The University of Arizona will lead a group of researchers that includes some at Arizona State University to work under a $5 million, five-year grant to find new solutions for concentrated solar power.
The grant is part of the U.S. Department of Energy’s SunShot Initiative, which is seeking to make solar power cost competitive.
UA researchers will team with those from ASU and Georgia Tech University to develop new fluids based on molten salt that would be used in place of traditional heat-transfer fluids.
The fluids are used in concentrated solar power (CSP) systesm when a power plant’s mirrors reflect the sun’s light onto tubes carrying that material. It is transported to the plant’s generation unit, where it is used to boil water to make steam that in turn runs the turbines and produces the power.
Molten salt is being used in CSP plants as a storage method, notably in Abengoa Solar’s Solana Generating Station near Gila Bend.
The idea behind the grants is to find a fluid that can generate higher temperatures and lead to greater efficiencies in CSP production, thus lowering the cost.
The SunShot initiative is a DOE venture to back research an projects around the U.S. that will look to lower the costs of all forms of solar.
The University of California, Los Angeles also received a $5 million, 5-year grant. It will team with Yale University and the University of California, Berkeley to look at using liquid metals as a fluid.