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Advanced materials solutions for next generation high efficiency concentrated solar power (CSP) tower systems
Abstract Solar towers are atmospheric-air CSP systems that represent the best short-term option for large scale power generaton. To make them competitive, new materials are needed in order to increase durability and maximum working temperature.
Large_Description NEXTOWER shall introduce a set of innovative materials to boost the performance of atmospheric air-based concentrated solar power (CSP) systems to make them commercially viable. In particular, tower systems are appealing for the great environmental compatibility and offer tremendous potential for efficient (electrical and thermal) power generation. Yet, their industrial exploitation has been so far hindered by limitations in the materials used both for the central receiver - the core component - and for thermal storage. Such limitations dictate maximum working temperature and in-service overall durability (mainly driven by failure from thermal cycling and thermal shocks). Improving the efficiency of a tower system entails necessarily improving the central receiver upstream and possibly re-engineering the whole systems downstream to work longer and at much higher temperature, especially in the thermal storage compartment.
NEXTOWER will address this need by taking a comprehensive conceptual and manufacturing approach that will optimize bulk and joining materials for durability at the component level to achieve 25 years of maintenance-free continued service of the receiver and maximum thermodynamic efficiency at the system level. This is made possible through a unique combination of excellence in materials design and manufacturing, CSP full-scale testing facilities brought together in the Consortium, supporting the making of a new full scale demo SOLEAD (in Spain) within the project. The successful achievement of a new generation of materials allowing for virtually maintenance free operations and increased working temperature shall result in the next-generation of air-coolant CSP highly competitive over other CSP alternatives and sustainable power supply options.
start_date 01/01/2017
end_date 31/12/2020
achievements - Design and development of solar receivers atmospheric-air CSP systems (large-scale): new tough and highly thermally conductive ceramic receivers to work at a maximum materials temperature of 800 C (600 C air temperature) under extreme thermal cycling without failure, thus insuring over 20 years of continued operations of the receiver in large CSP plants (>5MWe) - Design and development of optimized thermal storage: coupling the improved solar receiver systems with new storage systems with improved efficiency, life cycle and cost savings at higher temperature levels (600-800 C), industrially relevant to the large systems in the scope of NEXTOWER. Innovative high-capacity, high-efficiency lead-based liquid metal storage systems will be addressed through a proprietary (alumina forming) steel dual-tube technology to overcome corrosion issues. As part of the study, one of the most critical components required to couple a liquid lead storage system with an air-based CSP plant (i.e. the primary air-lead heat exchanger) will also be designed and tested under actual operating conditions - Proving long term operations: stress tests in accelerating conditions using state-of-the-art facilities and multi-scale modeling to prove durability of the receivers over 25 years, in response to the SET-PLAN demand for rapid uptake of the technology by industry
innovation Solar towers are atmospheric-air CSP systems that represent the best short-term option for large scale power generaton. To make them competitive, new materials are needed to meet requirements in the following critical aspects:
- High temperature receivers (durability & emissivity)
- Thermal fatigue and thermal shock (especially in joints)
- Thermal storage by liquid metals, e.g. lead-based systems (corrosion issues, efficiency and max working temperature)Thermal fatigue and thermal shock (especially in joints)
Development_Status In Progress
Funding European
S3 Area Building  Traiectory Altro orientamento tematico
Platform Energy and Environment
Project_Type INN
Research Unit Name Laboratory Role
HPC-LAB Unità Operativa High Performance Computing Home page CROSS-TEC laboratory (ICT and ENERGY) Partner

Related research topics
Code Topic Description
3.6 HPC-Big Data High Performance computing - big data
1.1 Renewable energy sources Renewable energy sources

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