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Enhancing Energy Storage

Under the supervision of Dr. Donghyun Shin, three​ Master’s of Science in Engineering students developed advanced thermal energy storage for concentrated solar power plants. Part of the results of this collaborative research was published in journals, such as Solar Energy Materials and Solar Cells, International Journal of Heat and Mass Transfer, RSC Advances, etc. 

Dr. Shin, and graduate students Baha El Far, Syed Rizvi, and Yousof Nayfeh researched solar energy technology with the goal of developing cost-effective thermal energy storage that could replace fossil-fueled power plants. The team began by analyzing the two primary solar energy harvesting technologies: photovoltaics and concentrated solar power. Since the sun is only out during the daytime, photovoltaic cells, which make up solar panels, are limited in their electricity production. In contrast, concentrated solar power technology presents a unique fossil fuel power plant alternative by incorporating thermal energy storage, allowing for both day and night electricity production. However, thermal energy storage is relatively expensive. 

The team utilized the lab in CMU’s Engineering & Technology building to make nanofluids to enhance the thermal storage density by 20-30% so that smaller thermal energy storage devices could be used to store the same amount of heat. This was achieved by mixing nanoparticles with a variety of molten salts, a process often referred to as doping. By enhancing the thermal storage density, Dr. Shin and his students present a more cost-efficient solution to using concentrated solar power technology that has the potential to replace fossil-fueled power plants.

At CMU, we do research and real-world results.

Story by ORGS intern, Hailey Nelson

May 2021