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High-temperature SiC Receivers with Low Emissivity for Concentrated Solar Power

Company Name: Ceramic Tubular Products
Program Office: Solar
Location: Lynchburg, VA
Email: Herbert Feinroth, CEO;
Award Amount: $160,000
Project Term: 12 months
Project Status: Active
Participating Lab(s): Sandia National Laboratories


Concentrated solar power (CSP) systems with thermal energy storage have the potential to produce emissions-free electricity for commercial grid delivery at near-competitive prices, as demonstrated by a series of successful projects such as the 110 MWe Crescent Dunes project in Nevada. However, further improvement in solar-to-electric conversion efficiency is needed in order to reach the Department of Energy's SunShot goal of making solar electricity market-competitive with conventionally generated electricity by 2020, without subsidies.  

Ceramic Tubular Products' (CTP's) proposed receiver-tube technology, and the testing to be done at Sandia National Laboratories' National Solar Thermal Test Facility,directly address this objective. This SBV Pilot will demonstrate the robustness of CTP's silicon carbide (SiC) receiver tubes, document their strength and corrosion resistance in high-temperature salts such as chloride salts operating at 750°C, and prove their superior absorptivity and emissivity properties at high temperatures. In doing so, the project will enable the development and demonstration of next-generation CSP systems that are capable of achieving the SunShot vision. It will also set the stage for future development of even higher-temperature, more-efficient CSP systems, operating with liquid lead at temperatures of 900°C.


CTP's silicon carbide triplex nuclear fuel cladding, which has been developed and demonstrated over the last 15 years, is now one of the leading candidates for the DOE-sponsored program to develop accident-tolerant fuels for U.S. commercial nuclear reactors. High-temperature strength (up to 1200°C) and resistance to environmental degradation has been demonstrated, and is directly relevant to the concentrated solar power application. CTP is now in the early stages of adapting this multilayered SiC nuclear fuel cladding technology to meet the needs of a new generation of high-temperature solar receivers. There are several features of this nuclear cladding technology that make it ideal for advanced CSP receiver-tube applications.


With positive results from the testing at Sandia National Laboratories, CTP intends to enter the market for CSP receiver tubes. CTP and its tube supplier, Saint Gobain, see this market as potentially very profitable. With positive test results, we are prepared to invest in further development and new manufacturing infrastructure to grow the business of concentrated solar power as a major contributor to emissions-free generation of electricity, both in the U.S. and abroad. 

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