Concentrated solar power and pumped thermal electricity storage – synergy effects and innovative hybrid plant layouts
Large-scale high-temperature thermal energy storage (TES) is of high interest due to its cost competitiveness. Currently, high-temperature TES is applied in state-of-the-art solar thermal power plants (also referred to as concentrated solar power – CSP – plants), where molten salts are used for the storage of solar energy in the form of sensible heat. Another promising area of application for high-temperature TES is pumped thermal electricity storage (PTES), where high-temperature heat pumps are used to store electricity in the form of heat.
This line of research addresses new polygeneration power plant designs integrating one or several renewable resources, being concentrating solar energy one of them, and solar heat inindustrial processes (SHIP). For instance, potential applications are hybrid micro gas turbines using concentrating solar energy for combined heat and power generation to fully cover electric and thermal energy demands of a city district or hydrid systems using photovoltaics and solar thermal. Another use is related to large-scale solar fuel production, which would have a major impact on a sustainable future transportation sector.
The research group has extensive experience in systems for CO2 capture since 2006, as evidenced by the participation in several contracts with the companies Endesa Generación, S.A. and Instalaciones Inabensa, SA, the publication of up to 20 scientific articles directly related to the topic, the granting of a patent, and the award of several prizes to the doctoral theses resulting from the research (granted by the Institution of Chemical Engineers, IChemE, the European Federation of Chemical Engineering, EFCE, and the Spanish CO2 Platform, PTECO2).
Production of bio-renewable jet-fuel via aldol-condensation and HDO processes of lignocellulosic platform molecules
In this context, the main goal of the proposed research line is the optimization of the production of precursor molecules in the jet-fuel range (C8-13), especially aimed to reduce the carbon footprint of air transport. The research would be focused on the aldol condensation of biomass-derived furfural with different ketones, especially those also of renewable origin, seeking to optimize the catalytic system (nature and concentration of active sites, selection of the support, optimization of reaction conditions, etc.). Furthermore, HDO reaction is contemplated as way of reducing the oxygen content of the final biofuel.
Global awareness regarding established climate change and specifically with the high amount of CO2 emissions released to the atmosphere, has promoted increasing efforts to reduce the environmental impact and consequences. Direct capture of CO2 from the atmosphere (DAC- direct air capture) can be an important contribution to mitigate the climate change since this technology could address CO2 emissions from dispersed sources, which are responsible of half of annual emissions of CO2. This research line is focused on the study of CO2 capture from air with the main objective of developing adsorbent materials with high capacity and selectivity, and with potential textural and mechanical properties to develop effective DAC technology.
Bioeconomy, clean and efficient energy, and climate action are some of the H2020 program priorities driven by the European Commission to match the political union goals. Within this context, several work packages defined for the period 2018-2020 have focused on important aspects of these societal challenges, such as enabling near-zero CO2 emissions from carbon intensive industries (included fossil-fuel power plants), or the development of new alternatives for the production of bio-based products, within the context of circular economy.
Concentrated Solar Power (CSP) plants components should work in extreme conditions, from the functional and structural points of view. The central receiver is an example where it is necessary to modify the surface of the metallic component with solar selective absorber coatings. From the functional point of view, both high solar absorptance (a) and low thermal emittance (b) are required in these coatings to convert sunlight to thermal electric power.
Advanced biofuels production from residual lignocellulosic biomass combining biological and chemo-catalytic transformations
In particular, the objective of the present proposal is a collaborative research between the University of Alcalá and the Rey Juan Carlos University for the production of advanced biofuels from residual lignocellulosic biomass, combining both biological treatments and chemo-catalytic transformation stages.
Metal organic frameworks (MOFs) are hybrid crystalline materials, exhibiting high specific surface areas, controllable pore sizes and surface chemistry. These properties have made MOFs attractive for a wide range of applications including gas separation, gas storage and catalysis. They are one of the most promising candidates for CO2 capture due to their adsorption selectivity towards CO2.
Microbial Electrochemical Technologies (METs) will be developed as sustainable and efficient methods to i) transform wastewater residual components into high value-added bioproducts, and/or ii) degrade recalcitrant pollutants.