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Integration of solar thermal technologies into superheated steam processing in northern climates: A review

Published by the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers, St. Joseph, Michigan

Citation:  Paper number  SD14-053,  ASABE/CSBE North Central Intersectional Meeting. (doi: 10.13031/sd14053) @2014
Authors:   Dave Barchyn, Stefan Cenkowski, Kris Dick
Keywords:   solar thermal, superheated steam, northern climate, renewable energy, processing

Abstract. Increasing costs of both energy and the fossil fuels from which it is derived, compounded by the environmental concerns surrounding the combustion of petrochemicals has spurred interest in the development and implementation of renewable energy resources. Solar energy is the most abundant renewable resource, but due to technological constraints, has yet to be exploited to a large degree. While methods of direct conversion to electricity have reached experimental efficiencies of 38.8%, commercially available photovoltaic technology is limited to the range of 15%. Conversely, solar thermal conversion technologies have been shown to operate at efficiencies in excess of 80% at varying temperature differentials. For processes such as superheated steam generation, solar thermal technology can provide a reduction in both energy costs and greenhouse gas emissions. Superheated steam (SS) is a valuable process medium, both for its capacity to carry energy and to remove moisture from biological materials and has theoretical applications in lignocellulosic biomass pretreatment, potentially shifting the energy balance in favor of second-generation biofuels. Of the existing technologies for collection of solar thermal energy, the best-suited for implementation into a SS process stream are evacuated tube collectors and solar trough collectors due to their capacity to operate at high enough temperature differentials to produce SS of suitable quality. This paper provides an evaluation of existing solar thermal technologies for their applications in SS generation based on the solar climate in Winnipeg, Manitoba.

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