Thermal Energy Storage
The major advantage of CSP over PV or other renewables such as wind is the ability to store the energy cheaply over long periods and use it whenever needed. Thermal storage in particular is highly attractive because it has essentially no restrictions on the discharge rate or cycle life and is much cheaper [see paper] than electrical batteries [see paper]. It is in this respect that thermal storage is a critical technology that can enable the usage of other renewables [see paper]. The general research objective with thermal storage is to find materials that are abundant, low cost, and have a large operating temperature range so that the cost per unit thermal energy stored ($/kWh-t) is minimized. Towards this end, the ASE research group works on identifying metals and alloys that have maximum energy density, lowest cost and chemical compatibility with candidate CSP infrastructure containment materials. The ASE group also works on developing energetically and exergetically efficient prototype storage systems, for example using liquid metals.