- Solar Thermochemical Hydrogen Research and Development
Dr. Tatsuya Kodama, Professor of the Faculty of Engineering / Institute of Science and Technology, Niigata University, is developing the technologies to produce clean hydrogen via thermochemical water splitting utilizing high-temperature solar heat obtained by concentrating sunlight with reflective mirrors. He is currently participating in a large-scale demonstration project of a hydrogen production system utilizing solar heat in Australia.
Hydrogen energy is expected to be a next-generation energy source for power generation, fuel for cars and heat sources that replace fossil fuels because hydrogen energy utilization does not emit carbon dioxide (CO2) which causes global warming. However, the conventional methods to produce hydrogen using fossil fuel emit CO2 during the production processes.
Professor Kodama is developing technologies for producing hydrogen as the ultimate clean energy that does not generate CO2 in the production process, concentrating sunlight using a beam-down solar concentrator equipped with reflective mirrors to obtain heat and then, splitting water with the solar heat.
In principle, water thermally decomposes into hydrogen and oxygen at a temperature of 2500 ºC or higher. However, reaching and maintaining this reaction temperature stably using solar heat collection is quite difficult. Professor Kodama and his colleagues conduct researches on metal oxide catalysts and reactors that split water to generate hydrogen. They have developed technologies that efficiently generate hydrogen at 1200 ºC to 1300 ºC. In addition, they have been developing element technologies for the practical application of the hydrogen generation system, under the collaboration research utilizing the 100 kW beam-down solar concentrating system in Miyazaki, Japan which was constructed jointly with the University of Miyazaki, and other collaboration researches with overseas research institutes.
On October 2018, Prof. Kodama’s team of Niigata University and their research collaborators, Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), Australia, and Institute of Applied Energy (IAE), Japan, launched a demonstration project funded by the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA), in which a 500 kW large-scale solar concentrator in Newcastle, southeastern Australia be used, and Prof. Kodama’s team has been providing technologies to the project. Professor Kodama is designing a large-scale solar reactor for generating solar hydrogen with solar heat and developing metal oxide particles as a catalyst to promote chemical reactions. They are planning to demonstrate their solar reactor system on site in 2021. Their goal is to establish the technologies through their demonstration this time and to create a path to a sustainable hydrogen society.
Professor Kodama’s research was introduced on page 33 of Niigata Nippo Newspaper, Japan, on Thursday, July 18 under the headline “Next Generation Energy Touchstone.”
Niigata University positions this research on the development of solar thermochemical hydrogen production as one of the approaches of a basic functional enhancement strategy for future development, and Niigata University will continue to promote this.
Source: Niigata University