This summer has been very productive for Alex Grant, a Northwestern Engineering Graduate Student working on the catalytic conversion phase of the SOFI Demonstration Project. Alex has planned, sourced, and is assembling all the parts and pieces of Phase 1 of the SOFI Demo Project. Within the next couple weeks, Alex should be able to produce methanol from carbon dioxide (CO2) and hydrogen (H2).
This first phase is using compressed purified gases from cylinders, a common practice for testing catalytic processes. While common, the process is still dangerous and Alex is taking precautions to ensure the tests go safely and smoothly.
Once the current version of Phase 1 is verified, we will move to Phase 2. Phase 2 of the SOFI Demo Project involves sourcing the H2 directly from a commercial electrolyzer. While we will need to adjust for the pressure difference of an electrolyzer output vs a cylinder of compressed gas, moving on to incorporating a water electrolysis unit puts SOFI closer to the fully assembled SOFI Demo Project and closer to reporting real time metrics and values for solar methanol production.
Stay tuned to the SOFI Blog to see pictures and an update once Alex starts collecting the drips of methanol!