The new material will help make thermal solar power plants more efficient
Spanish solar thermal power station Gemasolar. Its power makes it possible to provide electricity to 2?000 households 3–3–38.
The sun, wind, water - free and renewable sources of energy. The main thing is the technology of generating electricity from these sources. It should be effective and relatively inexpensive. The effectiveness and cost of technologies that form the basis of green energy are characteristics that can be improved.
If we recall the photocells used to produce electricity from solar energy, then their cost gradually falls, which means that the cost of “solar electricity” decreases. But “not photovoltaic cells are the same” - there is another technology for obtaining energy from the sun's rays. These are thermal solar power stations.
appeared relatively recently. information about the possible use in the "thermal solar energy" of two materials that do not melt at the above temperature, and do not react with carbon dioxide. These are tungsten and zirconium carbide (a chemical compound of zirconium metal and carbon with the formula ZrC).
Both materials have a very high melting point and excellent thermal conductivity. Moreover, at high temperatures, these two materials practically do not expand, retaining their hardness. In general, both candidates are good, but their production process and cost are quite high.
Initially, scientists who study the problem of thermal solar energy began to work with tungsten carbide. It can be sintered, giving the sintered powder almost any shape. Next, the material is placed in a bath with a melt of copper and zirconium. The molten mixture fills the pores of the original material, zirconium reacts with tungsten carbide, replacing the metal. Copper forms a thin film on the surface of the newly formed material.
Tungsten, when released, fills the pores. Thus, the material retains its original shape, but its composition changes. All this withstands very high temperatures without changing the strength characteristics. In many ways - thanks to the pores filled with tungsten.
Scientists have concluded that copper, the film of which covers the resulting material, can react with carbon dioxide to form copper oxide and release carbon monoxide (carbon monoxide). But, as it turned out, if small amounts of carbon monoxide are added to supercritical carbon dioxide, the resulting mixture will suppress the dangerous reaction. This is confirmed experimentally.
It is clear that in order for a super-efficient thermal solar power station to work normally, there should be a lot of material mentioned above. Unfortunately, the scientists do not speak about the cost of the heat exchanger made of zirconium carbide, but they assure that it will not be too expensive.
As a result, new power plants can become so efficient that they will easily compete with both photoelectric power stations and conventional ones that run on combustible minerals.
It is worth noting that now thermal power plants operating on solar energy are still being built. They are located in regions with a very high level of insolation, for example, the United Arab Emirates and Israel. As for the latter, one of the largest power stations of this kind with a capacity of 110 MW operates on its territory.
, 2018. DOI: ??? /s41586-018-0593-1 3r3384.
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