Synthesis and Characterization of Molten Salt Nanofluids for Thermal Energy Storage Application in Concentrated Solar Power Plants—Mechanistic Understanding of Specific Heat Capacity Enhancement Academic Article uri icon


  • Molten salts mixed with nanoparticles have been shown as a promising candidate as the thermal energy storage (TES) material in concentrated solar power (CSP) plants. However, the conventional method used to prepare molten salt nanofluid suffers from a high material cost, intensive energy use, and laborious process. In this study, solar salt-Al2O3 nanofluids at three different concentrations are prepared by a one-step method in which the oxide nanoparticles are generated in the salt melt directly from precursors. The morphologies of the obtained nanomaterials are examined under scanning electron microscopy and the specific heat capacities are measured using the temperature history (T-history) method. A non-linear enhancement in the specific heat capacity of molten salt nanofluid is observed from the thermal characterization at a nanoparticle mass concentration of 0.5%, 1.0%, and 1.5%. In particular, a maximum enhancement of 38.7% in specific heat is found for the nanofluid sample prepared with a target nanoparticle mass fraction of 1.0%. Such an enhancement trend is attributed to the formation of secondary nanostructure between the alumina nanoparticles in the molten salt matrix following a locally-dispersed-parcel pattern. These findings provide new insights to understanding the enhanced energy storage capacity of molten salt nanofluids.

author list (cited authors)

  • Ma, B., Shin, D., & Banerjee, D.

citation count

  • 1

publication date

  • November 2020