Nanoadditives induced enhancement of thermal energy storage properties of molten salt: Insights from experiments and molecular dynamics simulations

L Cui and QS Yu and C Huang and YR Zhang and Y Wang and GS Wei and XZ Du, JOURNAL OF ENERGY STORAGE, 72, 108612 (2023).

DOI: 10.1016/j.est.2023.108612

Current concentrated solar power (CSP) plants use molten salts as heat storage and heat transfer medium. The thermal property enhancement of molten salts can increase the efficiency and lower the investment cost of CSP plants. In this study, the experiments and molecular dynamics (MD) simulations were employed to investigate the effect of doping Al2O3, SiO2 nanoparticles or multi-walled carbon nanotubes (MWCNTs) on the specific heat capacity (SHC) of ternary carbonate salt. The results show that the SHC of molten salt can be enhanced by adding nanoadditives. The addition of MWCNTs has the largest SHC enhancement in both solid and liquid states. Based on MD simulations, the radial distribution functions, number density distribution and vibrational density of states were further analyzed to reveal the effect of nanoadditive, base salt and interface thermal resistance between them on SHC at different temperatures. It is found that the nanoadditive agglomeration, the ion spacing of base salt, and the thermal resistance between base salt and nanoadditive is independent on temperature and cannot result in the enhanced SHC of liquid nanocomposites. Moreover, the thickness of interfacial layer changes with temperature. The thicker interfacial layer leads to the higher SHC of liquid nanocomposites. The interfacial layer also has a decisive influence on SHC of solid nanocomposites. The scanning electron microscopy images show that the layered, needle-like, and network-like interfacial layers are observed in Al2O3, SiO2 and MWCNT nanocomposites, respectively. The present findings are helpful to understand the mechanisms governing thermal energy storage, and provide guidelines for the performance optimization of molten salt based nanocomposites.

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