29 mai 2018

Scientific context

Concentrated Solar Power (CSP) technologies harvest direct solar irradiation, concentrate it with mirrors and convert it into heat thanks to a solar receiver ran by a heat transfer fluid. This heat can be further converted into electricity via a thermodynamical cycle. On one hand, the receiver materials must be able to withstand extreme conditions during 25 to 30 years of operation, including concentrated solar flux, high temperatures (200 –1000°C) in vacuum or air, thermal cycling, thermal shocks, etc. On the other hand, they must possess suitable optical properties. High absorptance α in the solar region (0.3 – 2.5 μm) is mandatory to maximize the amount of absorbed solar energy. Ideally, low infrared thermal emittance ε is also sought for, to limit radiative thermal losses which increase strongly with temperature (Stefan-Boltzmann’s law σT4). If these two properties are met, the material is said to be spectrally selective. At mid-temperatures, very efficient metallic receivers covered with solar selective absorber coatings maintained in vacuum are commonly employed. At high temperatures in air (T > 600 – 700°C), bulk materials with high thermal stability must be used instead, as coatings become unstable. Below 800°C, superalloys (e.g. Inconel) covered with non-selective absorbing black paints are used.

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