Electrochemical Mitigation of Corrosion in Molten Chloride Salts During CSP Plant Operation

Research output: NRELPresentation


We are designing an electrochemical flow-cell for removal of corrosive impurities from molten chloride salt Gen3 Concentrating Solar Power (CSP) plants during plant operation. Corrosive impurities will inevitably form in molten chloride salts upon exposure to air and moisture. We previously showed that even small amounts of these impurities, especially MgOHCl, will be detrimental in Gen3 CSP plants, necessitating prohibitively expensive containment alloys and frequent replacement of corroded components. Pre-purification of salt with Mg metal at temperatures above 650 degrees C is the current method for removing corrosive impurities from chloride salts before they are introduced to CSP systems. However, this is not a suitable method for impurity removal during plant operation. First, this method will produce MgO particulates which will damage plant components. Second, Mg metal is solid at the low temperature point (500 degrees C), so the purification will not proceed at a fast rate. At the high temperature point, Mg is soluble. In this case, fast purification may proceed, but dissolved metal is likely to precipitate out in cold-temperature point components, causing damage. In contrast, our electrochemically driven method allows fast Mg-based purification to proceed at the low temperature point, without formation of harmful particulates and without the risk of Mg metal precipitation. This novel approach is inspired by electrorefining techniques that are widely employed in industrial metallurgy for removal of impurities from metals. Impurities in the incoming molten salt will be reduced to inert MgO at the cathode, which can be removed by periodically washing the cell with acid. Simultaneously, Mg dissolution at the anode will ensure salt composition is maintained, with no net removal of Mg2+. We have validated this electrochemical approach at lab scale under static conditions with batch rectors. Furthermore, we have performed analytical modeling and technoeconomic analysis to produce a preliminary engineering design for the purification flow cell.
Original languageAmerican English
Number of pages9
StatePublished - 2021

Publication series

NamePresented at the ASME ES 2021 15th International Conference on Energy Sustainability, 16-18 June 2021

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/PR-5500-80080


  • CSP
  • electrochemistry
  • molten salts


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