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Title: Novel Molten Salts Thermal Energy Storage for Concentrating Solar Power Generation

The explicit UA program objective is to develop low melting point (LMP) molten salt thermal energy storage media with high thermal energy storage density for sensible heat storage systems. The novel Low Melting Point (LMP) molten salts are targeted to have the following characteristics: 1. Lower melting point (MP) compared to current salts (<222ºC) 2. Higher energy density compared to current salts (>300 MJ/m3) 3. Lower power generation cost compared to current salt In terms of lower power costs, the program target the DOE's Solar Energy Technologies Program year 2020 goal to create systems that have the potential to reduce the cost of Thermal Energy Storage (TES) to less than $15/kWh-th and achieve round trip efficiencies greater than 93%. The project has completed the experimental investigations to determine the thermo-physical, long term thermal stability properties of the LMP molten salts and also corrosion studies of stainless steel in the candidate LMP molten salts. Heat transfer and fluid dynamics modeling have been conducted to identify heat transfer geometry and relative costs for TES systems that would utilize the primary LMP molten salt candidates. The project also proposes heat transfer geometry with relevant modifications to suit the usage of our molten saltsmore » as thermal energy storage and heat transfer fluids. The essential properties of the down-selected novel LMP molten salts to be considered for thermal storage in solar energy applications were experimentally determined, including melting point, heat capacity, thermal stability, density, viscosity, thermal conductivity, vapor pressure, and corrosion resistance of SS 316. The thermodynamic modeling was conducted to determine potential high temperature stable molten salt mixtures that have thermal stability up to 1000 °C. The thermo-physical properties of select potential high temperature stable (HMP) molten salt mixtures were also experimentally determined. All the salt mixtures align with the go/no-go goals stipulated by the DOE for this project. Energy densities of all salt mixtures were higher than that of the current solar salt. The salt mixtures costs have been estimated and TES system costs for a 2 tank, direct approach have been estimated for each of these materials. All estimated costs are significantly below the baseline system that used solar salt. These lower melt point salts offer significantly higher energy density per volume than solar salt – and therefore attractively smaller inventory and equipment costs. Moreover, a new TES system geometry has been recommended A variety of approaches were evaluated to use the low melting point molten salt. Two novel changes are recommended that 1) use the salt as a HTF through the solar trough field, and 2) use the salt to not only create steam but also to preheat the condensed feedwater for Rankine cycle. The two changes enable the powerblock to operate at 500°C, rather than the current 400°C obtainable using oil as the HTF. Secondly, the use of salt to preheat the feedwater eliminates the need to extract steam from the low pressure turbine for that purpose. Together, these changes result in a dramatic 63% reduction required for 6 hour salt inventory, a 72% reduction in storage volume, and a 24% reduction in steam flow rate in the power block. Round trip efficiency for the Case 5 - 2 tank “direct” system is estimated at >97%, with only small losses from time under storage and heat exchange, and meeting RFP goals. This attractive efficiency is available because the major heat loss experienced in a 2 tank “indirect” system - losses by transferring the thermal energy from oil HTF to the salt storage material and back to oil to run the steam generator at night - is not present for the 2 tank direct system. The higher heat capacity values for both LMP and HMP systems enable larger storage capacities for concentrating solar power.« less
  1. The University of Alabama
Publication Date:
OSTI Identifier:
Report Number(s):
Technical Report
DOE Contract Number:
Resource Type:
Technical Report
Research Org:
The University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa
Sponsoring Org:
Country of Publication:
United States
25 ENERGY STORAGE Molten Salts, Thermal Energy storage materials, Thermodynamic properties