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Project Name: Creep-Fatigue Behavior and Damage Accumulation of a Candidate Structural Material for CSP Solar Thermal Receiver
Funding Opportunity: Generation 3 Concentrating Solar Power Systems Lab Call
SETO Subprogram: Concentrating Solar-Thermal Power
Location: Idaho Falls, ID
SETO Award Amount: $1,000,000
Awardee Cost Share: N/A

This project will produce models of nickel-based alloys used to build Generation 3 concentrating solar power (Gen3 CSP) receivers to ensure that they can withstand high CSP plant operating temperatures and daily temperature fluctuations. High heat and rapidly changing temperatures from passing clouds and the day-night cycle tend to weaken the materials. This project team will use the mathematical models that their experiments generate to evaluate new CSP plant materials that can withstand these conditions.

A component loaded in a furnace with thermocouple wires
A component loaded in a furnace with thermocouple wires on the left to measure temperature and an extensometer on the right to measure strain. Photo courtesy of Idaho National Laboratory.


This team will expose promising strong alloys to high temperatures and strain to measure their creep properties, or the extent to which the metal deforms from constant stress; their fatigue, or the deformation that occurs when a material is repeatedly placed under stress and then relaxed; and a combination of the two. These tests will fill gaps in the existing data and enable researchers to construct models that describe how materials are expected to respond to stress under different temperatures. These design curves—the models and the measurements that validate them—will be created based on standards used by the American Society of Mechanical Engineers in the Boiler and Pressure Vessel Code.


The new design curves will help engineers understand how materials in Gen3 CSP plants respond to high-temperature cycles and allow them to design components that operate safely, without breaking or failing prematurely. Without this information, engineers would design extra-thick components as a safety measure, but the data from these models will enable them to design components that are just as thick as they need to be, saving material and construction costs.