A very promising method for the conversion and storage of solar energy into a fuel is the dissociation of water to oxygen and hydrogen, carried out via a two-step process using metal oxide redox systems such as mixed iron oxides, coated upon multi-channeled honeycomb ceramic supports capable of absorbing solar irradiation, in a configuration similar to that encountered in automobile exhaust catalytic converters. With this configuration, the whole process can be carried out in a single solar energy converter, the process temperature can be significantly lowered compared to other thermo-chemical cycles and the re-combination of oxygen and hydrogen is prevented by fixing the oxygen in the metal oxide. For the realization of the integrated concept, research work proceeded in three parallel directions: synthesis of active redox systems, manufacture of ceramic honeycomb supports and manufacture, testing and optimization of operating conditions of a thermochemical solar receiver-reactor. The receiver-reactor has been developed and installed in the solar furnace in Cologne, Germany. It was proven that solar hydrogen production is feasible by this process demonstrating that multi cycling of the process was possible in principle.

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