Project Name: Ceramic Castable Cement Tanks and Piping for Molten Salt
Funding Opportunity: Generation 3 Concentrating Solar Power Systems
SETO Subprogram: Concentrating Solar Power
Location: Cambridge, MA
SETO Award Amount: $1,771,864
Awardee Cost Share: $442,966
Principal Investigator: Asegun Henry

This project aims to reduce the cost of high-temperature molten salt concentrating solar power (CSP) systems by using ceramics instead of nickel-based alloys to form tanks and piping. The research team will use low-cost, castable cements that can be molded into desired shapes to form hot and cold storage tanks and pipe sections needed in CSP plants. Developing insulated walls for hot tanks using cements instead of alloys will reduce costs and extend the life of the components. This component-level design and testing will help inform the design and development of low-cost, high-temperature CSP plants under Topic 1 of this funding program.


This project aims to minimize molten chloride salt corrosion on castable cements used to make tanks and pipes in CSP plants. In collaboration with team members at Westmoreland Advanced Materials and Purdue University, MIT researchers will study the mechanisms that could degrade the material over time and perform corrosion and material-strength testing in order to optimize chemistry and microstructure of the cement. They will also construct test loops and evaluate its performance through flowing salt tests to ensure that no new corrosion mechanisms arise from the materials as they pass through the loops.


This project creates a path to low-cost thermal energy storage by using castable cements instead of metals to build tanks and piping in CSP plants. Cements perform better than nickel alloys and other metals because they are more rigid and resistant to corrosion and deformation from heat exposure. Furthermore, castable-cement piping for thermal insulation in the plant will also reduce the cost of plant infrastructure.