Patent Filed for Solar Thermal Hydrogen Receiver

While some proponents of solar would prefer to see their technologies — be it solar photovoltaic, solar thermal or CSP — contributing energy directly to the national electric grid, there are plenty of advocates hoping to see solar used to convert the Sun’s energy to hydrogen which could later be used in distributed generation or the transportation sector.

One company chasing this dream is the Canada-based Solar Hydrogen Energy Corporation (SHEC). They recently announced the filing for a patent on their particular solar receiver through the Canadian Patent Office. The company is seeking global protection on this technology, which they broadly entitled “Solar Energy Collector”. These days, interest is building in harnessing renewable solar thermal energy for a variety of heat driven processes. These may include thermo-mechanical as in sterling engines, steam turbine power generation systems, thermo-chemical reforming, thermal-disassociation of water, process heating and materials processing etc. And SHEC thinks they’re honing in on it. “This is a major breakthrough in the economical collection of solar radiation and when combined with complementary technologies we have developed at SHEC-Labs, we feel we are ready for the next step, commercialization.” said Tom Beck, President and C.E.O. of SHEC-Labs. The present invention provides a receiver assembly in which solar radiation is converted to heat by multiple internal reflections within a reflective cavity. This cavity receiver assembly is thermally coupled to the required heat process, according to the company. The receiver assembly has sufficient mass to prevent thermal fluctuations and provides the coupled process with a consistent temperature regardless of minor insulation or reflected solar energy variations. Another company pursing a similar goal is the Arizona-based Stirling Energy Systems, which is working on a solar thermal process that couples large dish-style solar energy receivers and stirling engines.

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