In our research, we are aiming for harnessing solar energy in form of heat (solar thermal), heat-electricity (PVT) and fuel (solar fuel).
There are excellent reasons to convert sunlight into heat. Solar energy is projected to provide up to 20% of relatively low temperature (<120˚C) process heat for industry by the year 2050. By that same year, solar-thermal-driven cooling could account for as much as 17% of the energy use required for cooling, and solar-generated hot water and space heating could meet 14% of the worldwide demand for building hot water and space heating. However, solar irradiation is intermittent and unstable. The mismatch between the solar energy supply and demand restricts its widespread application. Thermal energy storage technologies are needed to match the variable supply of sustainable heat and to optimize the performance of solar-thermal systems. Innovative compact thermal energy storage technologies are based on the physical principles and properties of phase change materials (PCM) where heat can be stored in a more dense form and with less losses compared to the conventional heat storage systems(e.g. hot water storage tanks). Nevertheless, the application of PCM was hampered by the leakage of melted phase during phase transition, low thermal conductivity and their extra costs as a separate storage system.
The aim of Inno-DSS project is to elucidate the potential of shape-stabilized phase change material (SSPCM) based direct absorption solar collectors .The higher efficiency of the solar collector with higher energy storage density will be delivered by utilizing the concept of combining photo-thermal conversion and latent heat storage. Thermal storage including phase change materials have the potential to store larger amounts of thermal energy within a smaller temperature range compared to storage tank using water. The integration of separate thermal energy storage unit into domestic hot water systems is efficient but a costly solution. Due to the low thermal conductivity of many PCMs, poor rates of thermal diffusion within the PCM can reduce significantly the nominal storage system charge and discharge rates. Previous researches report a low system efficiency enhancements between 5 to 10%. These issues will be addressed in this project by introducing the new configuration of solar-thermal collector using novel SSPCMs and single unit for photo-thermal conversion and heat storage.
Carbon dioxide is by many considered the building block of the (transportation) fuel and (chemical or agricultural) industry of the future. Carbon dioxide can be used to produce liquid fuels and chemicals, that are currently produced from fossil carbon sources. The use of carbon dioxide as a raw material for chemicals and fuels opens the door for truly sustainable products, if sustainable energy sources are used for the conversion.
Two types of carbon dioxide sources can be used as a raw material: carbon dioxide captured for concentrated sources and carbon dioxide captured from air. Of the two, the former is limited in availability and location. The latter can be obtained anywhere in the world where a need is present, while the effort needed for capturing carbon dioxide from air is not much higher than that needed to capture carbon dioxide from a concentrated source.
Previous research at the University of Twente, funded by ANTECY BV, has resulted in the development of a promising process and technology and the filing of multiple patents regarding the capture and release of carbon dioxide from air. The project proposed is aimed at creating more fundamental knowledge on the process of capturing carbon dioxide from air in general as well as specifically with regard to the process developed in the previous process thus aiding the up scaling of the technology in practice.