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Concentrating Solar Power: Efficiently Leveraging Equilibrium Mechanisms for Engineering New Thermochemical Storage

Concentrating Solar Power: Efficiently Leveraging Equilibrium Mechanisms for Engineering New Thermochemical Storage

The Concentrating Solar Power: Efficiently Leveraging Equilibrium Mechanisms for Engineering New Thermochemical Storage (CSP: ELEMENTS) funding program supports the development of thermochemical energy storage (TCES) systems that can validate a cost of less than or equal to $15 per kilowatt-hour-thermal (kWht) and operate at temperatures greater than or equal to 650 degrees Celsius. TCES presents opportunities for storing the sun's energy at high densities in the form of chemical bonds for use in utility-scale concentrating solar power (CSP) electricity generation. The SunShot Initiative funds six awardees for $10 million total for ELEMENTS.

Read the CSP: ELEMENTS press release and learn more about the SunShot Initiative’s other CSP competitive award programs.

Awardees

Colorado School of Mines
  • Location: Golden, CO
  • SunShot Award Amount: $1,008,511
  • Awardee Cost Share: $306,110
  • Project Summary: This project will explore how changing the chemical make-up of sand-like particles called perovskites can reduce the cost of the particles without destroying the usefulness of the perovskite chemical reaction responsible for storing the sun’s energy. These newly designed sand-like particles, or perovskites, will be tested at high temperatures using concentrated solar power to prove their usefulness as thermochemical energy storage materials. This project builds upon strategies to efficiently heat sand-like particles that were devised by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, as well as expertise at both the Colorado School of Mines and Abengoa Solar.
Pacific Northwest National Laboratory
  • Location: Richland, WA
  • SunShot Award Amount: $2,906,415
  • Awardee Cost Share: $742,549
  • Project Summary: This project uses a high-temperature metal hydride bed to capture the sun’s heat at or above 650°C and a second metal hydride bed to store the hydrogen gas released by the heat capture process. The second hydride bed operates near room temperature. The pairing of the two high and low temperature hydride beds enables hydrogen gas storage at low pressures, reducing costs to a level unachievable by current gas storage methods. This solution will enable solar power generation for extended periods of time.
Sandia National Laboratories
  • Location: Albuquerque, NM
  • SunShot Award Amount: $3,450,000
  • Awardee Cost Share: $909,793
  • Project Summary: This project seeks to design a system that concentrates sunlight onto a falling curtain of sand-like particles called perovskites. The perovskites heat up and undergo a chemical reaction. The chemical reaction captures the sun’s energy and the perovskites are stored until the sun goes down. The pervoskites are then re-exposed to air, reversing the chemical reaction and releasing the sun’s heat for use in a very efficient Air-Brayton electric power generation system. The project evaluates how effective the chemical reaction is through a test of a 100 kilowatt hour-thermal thermochemical energy storage system.
Southern Research Institute
  • Location: Birmingham, AL
  • SunShot Award Amount: $836,697
  • Awardee Cost Share: $209,175
  • Project Summary: This project seeks to develop a thermochemical energy storage system (TCES) that uses low-cost calcium carbonate and silicate materials in an endothermic-exothermic chemical reaction cycle. The cycle stores energy during the endothermic step and releases energy during the exothermic step, both of which proceed at temperatures at or above 650°C. This work advances the proposed technology readiness level of the TCES system by demonstrating the system’s key advantages, including its high efficiencies and its potential to meet a cost target of $15 per kilowatt hour-thermal.
University of Florida
  • Location: Gainesville, FL
  • SunShot Award Amount: $791,200
  • Awardee Cost Share: $197,800
  • Project Summary: This project employs strontium carbonate and high temperature concentrated solar power in an endothermic-exothermic chemical reaction cycle to provide around-the-clock energy. This project uses inexpensive, safe, non-corrosive chemicals. During no-sunlight periods, solar heat can be released at temperatures previously unachievable with other carbonate-based thermochemical energy storage systems.
University of California, Los Angeles
  • Location: Los Angeles, CA
  • SunShot Award Amount: $1,182,788
  • Awardee Cost Share: $295,800
  • Project Summary: This project seeks to leverage the well-understood ammonia synthesis reaction and apply it to solar thermochemical storage. The project seeks to optimize the synthesis reactor and associated heat exchanger to prove that the ammonia synthesis reaction can be used to directly generate supercritical steam at 650°C, a feat not yet proven.

Learn about SunShot's other CSP competitive award programs