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New Concentrating Solar Power Material Created

Category: Science & Technology
Posted: 05:20PM

The Sun pours more energy onto the Earth than humanity could ever use, but capturing that energy and putting it to use is not very easy. Naturally many approaches have been developed, and one, concentrating solar power (CSP) has received an important boost. Researchers at the University of California, San Diego, as part of the DOE's SunShot program, have created a new material for converting light into heat.

Concentrating solar power works by focusing sunlight onto a material, which absorbs the light and converts it into heat. That heat is then used to heat molten salt, which in turn boils water, creating steam to turn turbines. The absorbing material is obviously key to the process, as it has to be able to hold the energy, instead of radiating it away, and the longer it can survive, the better. Current materials need to be replaced each year, but what the California researchers have created should be able to last multiple years, while also surviving temperatures above 700 ºC and converting over 90% of the light into heat.

The material consists of silicon boride-coated nanoshells that vary in size from 10 nm to 10 micrometers. That range is what allows it to absorb so much light and survive such high temperatures.

Source: University of California, San Diego

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