Application of high temperature alloy in concentrating solar power station
(HY-industry technical centre)
Nickel-based alloys and nickel-containing stainless steels play a key role in an emerging renewable energy source known as thermal solar power plants or concentrated solar power (CSP). The use of nickel-based alloys and nickel-containing stainless steels enables the solar power industry to overcome the challenges of heat transfer and heat storage technologies.
According to the International Energy Agency (IEO 2017), energy consumption from renewable energy (including CSP) will grow at a rate of 2.3% per year between 2015 and 2040. Today, there are more than 40 solar thermal power plants in operation around the world, and another 20 are in the planning stage or under construction. They are often located in areas with high solar irradiance, such as Spain, India, South Africa, China, Chile, Australia, the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) and the southern United States.
The CSP demonstration plant began operations in the early 1980s. Since then, progress has been made in the collection and storage of energy. A solar tower is a concentration technology that has been developed. This design utilizes desalination as a heat transfer fluid. The nitrate mixture is usually melted at a temperature of 130 ° C (268 ° F) or higher. They are stored in liquid form in insulated storage tanks at a temperature of 288 ° C (550 ° F). These liquid salts are then pumped into a solar receiver tube where concentrated radiation heats them up to 566 ° C (1050 ° F) and the hot liquid is then sent to a high temperature storage tank. Thermal storage tanks are also insulated and can store heat for long periods of time.
Thermal Energy Storage (TES) is used to compensate for different needs and environmental conditions. When needed, the desalination pump is pumped into a steam generator that produces steam that drives conventional turbines and generators. Compared to other large renewable energy sources, TES has the unique advantage of eliminating the need for backup fuel for power generation in some cases. In the summer of 2013, Spain’s moltensalt tower system was powered 24 hours a day, 36 days a week. This is the first time such an achievement has been achieved.
This type of factory is the new moon dune solar. It is located in Tonopah in the northern desert of Las Vegas, Nevada, with a net power generation capacity of 110 MW and a 10-hour TES. This means that the power station can generate electricity at full load for up to 10 hours during peak hours. The sun is reflected by more than 10,000 days, and the heliostat concentrates energy on the receiver at the top of the 200 m (640 ft) tower. Each pyranometer consists of a mirrored surface with a total area of 115.7 square meters (1245 square feet). The total collection area is over 1.2 million square meters (12 million square feet). Commercial start-up in 2015.
Since then, the crescent-shaped dunes have produced 173 kWh of electricity, which is estimated to provide peak power to 75,000 homes. Solar towers and desalination CSPs are the basis for the design of new projects in South Africa, Australia and Nevada. South Africa’s Redstone project generates 100 megawatts of electricity and will provide peak power to approximately 200,000 homes with a TES of 12 hours. A new, larger Nevada project will have 2 GW (2000 MW) capacity and 10 solar towers. The use of stainless steel and nickel alloys makes higher temperature systems feasible.
Designers and engineers have used nickel-based alloys such as UNS N06617（Inconel 617）, N06625（Inconel 625） and N06230 for receiving tube applications. Because these alloys have a long-term high temperature strength – called creep resistance. These alloys remain stable at operating temperatures primarily because of their high nickel content and high oxidation resistance. Stainless steel type 347H (S34709) is used in high temperature storage tanks.
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