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Solar-Thermal Fluid-Wall Reaction Processing

University of Colorado

National Renewable Energy Laboratory

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Technology Marketing Summary

Currently most hydrogen is produced through a process of heating natural gas with water vapor called steam reforming. This process requires energy to heat the gasses and produces greenhouse gases such as CO2 as its byproducts. These conditions confine steam reforming to large industrial plants requiring trucks to transport the hydrogen to users, since most population centers have regulations that prohibit such high levels of CO2.


In contrast, this technology developed by a CU team led by Alan Weimer uses concentrated sunlight to heat natural gas above 1800 degrees C. This high temperature breaks the gas into hydrogen and carbon, without any harmful byproducts. This process can efficiently and inexpensively produce hydrogen with no emissions, waste, or transportation requirements.

Patents and Patent Applications
ID Number
Title and Abstract
Primary Lab
Patent 7,033,570
Solar-thermal fluid-wall reaction processing
The present invention provides a method for carrying out high temperature thermal dissociation reactions requiring rapid-heating and short residence times using solar energy. In particular, the present invention provides a method for carrying out high temperature thermal reactions such as dissociation of hydrocarbon containing gases and hydrogen sulfide to produce hydrogen and dry reforming of hydrocarbon containing gases with carbon dioxide. In the methods of the invention where hydrocarbon containing gases are dissociated, fine carbon black particles are also produced. The present invention also provides solar-thermal reactors and solar-thermal reactor systems.
National Renewable Energy Laboratory 04/25/2006
Technology Status
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To: Lola Underwood<>