Solar Thermochemical Fuels Production

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Minneapolis, Minnesota
Project Term:
12/19/2011 - 06/18/2015

Technology Description:

The University of Minnesota (UMN) is developing a solar thermochemical reactor that will efficiently produce fuel from sunlight, using solar energy to produce heat to break chemical bonds. UMN envisions producing the fuel by using partial redox cycles and ceria-based reactive materials. The team will achieve unprecedented solar-to-fuel conversion efficiencies of more than 10% (where current state-of-the-art efficiency is 1%) by combined efforts and innovations in material development, and reactor design with effective heat recovery mechanisms and demonstration. This new technology will allow for the effective use of vast domestic solar resources to produce precursors to synthetic fuels that could replace gasoline.

Potential Impact:

If successful, UMN's solar thermochemical reactor and supporting processes would help the U.S. create a sustainable, domestic fuel supply that produces fewer greenhouse gases than gasoline.


Greater use of thermal fuels would reduce U.S. reliance on fossil fuels—strengthening America's energy security.


Thermal fuel technologies will have zero net greenhouse gas emissions and can also reduce fossil fuel consumption—helping curb production of CO2 emissions that contribute to global climate change, while enabling the development of transformational technologies for a range of applications.


Thermal fuels could decrease the dependence on foreign oil imports, spurring economic growth in new thermal fuel-related industries in the U.S.


ARPA-E Program Director:
Dr. James Klausner
Project Contact:
Jane Davidson
Press and General Inquiries Email:
Project Contact Email:


Sciogen Holdings Inc.
Solar Fuel Corporation
California Institute of Technology

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