Thermodynamic and transport phenomena analyses of solar thermochemical systems for fuel production

Solar thermochemical fuel production via non-stoichiometric redox cycling offers great promise to address global issues like energy shortage and climate change. However, its commercial viability critically relies on improvement in both redox materials and the reactor systems utilizing them.

Motivated by the desire to identify promising materials as well as reactor concepts that allow for efficient and fast fuel production, this doctoral research focuses on studying thermodynamics and transport phenomena of solar-driven thermochemical systems. The findings derived will help guide the design of a lab-scale reactor towards achieving an unprecedentedly high solar-to-fuel efficiency of at least 10%.

For this purpose, first-stage thermodynamic analysis on the overall fuel production process is a useful tool to explore the efficiency upper limits and to identify the corresponding optimal operating conditions. The effects of different material candidates within two reactor concepts will be examined in series in order to screen the most efficient combination.

Next, focused specifically on the screened material and reactor, we aim to predict more realistic performance by investigating the transport phenomena step by step. Phenomena of mass and momentum transfer as well as reaction kinetics will be studied first under isothermal operation, followed by a plan to incorporate the effect of non-isothermal conditions in the near-future.

The isothermal numerical model serves to validate the first-stage thermodynamic model and also to pave the way for the follow-up two-phase heat transfer model. By solving the governing physical equations in such a model system, the effects of reactor design and operational parameters will be examined with the following objectives: (i) to see how much the realistic performance deviates from its upper limit, (ii) to identify the critical conversion-limiting factors under varying conditions, and (iii) to help guide reactor design and operation towards achieving the performance upper limits.


Join us via Zoom webinar: 

Meeting ID: 236-996-3265



Sha Li obtained her Bachelor degree in Energy and Power Engineering from China University of Petroleum (Beijing) in 2012, and her Master degree in Engineering Thermophysics from Beihang University, China in 2015. She started her PhD journey at the Solar Thermal Group in ANU from December 1, 2015.


Date & time

11am–12pm 24 Jul 2020

Location Meeting ID: 236-996-3265

Internal speakers

Ms Sha Li

Updated:  10 August 2021/Responsible Officer:  Dean, CECS/Page Contact:  CECS Marketing