Faculty Sponsor

Dr. Peter Krenzke




Mechanical Engineering, Renewable Energy, Chemical Looping

ORCID Identifier(s)


Presentation Type

Poster Presentation

Symposium Date

Spring 4-28-2022


To transition to sustainable energy sources, it is necessary to develop energy storage technologies. In the Solar Energy Research Facility, we study chemical processes that store energy from concentrated sunlight. We utilize a process which transforms water into hydrogen. The process is driven by heat from concentrated sunlight and uses cyclic reduction and oxidation of cobalt oxide to remove oxygen from the water. The cobalt oxide allows us to store energy during the reduction step and releases it to produce hydrogen in the oxidation step. While the reduction step of the cycle may ultimately be carried out in a solar reactor, we created a benchtop apparatus to study the reduction and oxidation processes. We can perform the same reduction step as we would in the solar furnace, but it's weather independent and we are free to run longer experiments. We created it by machining and ordering custom components, printing custom 3D parts, wiring the apparatus and calibrating its components. To evaluate the process in the benchtop apparatus, we will pack cobalt oxide powder into a tube creating a packed bed. Using mass flow controllers to control the flow of gasses through the packed bed, we cycle cobalt oxide between reduce CoO and oxidized Co3O4 states by changing the temperature inside a heated electric furnace. We present results of experiments used to verify control of the gas delivery elements of the apparatus, including the mass flow controllers, solenoid valves, and flow measurement system.

Biographical Information about Author(s)

Alex Kagay is a sophomore Mechanical Engineering Major at Valparaiso University, minoring in Mathematics and Mechatronics. He is continuing his research, phasing to collecting data with the benchtop apparatus next fall. Alex Is interested in working in the aerospace or the military defense industry after college and then intends to pursue a Masters degree in Mechanical Engineering.