Project Name: Development of In-Situ Corrosion Kinetics and Salt Property Measurements
Funding Opportunity: Generation 3 Concentrating Solar Power Systems
SETO Subprogram: Concentrating Solar Power
Location: Troy, NY
SETO Award Amount: $1,799,892
Awardee Cost Share: $200,107
Principal Investigator: Li (Emily) Liu

To improve the design of concentrating solar-thermal power (CSP) systems and components, this project team aims to create a better understanding of the thermophysical, thermodynamic, and transport properties of molten salt used in high-temperature CSP systems. The choice of materials used to design a CSP system and its components may differ according to the salt properties, the chemistry of molten salt, and how the salt corrodes alloys at high temperatures among contaminants like water and oxygen. Under Topic 2b of this funding program, this project will conduct crosscutting, foundational testing that will inform the design of components for CSP systems.


This project will develop techniques and methodologies to address knowledge gaps in molten salt properties. The team will perform durability tests of containment materials and characterize corrosion behavior relative to levels of known contaminants like water and oxygen in the heat-transfer fluid. To do this, they will use in-situ transmission electron microscopy to obtain high-resolution images of molten salt and alloy cells. To measure the structure of the molten salt and alloy cells, they will use neutron reflectometry, which show the density, thickness, and roughness of the materials. Then the team will conduct macroscopic electrochemical studies and vibrational spectroscopy analysis and develop modeling to determine what happens when the materials interact with each other.


This research seeks to provide insights into molten salt and containment materials in solar-thermal energy systems and prevent corrosion of the components. The team will improve material characterization methods and aid the investigation of thermophysical properties and stability of fluids used in molten salt CSP systems through the four testing techniques mentioned above. This project will provide guidance for the selection of salts and containment materials for CSP systems for the Topic 1 awardees in this funding program, who are developing designs for new high-temperature, low-cost CSP systems.