Project Name: Volumetrically Absorbing Thermal Insulator for Monolithic High-Temperature Microchannel Receiver Modules
Funding Opportunity: Solar Energy Technologies Office Fiscal Year 2018 Funding Program (SETO FY2018)
SETO Team: Concentrating Solar Power
Location: Salt Lake City, UT
SETO Award Amount: $400,000
Awardee Cost Share: $100,000
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 the energy from sunlight and convert it to heat. Receivers for next generation, high-temperature CSP plants push the physical limits of metal alloys, and conventional tubular designs may re-radiate too much heat to be efficient. This project is developing a novel, low-cost, high-temperature, and chemically stable receiver design based on a porous matrix of refractory ceramics. This new technology aims to absorb concentrated sunlight throughout a three-dimensional structure, which will increase thermal efficiency.


The project team is developing and testing a solar receiver made of an aerated silicon carbide “foam,” which will absorb heat well in CSP plants. The team is engineering the foam to effectively carry the absorbed heat to a microchannel heat exchanger capable of transferring the heat to a fluid for thermal energy storage. The team will also insulate the receiver to prevent it from radiating the heat back out to the atmosphere. The design will be tested first through computations and then experimentally at lab scale.


The use of a silicon carbide foam coupled with a microchannel heat exchanger has the potential to substantially reduce the amount of lost sunlight and heat relative to the two-dimensional surface of the tubes that are currently used as receivers. This new receiver aims to have efficiencies greater than 92% at high-temperature operation and longevity of over 10,000 cycles.