Solar Energy Powered Material-Based Conversion of CO2 to Fuels

Period of Performance: 06/13/2016 - 03/12/2017


Phase 1 SBIR

Recipient Firm

Precision Combustion, Inc.
410 Sackett Point Road Array
North Haven, CT 06473
Firm POC
Principal Investigator


Conversion of carbon dioxide to useful products via reaction with methane is problematic due to the energy inputs needed to overcome the large endothermic heats of reaction involved. Moreover, use of fossil fuels or carbon-based renewable fuels as energy sources will result in more CO2 released than is converted. Non-carbon renewable sources of energy, including wind and solar, are intermittent and so present challenges in terms of availability of the high quality, high temperature thermal energies needed for high-yield CO2 upgrading. Our process makes effective use of intermittent high-grade solar energy by employing a multi-functional material. This material enables the alternating capture and release of solar energy, using the exothermic part of the cycle to convert the endothermic reaction of CO2 and CH4 to CO- and H2-containing syngas. This process utilizes our highly efficient catalyst support for enhanced reaction rates, enabling process intensification and scalability. This combination and approach will enable effective use of intermittent solar power, regardless of location, as a pathway to converting greenhouse gases to hydrocarbon-based products. Our process provides an alternative to storage of captured carbon, while using renewable solar energy as a power source. The opportunity to convert captured carbon to fuels and chemicals via concentrated solar power avoids the costs and risk of storage and delivers a valuable energy resource. Our scalable process transforms CO2 and CH4 into syngas, which is then readily convertible into a range of chemicals or fuels, providing an alternative to conventional petroleum refining. Our process allows carbon-emitting operations to avoid the considerable costs of transporting and providing long term storage of captured carbon. Further, our approach uses the energy from a 100% renewable resource, heat from a concentrated solar power collector, to drive our process. We see our process as complimentary to carbon capture technologies, replacing some or all of the equipment required for storage, making carbon capture more economic regardless of CO2 source, including coal, natural gas or biofuels. Key Words – concentrated solar power, carbon dioxide, methane, syngas, renewable, SunShot