Home > Research > Projects > Innovative latent thermal energy storage system for concentrating solar power plants

Innovative latent thermal energy storage system for concentrating solar power plants

Contract with the company E.ON AG, framed by the International Research Initiative 2010.

Development of a new generation of heat-retaining materials to boost the performance of thermal energy stores is the new challenge of the project "Innovative latent thermal energy storage system for concentrating solar power plants", coordinated by the University of South Florida (USF) in collaboration with the Madrid Institute for Advanced Studies, IMDEA Energy, within the "International Research Initiative 2010 - IRI" funded by E.ON.

Solar energy is abundant but intermittent; therefore, employing an effective way to store it at high temperatures will improve the reliability and the capacity factor of a solar power plant. Current CSP technologies use sensible heat storage media that suffer from several limitations (like large operational temperature range and size).

The proposed project utilizes the latent heat of PCMs to store energy and employs techniques that can overcome the disadvantages associated with PCMs in a cost-effective way and can result in future electricity costs competitive with those of fossil fuels. This research addresses the fundamental and practical issues associated with encapsulation of high temperature (300 ºC to 400 ºC) PCMs such as salts and polymers using cost-effective techniques. Encapsulation of phase change materials will promote the heat transfer by increasing the surface area to volume ratio of PCMs. The goal of this research is to integrate the state-of-the-art techniques to develop the next generation high temperature, low-cost encapsulated PCMs with larger heat capacity than any of the currently available/used PCMs at the desired temperature range.

The proposed Thermal Energy Storage (TES) system will allow us to increase the capacity factor of a CSP plant to 75% or more and reduce the TES system costs to less than 3.7€/kWhth as compared to the current costs of more than 20 €/kWhth for 12 hours of storage

Partners: University of South Florida (Coordinator); IMDEA Energy Institute
Funding Institution/Program: E.ON AG/Announcement: “Heat Storage for Concentrating Solar Power”. E.ON International Research Initiative 2010
Period: January 2011-December 2013
Principal researcher: Manuel Romero