Project Name: Robust and Spectrally Selective Aerogels for Solar Receivers  
Funding Opportunity: Solar Energy Technologies Office Fiscal Year 2018 Funding Program (SETO FY2018)
SETO Team: Concentrating Solar Power
Location: Ann Arbor, MI
SETO Award Amount: $260,000
Awardee Cost Share: $65,000
Planned Timeline: 2019-2021

-- Award and cost share amounts are subject to change pending negotiations --

Solar receivers in concentrating solar-thermal power (CSP) plants absorb sunlight and use it to heat a fluid, which is transferred to thermal energy storage. But the receiver can re-radiate the energy it absorbs from sunlight as heat, which lowers its efficiency. This project aims to develop insulation materials that allow sunlight to enter a receiver and prevent its release from the system.


The project team aims to improve an insulating cover for CSP receivers made of a silica aerogel and coated in a metal oxide. This insulating layer will be optimized to allow transmission of light with solar’s wavelengths but prevent re-radiation of heat from the receiver. The team will test the proposed aerogel to validate its insulating characteristics and measure its thermal stability using a rapid thermal annealer, which heats each insulating layer individually.


By developing an insulating aerogel layer for solar receivers, this team aims to enable receiver efficiencies of greater than 85% at a target peak temperature of 700o Celsius. This insulating material would be particularly valuable in linear Fresnel and trough collectors for CSP plants, as it would replace the need for vacuum-insulated solar receivers.