Engineers at Oregon State University have identified a new approach for the storage of concentrated solar thermal energy, to reduce its cost and make it more practical for wider use.
Conceptually, all of the energy produced could be stored indefinitely and used later when the electricity is most needed.
Some energy could be used immediately and the rest stored for later use.
Many alternative energy systems are constrained by this lack of dependability and consistent energy flow.
In contrast to conventional solar photovoltaic cells that produce electricity directly from sunlight, solar thermal generation of energy is developed as a large power plant in which acres of mirrors precisely reflect sunlight onto a solar receiver.
“The molten salts now being used to store solar thermal energy can only work at about 600 degrees centigrade, and also require large containers and corrosive materials. The compound we’re studying can be used at up to 1,200 degrees, and might be twice as efficient as existing systems.”This has the potential for a real breakthrough in energy storage,” he said.
In laboratory tests, one concern arose when the energy storage capacity of the process declined after 45 heating and cooling cycles, due to some changes in the underlying materials.
The Latest on: Solar thermal energy
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The Latest on: Solar thermal energy
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