Thermofluidic Analysis of Artificial Photosynthesis Hydrogen Production Chamber Using Finite Element Analysis – UROP Symposium

Thermofluidic Analysis of Artificial Photosynthesis Hydrogen Production Chamber Using Finite Element Analysis

Vanessa Patino

Research Mentor(s): Taehoon Han
Program: Engin
Authors: Vanessa Patino, Taehoon Han, PhD

Abstract

The most common method of hydrogen production is steam methane reformation (SMR), an endothermic process creating ‘gray hydrogen’ named for its carbon waste emitted into the atmosphere. Due to increasing global temperatures caused by excessive amounts of greenhouse gasses released, the development of ‘green hydrogen,’ a zero-carbon emission process of hydrogen production is vital. Several green hydrogen production pathways are being suggested. However, green hydrogen production via thermochemical water splitting also known as artificial photosynthesis, an easily replicated process impacted highly by its main reactor chamber design, is one of the most promising techniques of green hydrogen production. To optimize the ‘green hydrogen’ reaction chamber design and complete system regarding hydrogen production efficiency, thermal analyses for the heat transfer within the reactor chambers were conducted utilizing the finite element analysis method (FEA) through Ansys Fluent. To conduct detailed thermal analysis, several chamber designs were suggested and drawn through the CAD (Computer Aided Design) software SolidWorks. The designs were converted into mesh files which could then be used in the Fluent solution solver. The variables for the reaction chamber efficiency were, ‘Sunlight intensity,’ ‘Water thickness,’ ‘Water supply flow rate,’ ‘gas product outlet location,’ ‘tilting angles for sunlight tracking system,’ and so on. The initial silicon wafer temperature, implementation of a flowing water system, and gas ventilation for H2 and O2 were analyzed to determine their effects on overall chamber temperature. Through Fluent simulation results for temperature contouring and particle tracking, it was found the water flow system had the biggest differences in their temperature gradients when compared to the control simulation.

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