Thermal Conductivity Measurement Using Modulated Photothermal Radiometry for Nitrate and Chloride Molten Salts: Article No. 124652

Ka Man Chung, Tianshi Feng, Jian Zeng, Sarath Adapa, Xintong Zhang, Andrew Zhao, Ye Zhang, Peiwen Li, Youyang Zhao, Javier Garay, Renkun Chen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus Citations


Molten salts are being used or explored for thermal energy storage and conversion systems in concentrating solar power and nuclear power plants. Thermal conductivity of molten salts is an important thermophysical property dictating the performance and cost of these systems, but its accurate measurement has been challenging, as evidenced by wide scattering of existing data in literature. The corrosive and conducting nature of these fluids also leads to time consuming sample preparation processes of many contact-based measurements. Here, we report the measurement of thermal conductivity of molten salts using a modulated photothermal radiometry (MPR) technique, which is a laser-based, non-contact, frequency-domain method adopted for molten salts for the first time. By unitizing the advantages of front side sensing of frequency-domain measurements and the vertical holder orientation, the technique can minimize the natural convection and salt creeping effects, thus yielding accurate molten salt thermal conductivity. The MPR technique is first calibrated using standard molten materials including paraffin wax and sulfur. It is then applied on measuring pure nitrate salts (NaNO3 and KNO3), solar salt (NaNO3-KNO3 mixture), and chloride salt (NaCl-KCl-MgCl2). The measurement results are compared with data from literature, especially those obtained from laser flash analysis (LFA). Our results demonstrate that the MPR is a convenient and reliable technique of measuring thermal conductivity of molten salts. Accurate thermal conductivity data of molten salts will be valuable in developing the next-generation high-temperature thermal energy storage and conversion systems.
Original languageAmerican English
Number of pages9
JournalInternational Journal of Heat and Mass Transfer
StatePublished - 2023

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/JA-5700-82490


  • chloride salt
  • concentrating solar power
  • modulated photothermal radiometry
  • molten salt
  • nitrate salt
  • thermal conductivity
  • thermal energy storage


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