Emre Gençer, Caleb Miskin, Xingshu Sun, M. Ryyan Khan, Peter Bermel, M. Ashraf Alam & Rakesh Agrawal, (2017). Scientific Reports, doi:10.1038/s41598-017-03437-x.


As we approach a “Full Earth” of over ten billion people within the next century, unprecedented demands will be placed on food, energy and water (FEW) supplies. The grand challenge before us is to sustainably meet humanity’s FEW needs using scarcer resources. To overcome this challenge, we propose the utilization of the entire solar spectrum by redirecting solar photons to maximize FEW production from a given land area. We present novel solar spectrum unbundling FEW systems (SUFEWS), which can meet FEW needs locally while reducing the overall environmental impact of meeting these needs. The ability to meet FEW needs locally is critical, as significant population growth is expected in less-developed areas of the world. The proposed system presents a solution to harness the same amount of solar products (crops, electricity, and purified water) that could otherwise require ~60% more land if SUFEWS were not used—a major step for Full Earth preparedness.

Emre Gençer, Rakesh Agrawal, (2016). Energy Conversion and Management, doi:10.1016/j.enconman.2016.10.068.

Solar Water Power (SWP) Cycle
Solar Water Power (SWP) Cycle

Limited fossil fuel reserves and increasing greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuels make it essential to develop alternative renewable energy conversion processes to meet energy needs. Advancements in renewable power production are especially important since electric power is the largest consumer of primary energy resources with the highest growth rate among alternate energy use sectors, and is currently responsible for greater than 40% of the global CO2 emissions. Among the renewable energy sources, solar energy is prominent due to its abundance. Here, we introduce an efficient solar thermal power cycle, solar water power (SWP) cycle, with water as the working fluid, which undergoes reheats between expansions. SWP cycle is developed to maximize exergy efficiency, allow flexible operation and process intensification. Simulation and optimization of the SWP cycles are performed in an integrated Aspen Plus/MATLAB modeling environment. Modeling results predict that SWP cycle with 1 solar reheating stage has a potential to generate electricity with sun-to-electricity efficiencies greater than 30% at solar heat collection temperature as low as 750 K. The cycle also promises sun-to-electricity efficiencies in the unprecedented range of 40–46% for the corresponding temperatures above 1400 K. Further efficiency increase is estimated by the addition of more reheating stages.

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