Salt Heat Transfer Fluids in CSP

Hmmm, needs more salt. A common phrase utilized for food when it doesn’t have much taste. Nowadays, studies have shown that salt can help with solar panels. How, might you ask? Salt has been shown to help with lowering the cost it takes to operate a CSP system, by improving the efficiency of the system, and the system being able to operate at high temperatures.

So what exactly does adding salt to an CSP system do? According to ASME, adding salt can raise temperatures up to five hundred and fifty degrees Celsius. With this happening, greater efficiencies can be achieved. The types of salts utilized in these systems are either molten or liquid salts. For molten salts, these are more commonly seen in power plants utilizing heat transfer.

Why use salts instead of the usual oil-based HTF’s? The reasons are simple. Salt is much cheaper making it more cost efficient, it is much more dense, and finally it can retain more energy per volume so it improves the efficiency. In addition, salt can be stored at ambient temperature unlike oil-based HTF’s. This is much more efficient because less storage tanks will be needed. The advantages don’t stop here though. Salts also pollute much less, nonflammable, abundant, low vapor pressures, and cost-efficient.

Although salt offers several benefits, it has a negative aspect that can affect CSP systems. This aspect occurs when salt freezes. If the salt in some way melts below its freezing point, it tends to freeze. This freezing effect then causes contractions and expansions. If the pipes in the system contain salt that is frozen as such, they can burst or rupture. This is one of the risks of utilizing salt.



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