Seminar - 02212013

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The Storage and Utilization of Solar Thermal Energy: Central Receivers for Solar Fuel Production

February 21, 2013
Glasgow 102

Prof. Nathan P. Siegel

Assistant Professor
Mechanical Engineering Department 
Bucknell University 


Solar energy is the only persistent energy resource available on Earth. Every day, the amount of energy delivered from the sun to the Earth far exceeds primary energy consumption. The intent of this seminar is to provide an introduction to solar thermal energy conversion and storage technologies, and to present some of the information and tools needed to assess the feasibility of solar-based energy solutions for different applications. The speaker will begin with a general discussion of energy usage at the utility scale, followed by an assessment of solar resource availability in the United States and abroad. Then, he will introduce several solar conversion and storage technologies that are either currently in use or in development. The emphasis here will be on solar thermal energy conversion, although photovoltaic energy conversion will be discussed as well. Some of these technologies will be compared on the basis of technical performance for different applications. The technical comparison, in this case, results from a system level analysis that accounts for all major energy losses in the solar collection, conversion, and storage systems. The framework of this analysis, associated resources and tools, and its application, will be discussed as well. Finally, he will close with an overview of likely near term solar energy research directions.


Dr. Nathan Siegel has been an Assistant Professor of Mechanical Engineering at Bucknell University since August of 2011. He teaches courses in the thermal sciences including fluid mechanics and heat transfer as well as an upper division elective in solar thermal technology. Prior to joining the Faculty at Bucknell University, Dr. Siegel was a Principal Member of the Technical Staff at Sandia National Laboratories, where he worked from 2004-2011. While at Sandia Dr. Siegel led several projects related to solar thermochemical fuel production and thermal energy storage, including Sandia's Sunshine to Petrol (S2P) Project, the intent of which was to demonstrate the technical and economic feasibility of the solar thermal production liquid hydrocarbon fuels. Dr. Siegel attended and presented a poster at the 2012 German-American Frontiers of Engineering Conference, jointly sponsored by the National Academy of Engineering and the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation.


Dr. Daniel A. Nussbaum
Naval Postgraduate School 
Principal, Energy Academic Group
Monterey CA 93943
Phone: 831-656-2387
Mobile: 831-324-3228

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