Project Name: Development of High-Temperature Molten Salt Pump Technology for Gen3 Solar Power Tower Systems
Funding Opportunity: Generation 3 Concentrating Solar Power Systems
SETO Subprogram: Concentrating Solar Power
Location: Colchester, VT
SETO Award Amount: $1,989,455
Awardee Cost Share: $497,540
Principal Investigator: Keith Oldinski

This project team will develop and test a new bearing for concentrating solar-thermal power (CSP) plants that can tolerate exposure to molten salt at 750° Celsius. These bearings will be integrated into a pump that can operate under those conditions. The team will develop two pump designs to meet the temperature and environment requirements of the hot and cold pumps required for this project. Under Topic 2 of this funding program, this project will help inform the design and development of high-temperature, low-cost CSP systems.


The team will partner with Oak Ridge National Laboratory to test the materials and the bearing, and then will work to develop the pump. They will test several bearing materials with a pin-on-disc tribometer, a machine that performs simulations of friction, wear, and mechanical force to determine material durability, and then determine the top performers. Then the team will conduct design and analysis activities for the hot and cold pumps using ceramics and high-nickel alloys.


This project aims to qualify a new bearing that can support CSP system components in molten salt environments. The results of this project will help make high-temperature chloride salt pumps more reliable and last longer, since molten salt gets pushed out of the pump to either the receiver or the power cycle to generate steam. This new bearing and pump designs will improve the design of future advanced CSP plants.