Carbon particles can be used as catalyst in solar reactors where they serve as radiant absorbent and nucleation sites for the heterogeneous decomposition reaction. Unlike commonly used metal catalysts, carbon catalyst does not have durability problem and high cost. However, in order to achieve sustainable catalytic decomposition of feedstock over carbon catalysts at elevated temperatures, the surface area of the carbon particles must be maintained. A subsequent treatment of deactivated carbon samples with CO2 at about 1000°C would increase the surface and would recover the original activity as catalyst. In solar reactor, carbon particles are directly exposed to the high-flux irradiation providing efficient radiation heat transfer directly to the reaction site. Therefore, one of the key parameters to achieve higher conversion efficiencies in solar reactor is the presence and transport of carbon particles. This paper will present impact of carbon use in enhancing the heat transfer inside a solar reactor radiated by a solar simulator. Flux entering the receiver is determined using Monte Carlo ray tracing (MCRT) method which is coupled with energy balance equations to derive numerical model describing dynamic temperature variation in solar receiver. Simulation results indicated that feeding carbon particles results to lower temperatures for the cavity walls and working fluid compare to the case that no carbon is injected. This finding is in accordance with our experimental results obtained from a cylindrical cavity receiver radiated by a 7 kW solar simulator. The results indicated that heat transfer within the system is highly influenced by the particle size. At particle sizes larger than 450 μm, carbon feeding increases the thermal efficiency of the system.

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