Spanish UPM researchers coordinate the first European project to store energy in molten silicon at temperature in excess of 1000 ºC. The Polytechnic University of Madrid through the Institute of Solar Energy participates in AMADEUS, a Horizon 2020 project.
AMADEUS project´s aim is to store energy at temperatures above 1000 ° C through the molten silicon. It is the first project of its kind at European level and is coordinated by researchers from the Solar Energy Institute of the Polytechnic University of Madrid (UPM). The experts will try to create a new generation of extremely compact and low cost energy storage devices with potential application in various sectors.
First European project to store energy
Direct storage of solar energy in solar thermal plants, or the integration of electrical storage and cogeneration in homes and districts are just some of the applications that the new devices could have.
The project has achieved funding from the Future Emnerging Technologies (FET) call of the European Commission’s Horizon 2020 program, which “is an achievement in itself since only 4 out of 100 proposals submitted have been funded in this call, one of the most competitive in the whole program, “the UPM said in a statement.
It intends to break the barrier of 600ºC
With a budget of 3.3 million euro for the next three years, AMADEUS (Next Generation Materials and Solid State Devices for Ultra High Temperature Energy Storage and Conversion) will investigate into new materials and devices that allow storing energy at temperatures in the range between 1000 and 2000 ° C. In this way, it is intended to break the 600 ° C barrier, rarely exceeded by the current systems used in solar thermal plants.
To achieve this, experts will work with different metal alloys of silicon and boron, which melt at temperatures above 1385 ° C and will allow to store between 2 and 4 MJ /kg, “an order of magnitude higher than the salts being currently used,” explains Alejandro Datas of the Solar Energy Institute of the UPM and one of the project´s coordinators.
In addition, the materials needed to contain these molten metals for long periods of time and to achieve good thermal insulation, as well as the devices to achieve an efficient conversion of the heat stored into electricity, will be studied.
Devices based on UPM technology
For the latter, the project will investigate a new concept (patented by UPM researchers) combining thermionic and photovoltaic effects to achieve the direct conversion of heat into electricity. Unlike conventional thermal machines, this system does not require physical contact with the heat source, since it is based on the direct emission of electrons (thermionic effect) and photons (thermo-photovoltaic effect), the statement continues.
[Pullquote] These devices will simplify and drastically reduce the costs of the system since they do not require a heat transfer fluid, nor pipes and no heat exchangers. .[/pullquote]
However, if they are successful in their development, the new devices will not only be able to work at very high temperatures, but they will also simplify and drastically reduce the costs of the system, since they do not require a heat transfer fluid, nor pipes and no heat exchangers, which today, account for a large part of these facilities cost.
In addition to the Polytechnic University of Madrid (UPM), the project includes the collaboration of six other partners from five European countries, with experience in fields as diverse as metallurgy, thermal insulation, fluid dynamics and semiconductor devices.
The research consortium, coordinated by Alejandro Datas and Antonio Martí, both from the Polytechnic University of Madrid, will have the participation of the National Research Council of Italy, the Research Institute of the Polish Foundry, the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, The Hellas Center for Research and Technology in Greece, the University of Stuttgart in Germany and IONVAC Process SRL from Italy.