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The efficient production of solar fuels by means of developing new perovskites with redox capacity for the thermochemical splitting of CO2 and H2O

17th national competition for scientific and technical research

Renewable energy: materials and processes

Senior Researcher : Juan Manuel Coronado Carneiro

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Research Centre or Institution : IMDEA Energía.


Although solar energy is now in commercial use to generate electricity using different technologies (PV and CSP), there is growing interest in using this renewable source for the production of what are known as solar fuels. These substances, which are energy rich and of varying chemical composition, are obtained by processes that make it possible to store part of solar radiation in molecular bonds. They may contribute not only to increasing the sustainability of the transport sector, but also to making more efficient use of the solar resource.

Of the options for obtaining solar fuels, thermochemical cycles based on metal oxides to split water and CO2 are one of the most promising routes to obtain gas synthesis (CO+H2), although the yields obtained to date are still limited. The design of new more efficient redox materials which are more adaptable to different operating conditions may make fully renewable fuel production a reality.

In this context, recent advances in using stoichiometrically complex perovskites such as La1-xSrxMnO3-δand La1-xSrxMnyAl1-xO3-δ show clear signs that their chemical composition and structural, morphological and textural properties are relevant factors that have to be optimised together to design better performing redox mediators. Using this holistic focus in material design, and taking advantage of the chemical versatility of perovskites, the core aim of this project is to increase the efficiencies obtained to date with these systems in producing hydrogen and synthesised gas under operating conditions that are compatible with concentrating solar systems. Likewise, the aim is to achieve better understanding of the mechanism involved in the processes that occur in the gas-solid interphase, so that the knowledge acquired can be used to optimise the redox materials used.

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