|A CHP solar concentrator and furnace unit. The furnace is at the end of the arm.|
Clean Hydrogen Producers (CHP), an early stage company based in Switzerland, has signed an agreement with Grupo Ibereólica, a multi-national alternative energy company based in Madrid, Spain, outlining the planning, permitting and appraisal of CHP’s Solar Water Cracker technology in Spain and Mexico.
The CHP Solar Water Cracker is a system which concentrates sunlight to heat a furnace to the point where it splits water into hydrogen and oxygen. The hydrogen can be sold or run through a fuel cell to generate energy. This energy can then be sold back to the grid.
The pre-sale agreement details terms that grants Ibereólica an exclusive license right to promote, install and manage solar energy plants in Spain and Mexico, using the CHP Solar Water Cracker, for a period of 20 years. CHP has received a non-refundable prepayment for the license of €500,000 (US$674,000) and this will be booked as revenue by CHP.
While materials with melting points well above 3,000°C have long been known, compounds that can be used to build a high-temperature thermal reactor, and the necessary filters for gas separation, are relatively recent developments, according to CHP, which is focused on developing the requisite hydrogen filters.
CHP’s standard solar concentrator has a combined mirror surface area of 93 m2. It concentrates sunlight 10,000 times onto a focal point to heat a furnace to an internal temperature of 2,200°C. Above 1,700°C, the water molecules start to crack. At 2,200°C, an optimal portion of the molecules of water have cracked into hydrogen and oxygen and can be filtered out by the proprietary ceramic filters and technology lodged in its furnace.
The company estimates that on a standard day of 6.5 hours of sunlight (6.5 kWh/m2/day), one standard 93 m2 solar concentrator will enable to concentrate enough energy to crack 94.9 liters of water into hydrogen or oxygen, producing approximately 3,800 kg of gaseous hydrogen over 12 months (about 10.4 kg per day).
The working volume for one of these furnaces is 150 liters in volume, roughly one quarter the size of a standard Stirling engine used for power generation with solar concentrators. The furnace also has no moving parts and is much lighter.
The agreement represents a significant breakthrough for CHP. In addition to providing a revenue injection, collaboration with Ibereólica will accelerate the process leading to production of fully operational solar energy units utilizing the Solar Water Cracker.
Ibereólica, founded in 1999, is an established provider of wind energy. Its three wind farms in Zamora and its share in Parque Eolico El Moral are forecast to produce 300 million kWh of electricity in 2007, and Ibereólica has a further 800MW in promotion in Spain and overseas. In Solar energy, Ibereólica has 14 power plants of 50MW each under permitting.
We believe that CHP’s technology, if successfully developed, could represent a very big milestone for renewable energies. It combines the cost efficiency of wind farms with the advantage of being both predictable and adjustable thanks to hydrogen storage. It is one of the few renewable technologies that aren’t sensitive to the stability of power lines. This permits widespread implementation, even in areas with weak electrical infrastructure. Certifying a prototype with CHP could reduce Ibereólica’s project installation costs by a factor of three, and enable us to comfortably surpass 1,000 MW installed capacity. We are happy to have the license for Spain, a leading country in renewable energy. This combined with Spain’s privileged solar radiation makes for a very promising business opportunity.—David Gomez, CEO of Grupo Ibereólica