Liquid-fluoride-salt heat transfer fluids are proposed to raise the heat-to-electricity efficiencies of solar power towers to about 50%. The liquid salt would deliver heat from the solar furnace at temperatures between and to a closed multireheat Brayton power cycle using nitrogen or helium as the working fluid. During the daytime, hot salt may also be used to heat graphite, which would then be used as a heat storage medium to make night-time operations possible. Graphite is a low-cost high-heat-capacity solid that is chemically compatible with liquid fluoride salts at high temperatures. About half the cost of a solar power tower is associated with the mirrors that focus light on the receiver, and less than one-third is associated with the power cycle and heat storage. Consequently, increasing the efficiency by 20–30% has the potential for major reductions in the cost of electricity. Peak temperatures and efficiencies of current designs of power towers are restricted by (1) the use of liquid nitrate salts that decompose at high temperatures and (2) steam cycles in which corrosion limits peak temperature. The liquid-fluoride-salt technology and closed Brayton power cycles are being developed for high-temperature nuclear reactors. These developments may provide the technology and industrial basis for an advanced solar power tower.
High-Temperature Liquid-Fluoride-Salt Closed-Brayton-Cycle Solar Power Towers
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Forsberg, C. W., Peterson, P. F., and Zhao, H. (July 8, 2006). "High-Temperature Liquid-Fluoride-Salt Closed-Brayton-Cycle Solar Power Towers." ASME. J. Sol. Energy Eng. May 2007; 129(2): 141–146. https://doi.org/10.1115/1.2710245
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