Electrochemical Control for Corrosion in Molten Chlorides During CSP Plant Operation

Research output: NRELTechnical Report


The Liquid Pathway of the Concentrating Solar Power Generation 3 (CSP Gen3) program proposed low-cost molten chloride salt for energy storage. However, online corrosion control was identified as a remining major risk of the Liquid Pathway approach. This project addressed that risk. Electrochemical solutions for corrosion mitigation during CSP plant operation were investigated and their feasibility and scalability were evaluated. The leading cause of corrosion in molten chloride salt systems was identified as corrosive impurities that form within the salt upon exposure to trace amounts of air and moisture. Leveraging electrochemistry, reduction/oxidation reactions can be employed to remove these corrosive impurities. In Phase 1 of this project, a bench-scale batch electrochemical reactor was designed, fabricated, and used to assess the kinetics and thermodynamics of electrochemical salt purification. In Phase 2, a laboratory-scale flow reactor was designed, fabricated, and used to assess the efficacy of the electrochemical method under flowing conditions. Results show that under proposed operating conditions for the Liquid Pathway Gen3 Pilot Plant, the electrochemical method is significantly more effective at removing impurities than alternative chemical and thermal methods, and that the electrochemical method produces less harmful byproducts. A key advance made in the course of this project was the development of a 2-electrode method for electrochemical purification that is more scalable than previously developed 3 electrode methods. This novel method is based on Magnesium (Mg) electrowinning. A provisional patent based on this invention has been submitted (USPTO Application No. 63/480,355). Additional key advances made during this project include assessment of the effect of dissimilar alloys on corrosion, kinetic and thermodynamic evaluation of thermolysis reactions of impurities within the molten salt, characterization of byproducts of purification reactions, and generation of IP focused on isolating value-added products using molten salt-based electrochemistry that could be deployed to valorize the process (USPTO Application No. 63/478,806). Ultimately, this project represented a step toward feasibility of Liquid Pathway Gen3 CSP. The method developed under this project could significantly reduce capital expenses and operating costs and increase plant profitability by enabling use of less expensive alloys, decreasing maintenance, and increasing plant longevity. Key focus areas for follow-on work have been identified as 1) evaluation of the efficacy of the electrochemical method under turbulent conditions in a larger flow system, such as the FASTR loop, 2) development of methods for removal of purification byproducts, 3) modeling pilot and industrial scale performance of electrochemical salt purification during plant operation and 4) further assessment of the effect of impurities on salt vapor phase.
Original languageAmerican English
Number of pages74
StatePublished - 2024

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/TP-5500-85796


  • chloride salt
  • corrosion
  • CSP
  • electrochemistry
  • molten salt


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