Malik, Darren R. (2010-05). Evaluation of Composite Alumina Nanoparticle and Nitrate Eutectic Materials for use in Concentrating Solar Power Plants. Master's Thesis.
The focus of this research was to create and characterize high temperature alumina and
nitrate salt eutectic nanofluids for use in thermal energy storage (TES) systems. The nitrate
eutectic was originally used in the TES system demonstrated as part of the Solar Two power
tower and is currently employed as the TES material at Andasol 1 in Spain. Concentrations of
alumina nanoparticles between 0.1% and 10% by weight were introduced into the base material
in an effort to create nanofluids which would exhibit improved specific heat capacity to reduce
the $/kWht thermal energy storage system costs.
The composite materials were created using an aqueous mixing method in which both
the nanoparticles and nitrate eutectic were placed into solution using acidic water. This solution
was then sonicated in an ultrasonic bath in an effort to reduce nanoparticle agglomeration and to
improve homogeneity. After boiling off the excess water, the nanoparticle-nitrate eutectic
composite was recovered for characterization. The thermal properties of both the composite and
base materials were characterized using the differential scanning calorimetry techniques outlined
in ASTM E 1269.
The created nanofluids were not stable and did not offer a cost-effective alternative to
the current nitrate eutectic TES material. Despite these setbacks, a positive correlation between
alumina concentration and nanofluid specific heat was demonstrated. Additionally, the specific heat capacities of the created nanofluids exceeded that predicted by the current theoretical
models. These findings suggest that further work in the field of high temperature nanofluids for
use in TES systems is warranted.