Pore-level engineering of macroporous media for increased performance of solar-driven thermochemical fuel processing
The performance of high-temperature solar reactors incorporating porous ceramic materials that serve as radiative absorbers and chemical reaction sites can be improved significantly by tailoring their pore structure. We investigated the changes in their effective heat and mass transport properties with increasing mass loading of porous ceramics fabricated by the replica method. We applied a methodology consisting of the experimental characterization of the structure via 3D tomographic techniques coupled to pore-level direct numerical simulations for the determination of the effective transport properties. This approach was extended by using digital image processing on the structure data to allow for artificial changes in the morphological characteristics – corresponding to actual variations in the fabrication process. We derived transport correlations of porous ceria foam with varying mass loading, i.e. reticulate to dense foams with porosity from 0.85 to 0.45. We observed that the correlations proposed in literature do not accurately describe the behavior of low-porosity foams. The numerical findings of this study provide guidance for pore-level engineering of materials used in solar reactors and other high-temperature heat and mass transfer applications.