A team at Georgia Institute of Technology, US has published advances in its development of liquid tin for use as a heat transfer agent in concentrated solar power (CSP) plants. CSP uses large scale arrays of reflectors of different kinds to concentrate heat from sunlight onto a heat transfer system, for example in a tower, containing a fluid that can be circulated through a heat turbine to generate electricity.
Tin can operate at higher temperatures than current systems based on molten salts or other fluids, increasing sunlight heat conversion efficiency to around 60%. Switching to tin from molten salts could decrease CSP costs by 30%. Together with partners from other US universities, the Georgia Institute team recently demonstrated suitable containment materials that don’t corrode and developed a ceramic pump that can be used to circulate the tin at up to 1,400°C.
CSP costs are economically competitive with fossil fuels in sun-rich regions such as Africa, Australia, South America and the Middle East and some reports suggest that the technology could account for around 10% of global energy supply by 2050.
Photo credit: SOLUCAR PS10
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