“PROGETTO NEXTOWER”- “Advanced materials solutions for next generation high efficiency concentrated solar power (CSP) tower systems”
NEXTOWER shall introduce a set of innovative materials to boost the performance of atmospheric air-based concentrated solar power (CSP) systems to make them commercially viable. In particular, tower systems are appealing for the great environmental compatibility and offer tremendous potential for efficient (electrical and thermal) power generation. Yet, their industrial exploitation has been so far hindered by limitations in the materials used both for the central receiver - the core component - and for thermal storage. Such limitations dictate maximum working temperature and in-service overall durability (mainly driven by failure from thermal cycling and thermal shocks). Improving the efficiency of a tower system entails necessarily improving the central receiver upstream and possibly re-engineering the whole systems downstream to work longer and at much higher temperature, especially in the thermal storage compartment.
CALEF participates in the European NEXTOWER project (Grant Agreement number: 721045- H2020-NMBP-2016-2017 / H2020-NMBP-2016-two-stage), with four of its consortium members:
- Italian Welding Institute (IIS),
- Research and Development Services Company srl (SRS),
- University of Calabria (UniCal)
- University of Salerno (UniSa).
CALEF was entrusted with one of the most critical tasks of the entire NEXTOWER project, which consists of the responsibility for the design, shared with ENEA, and for the assembly of the energy storage system made available by the system receiving the sun's rays.
This complex system, renamed "SOLEAD", represents an absolute innovation because for the first time, in the field of solar energy production, technology based on molten salts will be replaced with that of molten lead, at the same time representing an important technological impact the experience gained by ENEA in the field of nuclear constructions (CIRCE system).
Nonetheless, in parallel with the Engineering activities, jointing practices for the welding of all the critical components and materials of the SOLEAD system will be studied and developed.
The technical problems, in fact, impact heavily on the compatibility between containment materials and the interface with the molten lead which will reach operating temperatures higher than those normally explored in III and IV Generation plants where the main task to be carried out is that of cooling fluid.
The welded samples made and optimized will be characterized in the laboratory. The results will represent the basis for the definition of the guidelines to be adopted as a pre-normative reference for the experimental demonstrator SOLEAD and its future developments.
Finally, CALEF will have to guarantee the functionality of the SOLEAD instrumentation and its final installation at the CIEMAT site in Almeira, Spain. And at the CIEMAT site in Almeira, Spain.