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Project Name: Improving Economics of Generation 3 CSP System Components through Fabrication and Application of High-Temperature Nickel-Based Alloys
Funding Opportunity: Generation 3 Concentrating Solar Power Systems
SETO Subprogram: Concentrating Solar Power
Location: Charlotte, NC
SETO Award Amount: $1,499,901
Awardee Cost Share:  $222,229
Principal Investigator: John Shingledecker

This project aims to lower the cost of critical Generation 3 (Gen3) components in concentrating solar-thermal power (CSP) plants by developing new manufacturing methods for nickel-based alloys. CSP components such as receivers, piping, and heat exchangers that are made of strong nickel-based alloys could extend the life of a high-temperature CSP plant regardless of whether the system uses molten salt, gas, or solid particles. The team will examine the cost and performance advantages of manufacturing components in different forms, like flat sheets and tubes. This applied research and development project on support testing for Gen3 CSP systems is responsive to Topic 2B of this funding program.

APPROACH

To develop the new manufacturing methods, the project team will quantify the performance of the nickel-based alloys and their economic benefits through fabrication tests and mechanical property studies that involve exposure to high temperatures. The team is focusing on Alloy 740H because it is the highest-strength alloy available for construction that meets standard industry code approval by the American Society of Mechanical Engineers Boiler and Pressure Vessel Code. The team will also seek code approval of its advanced low-cost fabrication methods, which will include fabricating welding tubes and pipes for use in CSP plants. The team will work with all of the Gen3 pathway teams and component developers to address the challenges of using high-temperature materials.

INNOVATIONS

This project aims to create nickel-based alloy components—as well as the associated data and materials models—that all Gen3 CSP system designers could use. This project will address the behavior of materials fabricated with new manufacturing methods, in high-temperature, time-dependent environments, evaluating for creep, fatigue, and tensile strength, because they are subject to weakening and breakage the longer they are exposed to system conditions. The team aims to reduce overall system costs by at least 30% when using nickel-based alloys compared to current state of the art.