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Project Name: High-Temperature Pumps and Valves for Molten Salt
Funding Opportunity: Generation 3 Concentrating Solar Power Systems
SETO Subprogram: Concentrating Solar Power
Location: Cambridge, MA
SETO Award Amount: $1,932,313
Awardee Cost Share: $483,078
Principal Investigator: Asegun Henry

This project will use ceramic-rich composites and other refractory materials instead of metal to make pumps and valves for high-temperature molten chloride salt concentrating solar-thermal power (CSP) systems. Refractory materials have greater resistance to salt corrosion and heat degradation than conventional metals do, so their use could increase the durability of CSP system components. The team will test how these components behave in both liquid pumps and valves and investigate whether any new corrosion mechanisms arise from salt flowing through the pumps. This will enable the scale-up of a liquid pump that can be implemented in a multi-megawatt flowing molten salt loop. Under Topic 2a of this funding program, this project will provide component-level research and development that may be integrated into Topic 1 projects focusing on system design.


The team will test centrifugal pumps, which spin to move fluid, made from three refractory materials. The team will put material samples on the components that enable the spinning in order to simulate high-speed molten-salt flow conditions. This will enable the team to evaluate degradation mechanisms that may arise from flow-induced corrosion and erosion. In collaboration with Purdue University, the team will conduct these material degradation studies and fabricate the test materials. They will work with Flowserve Corp. to develop full-scale pump designs and perform techno-economic analyses.


Unlike steel and nickel alloys, which are commonly used in CSP plant components, refractory materials will not change shape or significantly degrade in a full-scale CSP plant. This project will increase the durability of critical flow components, enabling more reliable operation at higher temperatures, leading to a lower levelized cost of energy. The scale-up of the components developed in this project will be applied to projects that reach Phase 3 of the Gen3 CSP program, integrated system construction and testing.