Sandia Labs to Create New Molten Salt Valves

Sandia National Laboratories, headquartered in New Mexico, USA, will partner with Flowserve Corp. and Kairos Power LLC on a $2.5 million, three-year Department of Energy Advanced Valve Project grant to lower the cost and boost the efficiency of concentrating solar power in the USA. 

A more reliable, higher-temperature molten salt valve is vital in achieving DOE SunShot targets that will lower power-generating costs while increasing production. SunShot aims to reduce the total costs of solar energy, making it cost competitive at large scale with other forms of energy without subsidies by the end of the decade.
Current molten salt valves require expensive, frequent maintenance. But perhaps a bigger challenge is that molten salt valve failures can occur frequently throughout the system, resulting in expensive downtime to repair or replace the valve and repack and replace the seals. Add the corrosive properties of salt, and there is a recipe for repeated breakdowns. If a valve failure is happening on a monthly basis in systems with between 10 and 15 valves, the system can be inoperable for days, weeks or even months. The associated loss of revenue can render these systems unsustainable.
The project will investigate a newly designed molten salt valve as part of a complete solar energy management system. If successful, these redesigned valves also can be used for energy transfer in other fields, including nuclear energy and petrochemical industries.
Image credit: Sandia Labs and Flowserve Corp.
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