Update of the Solar Furnace Hopper and Feeder System

Faculty Sponsor

Luke Venstrom




Mechanical Engineering

ORCID Identifier(s)


Presentation Type

Poster Presentation

Symposium Date

Spring 5-3-2019


Valparaiso University’s Solar Furnace reduces Co3O4 to CoO, capturing and storing the energy of the sun in chemical form. The CoO is then able to aid in the production of hydrogen through electrolysis. In the Fall of 2018, the feeder system that delivers the powdered Co3O4 to the solar furnace was redesigned to streamline the feeding process. The redesign consisted of modifying the hopper, simplifying the old two-auger system to a single-auger and calibrating the new system to a known feed rate. The new hopper has the ability to be placed directly adjacent to the furnace as its steel composition is capable of tolerating high operating temperatures of over 900 degrees Celsius. The new configuration simplifies the augers and shortens the distance that the Co3O4 powder needs to be transported before entering the furnace from approximately 12.5" to 5.5". The redesigned hopper and feeder system will be used in research experiments during the Summer of 2019 that will test the efficiency and conversion rate of the furnace at higher feed rates.

Biographical Information about Author(s)

Katherine Bassett is a Junior Mechanical Engineer with minors in Electrical Engineering, Mathematics and Environmental Studies. On campus she is involved in Valpo Robotics, Earthtones, Tau Beta Pi and SWE. Last summer, Katherine worked in ComEd’s Smart Grid Department and will be staying on campus this upcoming summer to take part in Valpo’s solar research. After graduation, Katherine plans to pursue a career in the renewable energy field.

This document is currently not available here.