production and a decrease in electricity generation. Further, recuperator effectiveness has a measurable effect on hydrogen production, but has limited impact on total system efficiency given that 81.1% of excess heat is recuperated within the system for electricity generation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)17574-17587
Number of pages14
JournalInternational Journal of Hydrogen Energy
Issue number37
StatePublished - Sep 13 2018


  • Ceria
  • Concentrating solar power
  • Hydrogen production
  • Redox-active metal-oxide
  • Solar fuels
  • Solar thermochemical

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
  • Fuel Technology
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Energy Engineering and Power Technology


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