MIT Announces Innovative Design To Produce Green Hydrogen From Solar

MIT Announces Innovative Design To Produce Green Hydrogen From Solar - Carbon Herald

Engineers from the prestigious Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) have devised an innovative system to harness the sun’s heat for the efficient production of green hydrogen, the university said on its website Friday.

In a breakthrough study published in Solar Energy Journal last week, they introduce a conceptual design for a “solar thermochemical hydrogen” (STCH) system.

Unlike conventional hydrogen production methods reliant on fossil fuels, STCH uses renewable solar energy exclusively, resulting in a completely emissions-free process.

Typically, hydrogen is manufactured using natural gas and other non-renewable resources, making it an environmentally questionable energy source.

Source: MIT

Previous STCH designs, however, suffered from low efficiency, with only 7% of incoming sunlight converted into hydrogen.

The MIT team’s new design aims to increase this efficiency dramatically, potentially harnessing up to 40% of the sun’s heat for green hydrogen production, an improvement that has been demonstrated through detailed simulations.

This could significantly reduce the overall cost of the system, making STCH a scalable and affordable solution for decarbonizing the transportation sector.

“We’re thinking of hydrogen as the fuel of the future, and there’s a need to generate it cheaply and at scale,” Ahmed Ghoniem, lead author of the study, said in a comment.

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The researchers believe their system can help achieve the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE)’s goal of producing green hydrogen at $1 per kilogram by 2031.

The MIT system employs a train-like configuration of reactors, set around a concentrated solar plant (CSP) tower.

Each reactor houses a metal that undergoes a thermochemical reaction, allowing it to separate hydrogen from water when subjected to high temperatures.

A critical innovation of this design is its efficient use of heat: reactors exchange heat through thermal radiation, and a second set of reactors circles around the primary train to evacuate oxygen without energy-consuming vacuum pumps.

A prototype of the system will be tested in concentrated solar power facilities at DOE labs next year, potentially paving the way for modular systems located in the heart of solar fields, significantly scaling up hydrogen production in a sustainable manner, MIT said.

Read more: Researchers Produced Green Hydrogen Straight From The Ocean

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