Solid particles-based direct solar absorbing heat transfer fluid (HTF) and thermal energy storage (TES) material is gaining increasing interest for high-temperature concentrating solar power (CSP). However, there is no particulate material that simultaneously possesses the performance and cost metrics needed to achieve the target levelized cost of electricity of future CSP, including high solar absorptance, high thermal conductivity, good mechanical and thermal stability, and importantly, low cost. In this work, we demonstrate a facile and scalable method to turn low-cost quartz sand into a direct solar-absorbing HTF and TES material by coating a thin silica shell containing black spinel nanoparticles (Cu0.5Cr1.1Mn1.4O4 and CuCr2O4). The black coating increases the solar absorptances of the sand from ∼0.43 to ∼0.89. The coated quartz sand also shows excellent stability and nearly unchanged optical properties after 100-hr of isothermal annealing at 800 °C and up to 24-hr ball mixing with Yttria Stabilized Zirconia (YSZ) grinding balls. The measured effective thermal conductivity of the coated quartz sand increases 0.30 W m−1 K−1 to 0.65 W m−1 K−1 from 20 °C to 700 °C and is comparable to that of uncoated sand as well as Carbo ceramic particle beds currently used in CSP plants. The coating process could represent a cost-effective and generic strategy to enhance the solar absorptance of solid particles, and when applied on low-cost sand, could turn them into low-cost and high-performance HTF and TES media for future CSP systems.
Chung, K. M., & Chen, R. (2023). Black coating of quartz sand towards low-cost solar-absorbing and thermal energy storage material for concentrating solar power. Solar Energy, 249, 98-106. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.solener.2022.11.028
Published in the January Issue of Solar Energy (full text)