Solar Thermochemical Energy Storage: The Formation of Sized Metal Oxide Samples

Faculty Sponsor

Luke Venstrom




Mechanical Engineering

Presentation Type

Poster Presentation

Symposium Date

Spring 5-3-2019


Energy storage is a key enabling technology for the deployment of solar energy to produce electricity. Energy storage allows solar energy that shines during the day to be stored up and used at a later time when there is demand for electricity but no sunlight. While short duration storage within a day is now a mature technology, there long duration storage to enable storage and release of solar energy over the course of days, weeks, or months remains a challenge. Solar thermochemical energy storage is a promising approach to meet the need for long-term storage. It stores solar energy chemically by reacting metal oxide particles with air using high-temperature, concentrated sunlight.

The particle size of metal oxides is a critical design factor in the optimization of the efficiency of solar thermochemical energy storage. While it is understood that larger particles slow the reduction reaction rate due to decreased surface area and available heat transfer, the size limits of cobalt oxide (Co3O4) and manganese oxide (Mn2O3) have not be identified. In order to determine the effects of particle size on the metal oxide reduction rate, multiple sizes must be fabricated. In this research project, metal oxide particles of various sizes were formed through a combination of sintering and sieving. The results show that cobalt oxide and manganese oxide can be formed into particle sizes between 4000 µm and 40 µm. This research and manufactured samples will be to used to study the effects of varying particle size on solar thermal efficiency.

Biographical Information about Author(s)

David Mackey is a Mechanical Engineering Major anticipating graduation in 2019. This is his first year with the Solar Research team but he is interested in the application of renewable energy technologies. Specifically he has been impressed by the potential and progress within solar thermochemical storage.

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