Thermal Stability of Silica for Application in Thermal Energy Storage

Patrick Davenport, Zhiwen Ma, William Nation, Jason Schirck, Aaron Morris, Matthew Lambert

Research output: NRELPoster


Free from siting constraints, thermal energy storage (TES) shows promise as an economical alternative to traditional pumped-storage hydropower (PSH) and compressed air energy storage (CAES). As potential thermal energy storage media, many solid particles demonstrate stability over wide temperature ranges which allows for increased sensible energy storage density and is essential in achieving low-cost storage. Silica sand, in the form of a-quartz, is one such candidate. This work presents a brief review of relevant silica thermophysical properties and further investigates the thermal stability of silica particles as a candidate TES media by subjecting them to two different thermal campaigns: (1) a 500-hour thermal treatment at 1200°C under varied atmospheres; and (2) cycling 25, 50, and 100 times between 300°C and 1200°C. For both campaigns, particle stability is examined by means of pre- and post-treatment Mie scattering. An additional XRD analysis is conducted for the 500-hour treatment in air. Results indicate limited changes in both particle distribution and crystallographic structure which is promising for the application as solid particle media for thermal energy storage.
Original languageAmerican English
StatePublished - 2020

Publication series

NamePresented at SolarPACES 2020, 28 September - 2 October 2020

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/PO-5500-77830


  • concentrating solar power
  • particle stability
  • quartz
  • sand
  • silica
  • solar
  • thermal energy storage


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