New Nanomaterial Could Dramatically Improve Concentrating Solar
Researchers at the University of California–San Diego have designed a silicon-based coating they claim features 90% conversion efficiency for concentrating solar power (CSP), a solar thermal technology used at the industrial scale to create steam for turbine-generated power.
The material includes a variety of sizes of nano-scale silicon borides, resulting in what the researchers call a “multi-scaled” coating structure. This scaling, they claim, dramatically reduces reflectance when compared with typical CSP coatings. “We want the black hole of sunlight,” said Sungho Jin, Ph.D., an engineering professor at UC–San Diego and one of the material’s developers.
The material is also remarkably durable, the researchers say, and capable of withstanding temperatures up to 700ºC (1,292ºF)—important because efficiency of CSP technologies increases exponentially with temperature. This durability also protects the coating from “thermal oxidation,” a type of premature aging resulting from the high temperatures of CSP equipment operation. By reducing thermal oxidation, the coating could prevent the need for annual CSP-plant shutdowns while receiving equipment is re-coated.
The research was funded through the U.S. Department of Energy’s SunShot program. The researchers reported on the two key properties of the new coating—absorption and oxidation resistance—in a recent issue of Nano Energy.
Melton, P. (2014, December 1). New Nanomaterial Could Dramatically Improve Concentrating Solar. Retrieved from https://www.buildinggreen.com/newsbrief/new-nanomaterial-could-dramatically-improve-concentrating-solar