We report on the experimental evaluation of a 5 kW solar chemical reactor for the steam-gasification of petcoke, carried out at PSI’s solar furnace. A petcoke-water slurry was continuously injected into a solar cavity-receiver to create a vortex flow directly exposed to concentrated solar radiation. For a nominal reactor temperature of 1500 K, a residence time of 2.4 s, and a water-petcoke molar ratio of 4.8, the maximum degree of petcoke conversion was 87%. Typical syngas composition produced was 62% H2, 25% CO, 12% CO2, and 1% CH4. The energy conversion efficiency — defined as the portion of solar energy absorbed as chemical energy and sensible heat — attained 17%. The effect of varying the particle size (range 8.5–200 μm) and slurry stoichiometry (range 2.1–6.3) on the degree of chemical conversion and energy conversion efficiency was examined.

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