Despite the significant potential of solar thermochemical process technology for storing solar energy as solid-state solar fuel, several challenges have made its industrial application difficult. It is important to note that solar energy has a transient nature that causes instability and reduces process efficiency. Therefore, it is crucial to implement a robust control system to regulate the process temperature and tackle the shortage of incoming solar energy during cloudy weather. In our previous works, different model-based control strategies were developed namely a Proportional Integral Derivative controller (PID) with gain scheduling and adaptive Model Predictive Control (MPC). These methods were tested numerically to regulate the temperature inside a high temperature tubular solar reactor. In this work, the proposed control strategies were experimentally tested under various operation conditions. The controllers were challenged to track different setpoints (500°C, 1000°C, and 1450°C) with different amounts of gas/particles flowrates. Additionally, the flow controller was tested to regulate the reactor temperature under a cloudy weather scenario. The ultimate goal was to produced 5 kg of reduced solar fuel magnesium manganese oxide (MgMn2O4) successfully, and the controllers were able to track the required process temperature and reject disturbances despite the system’s strong nonlinearity. The experimental results showed a maximum error in the temperature setpoint of less than 0.5% (6°C), and the MPC controller demonstrated superior performance in reducing the control effort and rejecting disturbances.

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