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Accelerated Materials Design for Molten Salt Technologies Using Innovative High-Throughput Methods

University of Wisconsin-Madison (UW-Madison)
Program: 
ARPA-E Award: 
$1,861,820
Location: 
Madison, WI
Project Term: 
02/04/2019 to 02/03/2022
Project Status: 
ACTIVE
Technical Categories: 
Critical Need: 
Molten salt corrosion-resistant materials are critical in a variety of next-generation power systems, such as next-generation nuclear and concentrated solar. Historically, though, time-consuming manual and ad-hoc experiments have been used to identify molten salt corrosion-resistant metal alloys, rather than more efficient automated and statistically guided experimental design approaches. This is due to the lack of in-place monitoring; the large, expensive infrastructure; and the time-consuming, post-test sample/salt analysis.
Project Innovation + Advantages: 
The University of Wisconsin's integrated toolset seeks to expedite molten salt materials development for technology by two orders of magnitude, compared with current methods. The team will combine advances in additive manufacturing, in-place testing for materials/salt compatibility, new molten salt-resistant mini-electrode designs, and machine learning algorithms to optimize and accelerate identification of molten salt corrosion-resistant materials. Those materials can be used in energy applications including molten salt nuclear reactors, concentrated solar plants, and thermal storage.
Potential Impact: 
This high-throughput material compatability evaluation technology would dramatically lower the cost required to identify corrosion resistant metal alloy and molten salt pairs. This capability would enable better-performing, lower-cost, and/or more durable molten salt nuclear reactors, concentrating solar power plants, and thermal storage systems and consequently would:
Security: 
Mitigate the costs and risks associated with adapting to climate change and enable more diversified domestically-produced energy options
Environment: 
Enable proliferation of lower-emission energy technologies
Economy: 
Enhance U.S. economic productivity by reducing the cost of generating electric power
Contacts
ARPA-E Program Director: 
Dr. Zak Fang
Project Contact: 
Prof. Adrien Couet
Partners
Argonne National Laboratory
Release Date: 
11/15/2018