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The Savannah River National Laboratory (SRNL), under the National Laboratory R&D competitive funding opportunity, collaborated with Curtin University (CU) to evaluate new metal hydride materials for thermal energy storage (TES) that meet the SunShot cost and performance targets for TES systems.

Because of their high energy capacity and reasonable kinetics, metal hydride systems offer many benefits for TES systems. Previous DOE and SRNL programs exploring metal hydrides for vehicle applications have demonstrated charging rates in minutes and tens of minutes as opposed to hours required for CSP (Concentrating Solar Power) systems. This coupled with high heats of reaction allow metal hydride TES systems to produce very high thermal power rates.   




A unique approach was applied to this project that made use of the hierarchal modeling methodology developed by SRNL. This approach combined our modeling experience with the extensive material knowledge and expertise at both SRNL and CU to screen promising metal hydride candidate materials and then select the best candidates for more thorough evaluation through experiments and more detailed models.  During this three-year project, a newly uncovered high temperature metal hydride was developed and characterized. A bench-scale, hydrogen cycling TES system was constructed and tested as a proof of concept for this technology. In addition, this research project integrated the experimental results into a design of a metal hydride energy storage system focused at demonstrating the technology and development of a material capable of meeting the SunShot cost and performance targets for TES systems. The development of this technology allows CSP systems to further expand their role in the renewable energy marketplace. 


SRNL and its partner CU have proposed and demonstrated the viability of employing metal hydrides for storing thermal energy for CSP applications. Initial material characterization and screening analysis showed that while many existing material candidates could meet many of DOE’s SunShot TES targets, none of the existing materials could meet all of the DOE targets, specifically low system costs at high temperatures. SRNL and CU began an aggressive program to identify materials that could be modified to enhance their operating temperature but still be low cost. This program led to several promising new candidate materials, one in particular based on Ca-Si was patented by SRNL for this application and shown to operate at very high temperatures (>700°C) and still have low cost. The engineering properties of this material were obtained and then employed in a series of screening, transport and system models to evaluate the performance and cost of this new material for TES applications.  

Publications, Patents, and Awards

  • C. Corgnale, B. Hardy, T. Motyka, R. Zidan, J. Teprovich, B. Peters “Screening Analysis of Metal Hydride Based Thermal Energy Storage Systems for Concentrating Solar Power Plants,” Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews,38,2014,821-833.
  • D. Sheppard, C. Corgnale, B. Hardy, T. Motyka, R. Zidan, M. Paskevicious, C. Buckley “Hydriding characteristics of NaMgH2F with preliminary technical and cost evaluation of magnesium-based metal hydride materials for concentrating solar power thermal storage” RSC Advances,51(4),2014,26552-62.
  • P. Ward, C. Corgnale, J. Teprovich, B. Hardy, T. Motyka, B. Peters, R. Zidan “High performance metal hydride material based thermal energy storage systems for concentrating solar power plants” Journal of Alloys and Compounds, 645 (1), 2015, S374-S378.
  • P. Ward, et al “Technical challenges and future direction for high efficiency metal hydride thermal energy storage systems” Applied Physics A (2016) 122:462 DOI 10.1007/s00339-016-9909-x.
  • D. Sheppard, et al “Metal hydrides for concentrating solar-thermal power energy storage” Applied Physics A, 122(4), (2016) 122:395 DOI 10.1007/s00339-016-9825-0.
  • R. Zidan, “Storing High Exergetic Thermal Energy Based on Reversible Alloying and High Enthalpy Hydrides”, Patent Disclosure No. SRS-14-021, Provisional Patent Number 62/087,939 filed on 12/5/2014. 

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