Technical and Economic Feasibility of Molten Chloride Salt Thermal Energy Storage Systems

Samuel Gage, Devon Kesseli, Jacob Dupree, Chase Kimbal, Joe Rigby, James Yates, Brad Morrison, Gordon Bigham, Craig Turchi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus Citations


A techno-economic study is performed to assess the feasibility of molten chloride salt thermal energy storage (TES) systems for next generation concentrating solar power. Refractory liners internally insulate tanks to allow tank shells to be constructed from carbon steel. The liner must not be wetted by salt to maintain predictable thermal properties and manageable heat loss out of the tank. The commercial scale tank liner is an anchored brick and mortar design with expansion joints to accommodate thermal expansion. Finite element analysis is performed to optimize the thermal and mechanical profile of the tank. Equalizing the shell temperature between the water-cooled foundation and the shell wall is necessary to minimize differential thermomechanical stress and lower overall stress values below industrial allowable limits. The cost of the TES system is estimated to be $60/kWhth, which is four times greater than Department of Energy targets. Solutions to reduce system cost and overall risk are proposed.

Original languageAmerican English
Article numberArticle No. 111099
Number of pages8
JournalSolar Energy Materials and Solar Cells
StatePublished - 1 Jul 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 Elsevier B.V.

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/JA-5700-77891


  • Commercial scale TES tank design
  • Finite element analysis
  • Gen3 CSP Liquid pathway
  • Molten chloride salts
  • Techno-economic analysis


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