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"SunGas: Renewable Thermochemical Fuels" Seminar

Tuesday, March 6, 2012 * 2 p.m.

When Mar 06, 2012
from 02:00 pm to 03:15 pm
Where Ernst 103
Contact Name
Contact Phone (502) 852-8597
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Conn Center for Renewable Energy Research presents
Dr. Jane H. Davidson
Ronald L. and Janet A. Christenson Chair in Renewable Energy
Professor of Mechanical Engineering
University of Minnesota

Turning fossil fuel into energy is easy⎯you just burn it and live with the carbon dioxide byproduct. What if we could reverse the process and turn carbon dioxide back into fuel? Join University of Minnesota mechanical engineering professor Jane Davidson, who will present her research team's efforts to solve one of the world's most pressing challenges: the need to drastically reduce greenhouse gas emissions while simultaneously meeting an exploding global demand for energy. Davidson will discuss the potential of using concentrated solar energy to produce synthetic hydrocarbons that have properties equivalent to what we are deriving from petroleum today. The presentation will provide an overview of the conversion of concentrated sunlight into stored chemical energy in the form of hydrogen and synthesis gas. In a new approach for biomass gasification, the biomass is gasified in a molten carbonate salt, which enhances heat transfer and catalyzes the gasification reaction. Initial results from bench top experiments demonstrate the efficacy of the approach. In a second approach, a metal oxide is cycled between a reduction and oxidation step. The metal oxide exhales oxygen during reduction and then inhales oxygen when reacted with water or carbon dioxide. The gaseous fuels can be further processed to liquid fuels. Progress with zinc oxide and other metal oxides as well as reactor designs will be presented.

Jane Davidson is Professor of Mechanical Engineering at the University of Minnesota and Director of the Solar Energy Laboratory. She holds the Ronald L. and Janet A. Christenson Chair in Renewable Energy. She received a Ph.D. from the Duke University in 1984. Before coming to Minnesota in 1993, she was a faculty member at the University of Delaware and the Colorado State University. Her current research addresses mixed and natural convection heat transfer in thermal storage systems, material characterization and thermal transport processes in polymer-based solar collectors and heat exchangers, and solar thermo-chemical cycles, and chemical processes in gaseous electrical discharges. Dr. Davidson has served as Editor of the ASME Journal of Solar Energy Engineering, Chair of the ASME Solar Energy Division, and on the Boards of the American Solar Energy Society (ASES) and the Solar Rating and Certification Corporation. She is the recipient of the 2009 Ada Comstock Award, the 2007 American Solar Energy Society Charles Greeley Abbot Award, and the 2004 ASME John I. Yellott Award. She is a Fellow of ASME and ASES.

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