Transforming Energy Lecture Series Sponsored by UMERC and Mechanical Engineering Dept.

Friday, December 7, 2012
3:00 p.m.
Room 1202, Glenn L. Martin Hall
Annette Mateus
301 405 4799

Dr. James Klausner, Ebaugh Professor
Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering
Gainesville, Florida 32611

"High Temperature Thermochemical Conversion: Coal to Hydrogen and Sunlight to Fuel"


It is well known that the amount of solar energy striking a 500´500 kilometer portion of the earth is sufficient to meet the current energy demand of the entire planet. As such, the U.S. National Academy of Engineering has cited the economical capture and utilization of solar energy as one of the National Grand Challenges. Making fuels from sunlight is one of the strategic goals in the Department of Energy’s report, New Science for a Secure and Sustainable Energy Future. Because solar energy is an intermittent power source and the most suitable locations for solar power collection are desert regions and generally away from urban centers, it is essential that solar energy collection be coupled with energy storage technologies to be economical. Numerous storage solutions are being pursued, but the chemical storage of solar energy as a fuel is a superior concept due to the high energy density and the existing global infrastructure for fuel transport and storage. This talk will discuss a novel dual cavity, windowless, high temperature chemical reactor that converts concentrated solar thermal energy to Syngas, which is currently under development at the University of Florida. The cost effective, solar thermochemical production of Syngas, using an iron-based non-volatile metal oxide looping processes as a precursor for clean and carbon neutral synthetic hydrocarbon fuels such as methanol, methane, or synthetic petroleum, is the overarching project goal. The reactor uses water and recycled CO2 as the sole feed-stock and concentrated solar radiation as the sole energy source. Thus, the solar fuel is completely renewable and carbon neutral. A 5000 sun solar simulator has been developed as an energy driver for the thermochemical reactions. A highly reactive, high surface area iron-based porous structure has been synthesized using a magnetically stabilized bed sintering technique which has been used for coal-to-hydrogen conversion. A hybrid reactor kinetic model has been developed and validated over a number of cycles in laboratory scale reactors. The magnetically stabilized porous structure may also be used as a volumetric absorber and facilitate chemical storage for solar driven steam power plants. Ongoing work involving the high temperature looping process to convert coal to hydrogen will also be considered.


Dr. James F. Klausner currently serves as a Program Director at the Advanced Research Projects Agency – Energy ARPA-E). His main focuses include: waste heat and solar driven, low temperature desalination; solar thermal energy driven synthetic fuel synthesis; heat exchangers for spacecraft; and high heat flux cooling. In addition to his position at ARPA-E, Dr. Klausner is a Newton C. Ebaugh Professor of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering at the University of Florida.

At the University of Florida, Dr. Klausner served as the Chair of the Energy Strategic Planning Committee from 2009-2012, Interim Director for Electronic Delivery of Graduate Education from 2006-2007, and as Coordinator for the Thermal Science and Fluid Dynamics Research and Education Group in the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering from 2002-2012. Within the academic engineering community, he is best known for his fundamental science contributions to thermal fluids energy transport. He is a Fellow of the American Society of Mechanical Engineering and the Japan Society for the Promotion of Sciences, in addition to serving on the editorial boards of the International Journal of Heat and Fluid Flow, Frontiers in Heat and Mass Transfer, and the Open Journal for Thermodynamics. He has authored more than 100 technical publications in the thermal fluid sciences and is author of eight patents or patent applications.

Dr. Klausner received a B.S. in marine systems engineering from the United States Merchant Marine Academy in 1984, and M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in mechanical engineering from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign in 1986 and 1989, respectively.

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