Thursday, April 26, 2012
Mechanical and Civil Engineering Seminar
From Sunlight to Fuels and Power: Radiative Transfer and Properties
Wojciech Lipinski, Assistant Professor, College of Science and Engineering, University of Minnesota
Solar radiation is a practically unlimited source of energy and its largescale utilization holds the promise of being environmentally benign. However, it is intermittent with respect to daily and seasonal cycles, and it is mostly available at locations far from populated centers. Thus, storing solar energy is crucial for bridging the spatial and temporary gaps between the availability and the demand. The high energy density storage option in form of solar thermochemical fuels appears the most intriguing due to the potentially highly-transformative outcomes. It generates exciting opportunities for multidisciplinary studies in the classical fields associated with mechanical and chemical engineering such as thermal, thermochemical and electrochemical sciences, which are increasingly enriched by elements of modern physics, chemistry and materials science at multiple scales in space and time. The lecture will review advances in high-temperature thermal paths of solar energy conversion, with the focus on the underlying fundamental transport processes. Examples of recent research problems including numerical and experimental studies of radiative transfer in heterogeneous media encountered in solar reactors and receivers will be discussed.