SCIENCE CHINA Technological Sciences, Volume 61 , Issue 12 : 1779-1787(2018) https://doi.org/10.1007/s11431-017-9275-1

Thermodynamic assessment of solar-aided carbon dioxide conversion into fuels via Tin oxides

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  • ReceivedAug 11, 2017
  • AcceptedMay 2, 2018
  • PublishedOct 18, 2018


The conversion of CO2 to liquid hydrocarbon fuels using solar energy is gaining attraction as a means to deal with climate change and energy depletion, and assessment for related thermochemical cycles has attracted great interests in recent years. Here, we perform the thermodynamical analysis on solar-aided CO2 conversion reactions based on Tin oxides. The equilibrium compositions, production purity and CO2 conversion are obtained. Also, the variations of conversion efficiency with respect to temperature, normal beam solar insolation, mean flux concentration ratio, initial CO2 to SnO ratio and heat recuperation percentage are revealed. Our results indicate the initial CO2 to SnO ratio, χini, has an evident impact on conversion efficiency and χini=0.5, T=700 K and χini=1, T=950 K, are favourable for solid C and gaseous CO production, respectively. The calculated maximum cycle efficiency with direct work production is 0.340 at T=950 K and χini=1, demonstrating the high conversion efficiency of the proposed system.

Funded by

the National Natural Science Foundation of China(Grant,No.,51476163)

Institute of Electrical Engineering

Chinese Academy of Sciences(Grant,No.,Y770111CSC)


This work was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Grant No. 51476163), and the Institute of Electrical Engineering, Chinese Academy of Sciences (Grant No. Y770111CSC). The authors would like to thank Prof. XIAO LiYe for his support of this research direction.


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  • Figure 1

    The process flow diagram for solar-aided thermochemical CO2 splitting based on SnO2/SnO system. Solid arrows indicate material flow whereas dashed arrows indicate the energy/work flow. The temperature is labelled by T, which is given behind the symbol “@”.

  • Figure 2

    (Color online) Gibbs free energy change (ΔG) as a function of temperature for the SnO2→SnO+0.5O2 and SnO→Sn+0.5O2 reactions at 1 bar.

  • Figure 3

    (Color online) Evolution of the equilibrium compositions related to SnO2, SnO and Sn at thermal reduction step.

  • Figure 4

    (Color online) Evolution of the ΔH, ΔG, and TΔS related to SnO+CO2→SnO2+CO (solid line) and SnO+0.5CO2→SnO2+0.5C (dot line) reactions.

  • Figure 5

    (Color online) Variations of equilibrium composition with temperature at (a) χini =1; (b) χini =0.75; (c) χini =0.5, where χini denotes the initial CO2 to SnO ratio and the initial amount of SnO is 1 mol.

  • Figure 6

    (Color online) Purity of production in solid phase and gas phase, as a function of oxidation temperature and initial ratio (χini).

  • Figure 7

    (Color online) The conversion ratio of CO2 (a) and SnO (b) as a function of oxidation temperature and initial ratio (χini).

  • Figure 8

    (Color online) Cycle efficiency as functions of mean flux concentration ratio (C), and normal beam solar insolation (I). The efficiencies are calculated by using eqs. (3), (11), (18). The oxidation temperature is 700 K, and the initial CO2 to SnO ratio is 0.5.

  • Figure 9

    (Color online) Cycle efficiency as a function of oxidation temperature at χini=1. The effective percentages of heat recuperation, HR=0, 10%, 20%, 30%, 40%, 50% are shown together for comparison. Cycle efficiencies are calculated by using eq. (18).

  • Figure 10

    (Color online) Cycle efficiency and solar-to-fuel efficiency as functions of oxidation temperature and χini, with direct work production (maximum work available), heat recuperation (HR=50%) and without heat recuperation. The efficiencies are calculated by using eqs. (18)(24).

  • Figure 11

    (Color online) Irreversibility of each module varies with oxidation temperature when χini =0.5 and TH=2380 K.

  • Table 1   Nomenclature of main parameters





    Mean flux concentration ratio



    Normal beam solar insolation



    Stefan-Boltzmann constant, 5.67×10–8

    W/(m2 K4)


    Ambient temperature



    TR reaction temperature



    GS reaction temperature



    Solar energy required for solar reactor per second



    Re-radiation losses from solar reactor per second



    Heat energy released in GS reaction per second



    Heat energy released in purification device



    Maximum work available per second



    Irreversibility of the module per second






    Enthalpy change



    Entropy change

    kJ/(K mol)


    Mole flow rate



    Specific heat capacity

    J/(mol K)


    High heating value



    Initial CO2 to SnO ratio



    Heat recuperation percentage


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