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Title: Technical Performance of Refractory Liners for Molten Chloride Salt Thermal Energy Storage Systems

Conference ·
OSTI ID:1677472

A chloride-based molten-salt system that uses a ternary blend of MgCl2/KCl/NaCl is investigated to provide higher temperature thermal energy storage capability. Despite higher thermal stability, molten chlorides present several unique challenges, including the design of internal refractory-ceramic liners to prevent the corrosion and thermal stress of alloy tank shells. This work discusses issues and potential solutions related to containment of molten chloride salt, specifically the optimization of the refractory material at the molten salt interface (hot face). The down-selected hot face candidate limits permeation of salt through the material and forms a highly stable secondary surface phase in equilibrium with the molten salt. A mortar is created using the corrosion resistant hot face brick. Brick and mortar composite are subjected to mechanical stress/strain analysis, in order to calculate composite material properties and better inform thermomechanical models. The U.S. Department of Energy Generation 3 (DOE Gen3) program seeks to develop higher efficiency CSP plants that can provide cost-competitive, flexible power in the U.S. electric grid. The proposed Gen3 Liquid Pathway CSP plant closely resembles the configuration of current nitrate salt power towers with two-tank storage (Gen2). The differences between Gen2 and Gen3 include the types of compatible materials used in salt storage tank construction. Stainless steel loses strength at Gen3 temperatures, and although nickel superalloys would be capable of withstanding sustained high temperatures, these materials are prohibitively expensive at scale. Uninsulated tank shells also pose a significant risk as common steels are highly susceptible to chemical attack from molten chloride salt. To address these concerns, refractory-ceramic based containment materials are proposed to line the inside of the hot and cold storage tanks. In doing so, stainless or carbon steel shells may be used in construction depending on the level of insulation provided. The composition of the internal liner requires careful consideration to maximize the efficacy of multiple parameters including corrosion resistance, strength at operating temperature, durability, and cost. This is particularly true for the material at the interface with the salt, known as the "hot face", which is responsible for protecting the insulating layers between the tank shell and the hot face brick layer. The molten salt in this system is superheated over 300 °C above its freeze temperature. Therefore, unlike other industrial processes which use refractory-lined vessels, it is not expected that a freeze plane will develop in the hot face. Therefore, the hot face must be designed to withstand chemical corrosion and inhibit permeation of molten salt into the insulating layers. A down selection was performed to identify a hot face candidate best equipped to maintain thermal, mechanical, and chemical integrity when exposed to molten salt over extended periods of time. Long-duration chemical capability experiments were conducted with the down selected hot face refractory fully immersed in molten chloride salt for up to 3000 hours. The average salt penetration does not exceed 100 microns. When extrapolated to 20 and 30 years of continuous exposure, the expected salt penetration depth is approximately 2.0 mm and 2.9 mm, respectively. A magnesium-rich secondary phases develops at the salt/refractory interface. X-ray diffraction identifies the material as forsterite (Mg2SiO4), which is reported to form synthetically in molten chloride salt solutions. These results suggest the selected hot face will adequately inhibit salt permeation. While there is optimism that the hot face brick will inhibit salt permeation, mortar joints are typically the weakest point of a refractory brick liner. From a thermochemical perspective, differing thermal expansion coefficients may result in the mortar and brick to grow independent of each other, creating gaps through which molten salt can penetrate. To address this issue, NREL has developed an in-house mortar composed of the down selected hot face brick that has been shown to be compatible with the salt. Compressive stress/strain analyses have been performed on the brick/ mortar composites to generate stress/strain curves. Modulus of elasticity and Poisson's ratio of the composite may be calculated from the stress/strain curves, in order to provide more representative data to finite element mechanical models for accurate approximation of stress on the tank shell and the amount of thermal expansion expected within the tank liner.

Research Organization:
National Renewable Energy Lab. (NREL), Golden, CO (United States)
Sponsoring Organization:
USDOE Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE), Renewable Power Office. Solar Energy Technologies Office
DOE Contract Number:
Report Number(s):
NREL/PR-5700-77846; MainId:30761; UUID:d8d7dab0-1ed1-4b74-99b4-13579d2936ad; MainAdminID:18670
Resource Relation:
Conference: Presented at SolarPACES 2020, 28 September - 2 October 2020
Country of Publication:
United States