Development of corrosion inhibiting economical salt blends for thermal energy capture and utilization

Principal investigator: Animesh Kundu

University: Lehigh University

Industry partner: Dynalene, Inc.

The primary objective of our investigation is to develop economical chloride salt formulations for use in concentrated solar power (CSP) plants and industrial waste heat recovery as heat transfer fluids. Chloride salts have been identified as optimal for high-temperature heat transfer applications needed for the next-generation CSP plants operating at 750°C. This new high-temperature paradigm poses several technological, material, and design challenges that are exacerbated by the molten salts, which are intrinsically very corrosive towards most metallic alloys, resulting in containment issues at elevated temperatures.

In the proposed effort, we will develop economical salt formulations with optimal thermo-physical properties along with inhibitor packages containing earth-abundant materials that will form protective coatings on stainless steel. These formulations will minimize corrosion and enable utilization of stainless-steel alloys for containment of the molten chloride salts. The collaborative team of Lehigh University and Dynalene, Inc. developed such salts and inhibitor packages that, while technologically feasible, are not cost-competitive. Thus, new economical solutions must be developed. The successful development of the new formulations will result in a new product line for a Pennsylvania-based company. Lehigh University students trained in this research will gain experience in a cutting-edge market-driven R&D effort and could potentially be retained in the commonwealth upon graduation.