SETO FY22 CSP Funding Program graphic

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Solar Energy Technologies Office (SETO) Concentrating Solar-Thermal Power (CSP) Fiscal Year 2022 Research, Development, and Demonstration funding program supports projects that accelerate the large-scale development and deployment of CSP technology for industrial decarbonization and electrical power generation and storage.  

On February 8, 2022, DOE announced $25 million in funding for 8 to 15 awards. SETO selected 10 projects, which were announced on September 27, 2022.


These projects are designed to help decarbonize the energy sector by developing CSP technologies for carbon-free industrial processes in the United States, and next-generation plant designs that will operate at high efficiency with low-cost thermal energy storage (TES). These projects will work to apply CSP to new industries and advance the development of components for next-generation CSP systems based on solid particle heat transfer media.

Projects fall under two topic areas:

  • Topic Area 1: Concentrating Solar Thermal for Industrial Decarbonization
    • Projects in this topic area will enable concentrating solar-thermal (CST) technologies with TES to be integrated with high-temperature industrial process technologies to produce economically important products, like cement, fuels, and other chemicals.
  • Topic Area 2: Concentrating Solar-thermal Particle Technologies for Generation 3 (Gen3) CSP and Beyond (Gen3++)
    • Projects in this topic area will focus on improving the particle-based TES technologies identified in SETO’s Gen3 funding program, including development and scale-up of receiver systems, heat exchangers, towers, solid media, steam generation systems, and supercritical carbon dioxide power blocks.


Projects supported by this opportunity will focus on lowering the cost of CSP technologies and creating new market opportunities for the industry, with the goal of enabling substantial deployment of CSP to decarbonize the electricity grid and energy system.


– Award and cost share amounts are rounded and subject to change pending negotiations – 

Topic Area 1:  Concentrating Solar Thermal for Industrial Decarbonization

HELIOGEN HOLDINGS                   

Project Name: Development of an Indirectly Irradiated Solar Thermal Calcination System for On-Sun Testing
Principal Investigator: Apurba Das
Location: Pasadena, CA
DOE Award Amount: $5,100,000
Awardee Cost Share: $1,000,000
Project Summary: This project will demonstrate a solar-driven version of a device called a calciner, which performs a heated chemical reaction to remove carbon dioxide from limestone for cement production. This project will also support the development of the commercial solar calciner by creating modeling tools, designing a scalable prototype, and performing on-sun testing of this prototype. The prototype calciner will be able to operate at high temperatures up to 950 °C by using innovative particle receiver technology that will accelerate the chemical reactions, fabricated from readily available materials like limestone.


Project Name: Solar-Thermal Mixed-Media Enhancement and Decarbonization of Clinker Formation (Solar MEAD)
Principal Investigator: Clifford Ho 
Location: Albuquerque, NM
DOE Award Amount: $3,200,000
Awardee Cost Share: $700,000
Project Summary: This project aims to characterize and optimize heat transfer processes and designs for using CST energy to form clinker, a key intermediate in the production of cement. Instead of a conventional kiln, which burns natural gas to produce heat, this technology uses a solar receiver developed by project partner Synhelion and a heat transfer fluid composed of light-absorbing greenhouse gases to produce heat. The team will take advantage of these characteristics to maximize heat transfer to the raw cement starting materials by investigating new configurations, features, and heat transfer fluid compositions. Additionally, this project will investigate methods to reduce carbon dioxide emissions, lower processing temperatures, and increase efficiency of clinker formation using CST.


Project Name: Scaled-Down Testing of State-of-the-Art and Novel Salt Tanks
Principal Investigator: Luca Imponenti
Location: Broomfield, CO
DOE Award Amount: $2,900,000
Awardee Cost Share: $600,000
Project Summary: This project will analyze and test novel designs for molten salt tanks to provide TES for CST applications that can reliably deliver carbon-free heat on-demand, even after the sun goes down. The project will develop a facility to replicate common structural failures on scaled-down tank designs under simulated operation. Then, the team will design and construct scaled-down prototypes of innovative tank designs for accelerated testing, validation of test procedures, and computational models to ensure reliable performance.


Project Name: Solar Thermochemical Production of Hydrogen and Solar Fuels via Replica Foamed Lanthanum-Strontium-Manganese-Gallium Perovskites
Principal Investigator: Jonathan Scheffe
Location: Gainesville, FL
DOE Award Amount: $2,700,000
Awardee Cost Share: $550,000
Project Summary: This project will develop and validate a highly efficient and scalable solar thermochemical reactor to produce hydrogen gas from water and sunlight. The team has identified perovskite metal oxide materials that are promising for this application, since they are stable through high-temperature heat cycles, efficient at heat transfer, and able to be manufactured at larger scales. These novel materials will be integrated into a scaled-up, previously validated reactor to demonstrate their potential to perform this reaction on a commercially relevant scale.


Project Name: Concentrated Solar-Powered Carbon Membrane Reactor for Decarbonized Propylene and Hydrogen Production
Principal Investigator: Dongxia Liu
Location: College Park, MD
DOE Award Amount: $2,000,000
Awardee Cost Share: $500,000
Project Summary: This project aims to enable carbon-free production of propylene, a key industrial chemical used to produce plastics. The team will develop a novel solar-powered chemical reactor that produces propylene by removing hydrogen from propane. This innovative technology combines multiple materials needed to perform the chemical reaction into a single structure. Combining technologies for solar energy collection, conversion of solar energy into heat, and chemical reactions into a single platform will streamline carbon-free production of propylene. This technology also has the potential to extend to carbon-free production of a broad range of industrial chemicals.

Topic Area 2:  Concentrating Solar-Thermal Particle Technologies for Generation 3 (Gen3) CSP and Beyond (Gen3++)


Project Name: Supercritical Carbon Dioxide Power Block Optimization for Particle-Based CSP
Principal Investigator: Rahul Bidkar
Location: Niskayuna, NY
DOE Award Amount: $2,000,000
Awardee Cost Share: $400,000
Project Summary: This project will develop a preliminary design for a supercritical carbon dioxide (sCO2) power block that is optimized for use with Gen3 particle-based CSP technology. The team will optimize the power block’s turbomachinery designs and determine how to integrate it into CSP systems to maximize power generation efficiency and decrease costs.


Project Name: Reactive-Particle–Based Thermochemical Energy Storage System for Concentrating Solar-thermal Power (TCES-CSP)
Principal Investigator: Like Li
Location: Starkville, MS
DOE Award Amount: $3,900,000
Awardee Cost Share: $800,000
Project Summary:  This team will combine computational modeling and on-sun experimental testing to develop a novel particle-based thermochemical energy storage (TCES) system to enable low-cost CSP energy directly coupled with long-duration energy storage. The project will combine Gen3 particle technologies for both CSP and TCES systems, which can increase efficiency of energy generation and storage, while decreasing the cost of CSP energy.


Project Name: High-Temperature Particle In-Line Mass Flow Sensor
Principal Investigator: Clifford Ho
Location: Albuquerque, NM
DOE Award Amount: $1,300,000
Awardee Cost Share: $350,000
Project Summary: This project will design, develop, and test novel sensors to monitor particle flow in CSP systems. Particle flow sensors are critical components of high-temperature particle-based CST systems to enable reliable operation of both CSP and industrial process heat applications. These new sensors will overcome shortcomings in previous sensors by operating continuously and in-line with particle flow in the system itself at high temperatures. The most promising designs will be tested to identify at least one prototype sensor with a lifetime of greater than 30 years with a 90% decrease in cost from current sensor systems.


Project Name: Receiver Slide Gate Development and Evaluation for Gen3++ Falling Particle Receivers
Principal Investigator: Nathan Schroeder
Location: Albuquerque, NM
DOE Award Amount: $2,400,000
Awardee Cost Share: $450,000
Project Summary: This project will design and study a modular system of sliding gates to control the flow of particles in CSP receivers. The modular nature of this design will make it easier to replace parts and give operators more control of the receiver temperature. This level of control will improve receiver efficiency, which will decrease the overall cost of CSP energy. The team will evaluate the stability of multiple designs by subjecting the system parts to high-temperature heat cycles and monitoring for degradation.


Project Name: Topology Optimization, Additive Manufacturing, and Experimental Testing of Particle Heat Exchangers
Principal Investigator: Xiaoping Qian
Location: Madison, WI
DOE Award Amount: $3,000,000
Awardee Cost Share: $700,000
Project Summary: This project will use two novel strategies for heat exchanger design and manufacturing to develop a 100 kW prototype of a modular system to transfer heat from particles to supercritical carbon dioxide. This design has the potential to drastically improving performance, manufacturability, cost, and reliability. The team will use computational design to optimize the channels that particles flow through to maximize heat transfer. They will fabricate prototypes of these optimized heat exchangers out of silicon carbide material with strategic additives. This prototype will be tested to determine potential for scale-up of the system.

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