Rutgers Energy Institute (REI) has partnered with global institutions and industry leaders under the sponsorship of the Solar Fuels Institute (SOFI) to build a modular solar fuel station (mSFS) capable of producing a liquid fuel using only sunlight, water, and carbon dioxide. mSFS will be designed so that the subcomponents (energy/heat source, hydrogen source, water treatment, CO2 capture method and final hydrocarbon product) can evolve, merge, or be replaced by new breakthrough technologies.
The mSFS will currently use concentrated solar photovoltaics to generate the electrical and thermal energy needed to split water into its elements using two technologies developed at Rutgers. It will convert the hydrogen together with CO2 into a liquid fuel using new technologies under investigation in several institutions.
DOE has provided funding to scale up the synthesis of one of the catalysts (for O2 evolution from water). A Rutgers alumni family, the Pray Family Fund, has provided funding to help design and build a robust electrolyzer that can operate in a mobile environment and be safe for demonstrations. The design and fabrication will be undertaken in partnership with an electrolyzer manufacturer Proton Onsite (POS*).
Ultimately, mSFS will showcase several solar fuel technologies, while engaging Rutgers students with external collaborations from international and industrial partners. With SOFI’s global reach and access to corporate sponsorship, the Rutgers Energy Institute hopes to direct the attention of prospective students, global funding agencies, and politicians to emerging technologies for clean fuels from renewable resources as alternative to fossil fuels.