Press Releases > Reclaimed Coal Ash as Low-Cost TES Material

Reclaimed Coal Ash as Low-Cost TES Material

Press Release

Press Release

Physical Sciences Inc. (PSI) has been awarded a program from the Department of Energy (DOE) to investigate utilizing reclaimed coal ash from landfills to provide low-cost, high-performance thermal energy storage to help ensure future U.S energy security.

One of the fundamental needs of power generation from solar resources is the ability to store thermal energy for periods when solar radiation is limited, due to either cloud passage or nighttime. The thermal energy storage media itself can be a significant cost driver for the overall system and, therefore, levelized cost of energy. PSI is addressing the need for an improved thermal energy storage material by using reclaimed coal ash that provides better thermal performance and lower cost compared to existing materials, which will benefit the DOE by reducing installation costs for concentrated solar power plants.

Concentrated solar power generation requires economies of scale to compete on energy cost with photovoltaics. Large, localized sites can cause grid disruptions if power drops off suddenly, meaning that viable concentrated solar power plants need some form of thermal energy storage to operate smoothly and increase electrical production enough to compete with photovoltaics. Thermal storage also increases the utility of solar power because it allows concentrated solar power plants to produce electricity during valuable, grid-protecting peak usage periods. Future concentrated solar power plants need a thermal energy storage media that has high specific heat capacity and low cost, while absorbing solar energy readily and limiting energy loss due to emissions in the infrared spectrum.

The commercial applications of this technology include present and future concentrated solar power plants in the U.S. and internationally. It will provide additional benefit to power companies and coal plant operators by reducing the costs of coal ash disposal and maintaining coal ash landfills.

For more information, contact:

Dr. Sean Torrez
Area Manager, Deployable Structures
Physical Sciences Inc.
Telephone: (978) 689-0003