Heat Transfer Fluid for High Efficient Solar Energy Utilisation: Molecular Dynamic Approach and Experimental Study

Project: Research

Project Details


Royal Academy of Engineering Project:
Solar thermal power (STP) is one of the most efficient approaches to harness solar energy. In STP system, the concentrated solar energy is captured by the heat transfer fluid (HTF), which also can be used to storage the thermal energy to eliminate the time-dependent waviness of the solar energy. Thus, HTFs are crucial to STP plants and their selection is paramount to the overall efficiency of the system. HTF should be stable at high temperature, environmentally safe and naturally abundant. Typical heat transfer fluids are the commonly used molten salt, or the so-called solar salt (40%KNO3+60%NaNO3). However, the present solar salts have poor properties both in specific heat and thermal conductivity, which has been the bottleneck for the development of the STP technology. It is therefore imperative to seek HTF with excellent thermophysical properties, i.e. high specific heat and high thermal conductivity.
Many studies have been devoted to the nanofluids over the past two decades,
nanofluids has been received considerable attentions that by adding nano particles (NPs) into molten salt to improve the thermophysical performances. However, dispersive and sometimes even contrary results were found between different research works. In addition, there are still a number of problems exists, including that of (i) long-term stability of nanoparticle suspension at high temperature solar salt; (ii) effect of nanoparticle on the performance enhancement of the base fluid; and (iii) in which way the results can be scale-up to a realistic volume under realistic conditions.
For the proposed project, the experimental work will be carried out to investigate the thermal properties for the proposed new solar salt composite both for solid phase at low temperature and liquid phase at high temperature. Moreover, a new molecular dynamic (MD) model will be developed and validated against the obtained experimental data.
Effective start/end date1/07/1831/07/18


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