Optical and chemical properties of molten salt mixtures for use in high temperature power systems
Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Dept. of Nuclear Science and Engineering.
Thomas J. McKrell and Jacopo Buongiorno.
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A future, robust energy portfolio will include, together with fossil fuel technologies and nuclear systems, a mix of renewable energy systems. Within each type of system there will also be variants used to strengthen a nation's baseload and/or peak power requirements. Among renewable energies, solar thermal systems are particularly promising in terms of their capability of contributing to the base-load power generation by providing enough thermal storage for continuous operation. In particular, direct volumetric absorption of the solar heat into molten salts seems to be a promising technology, in terms of efficiency and greenhouse gases emission reduction, which combines the good properties of molten salts as heat storage media with high operating temperatures. Accordingly, the selection of molten salts for this application required knowledge of the salts chemical behavior as well as optical properties. The molten salt selection and characterization was the objective of this Thesis. The light attenuation coefficient of two reagent grade molten salt mixtures (KNO 3 - NaNO 3, 40- 60 wt% and NaCI-KCI, 50-50 wt%) was measured and characterized over the wavelength range 400nm- 800nm and for different operating temperature ranges: 250*C-5000C for the nitrate mixture and 700*C- 8000C for the chloride mixture. The measurements were performed using a unique custom built experimental apparatus based on the transmission technique which combines high accuracy and flexibility in terms of experimental conditions and temperatures with simple layout, use of common lab materials and low cost. The experimental apparatus was validated using published data for both a room temperature fluid (water) as well as a high temperature fluid (a nitrate/nitrate mixture presenting a well known absorption edge shifting with temperature). No previous experimental works characterized molten salts in terms of light attenuation coefficient as a function of temperature and wavelength and under this point of view the obtained results represent unique and direct optical measurement for such a class of fluids. Furthermore, the obtained results are coherent to general theory on molten salts, described as semi-transparent liquids in the visible range and characterized by absorption edges in the ultra-violet and far-infrared regions. About 90% of the solar light emitted in the wavelength range 400nm-800nm is attenuated by 2m of nitrate salt, while about 80% of the solar light emitted in the wavelength range 400nm-800nm is attenuated by 2m of chloride salt. In addition, the chemical stability and material compatibility of molten salt mixtures (including nitrate/nitrite, chloride and carbonate salt mixtures) with common materials of interests were assessed partially through dedicated material compatibility tests and more extensively using a thermodynamic chemistry software, able to predict the equilibrium composition of systems of specified composition at different temperatures. The preliminary melting and material compatibility tests resulted in some of the previously identified salt mixture candidates to be discarded because of undesirable reactions with structural materials or air that made them not suitable for the CSPonD design project.
Thesis (S.M.)--Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Dept. of Nuclear Science and Engineering, 2010.Cataloged from PDF version of thesis.Includes bibliographical references (p. 92-94).
DepartmentMassachusetts Institute of Technology. Dept. of Nuclear Science and Engineering.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Nuclear Science and Engineering.