Solar Thermochemical Advanced Reactor System, or STARS, converts a record-setting 70 percent of solar energy into chemical energy- that can be used for transportation or to produce electricity. Concentrated sunlight heats natural gas or other chemicals in a specialized reactor and heat exchanger made up of tiny channels that hold a catalyst. This converts the gas into a more energy-rich fuel, which can reduce carbon emissions by as much as 40 percent, while producing valuable compounds like methanol and hydrogen. The Richland-based spinoff company that licensed the technology, STARS Technology Corporation-or STC, is made up of three former PNNL employees, as well as their long-time industry mentor. The STC principals were participants in DOE’s inaugural Energy I-Corps, a two-month business training program-where they graduated best in class and transferred the knowledge gained into formation of their company.
The STARS team includes: Bob Wegeng, Derek Maughan, Bruce Harrer, Charles Freeman, Ron Thomas, former PNNL staff members Chris Klasen and Daryl Brown, who are now with STC, Peter Brehm of STC and Ron Kent of Southern California Gas.