The feasibility of a solar-driven chemical looping dry reforming of methane (DRM) process, which converts solar energy and methane into syngas via a looping material oxygen carrier is investigated experimentally. Thermogravimetric analysis (TGA) experiments were firstly carried out to verify the effect of the Rh-doped LaCeO3.5 which were synthesized via modified Pechini method and incipient wetness method and the result shows that Rh greatly improved the reaction kinetics. Photo-TGA experiments were conducted to evaluate the light effect in chemical looping DRM. Under the light condition, the Rh-doped LaCeO3.5 shows higher methane conversion, oxygen extraction rate and CO selectivity compared with the undoped one, decreasing the apparent activation energy of the reaction at the same time. Insights obtained from the UV-Vis spectroscopy verified that the surface Rh under the light could promote the activation of surface methane species and increase the light absorbance. Through the integration of solar energy, a high methane to solar fuel conversion efficiency could be achieved. The proposed process has the potential to produce solar fuels at high efficiency with reduced carbon footprint.
Keywords Methane dry reforming, Photo-enhanced thermochemistry, photothermal synergy, UV-Vis spectroscopy