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High-Temperature Thermal Storage for Light Metal Production

Research Triangle Institute (RTI)
High Operating Temperature Transfer and Storage (HOTTS) System for Light Metal Production
Program: 
ARPA-E Award: 
$3,120,541
Location: 
Research Triangle Park, NC
Project Term: 
02/06/2014 to 03/06/2017
Project Status: 
ALUMNI
Technical Categories: 
Critical Need: 
Primary production of lightweight metals such as aluminum, titanium, and magnesium is an energy-intensive and expensive process that results in significant carbon dioxide (CO2) and other emissions. Lowering the energy consumption, cost, and emissions associated with processing light metals would make them competitive with incumbent structural metals such as steel. Enabling widespread use of light metals in vehicles and aircraft--without compromising performance or safety--would substantially reduce fuel consumption and CO2 emissions from transportation.
Project Innovation + Advantages: 
Research Triangle Institute (RTI) is developing a high-quality concentrating solar thermal energy transport and storage system for use in light metals manufacturing. A challenge with integrating renewable energy into light metals manufacturing has been the need for large quantities of very high temperature heat. RTI's technology overcomes this challenge with a specialized heat transfer powder. This powder can be heated to temperatures of 1100 degrees Celsius with concentrating solar thermal energy, some 400 degrees Celsius higher than conventional solutions. Because the heat transfer fluid can also store thermal energy, metal manufacturing plants can continue to operate even when the sun is not shining. RTI will also develop advanced materials that will protect the system's components from the accelerated degradation experienced at these high operating temperatures. This technology will enable constant, high-temperature operation of the light metals production process with reduced CO2 emissions.
Potential Impact: 
If successful, RTI's thermal storage system would enable cost-effective, efficient use of solar energy in domestic metals manufacturing processes.
Security: 
Light-weighting vehicles to improve fuel efficiency could reduce U.S. dependence on foreign fossil fuel resources used in the transportation industry.
Environment: 
Powering light metals production with concentrated solar thermal energy could significantly reduce the carbon footprint throughout the industry.
Economy: 
Employing renewable energy technologies to manufacture light metals could reduce costs, making light metals more accessible for transportation and other industries.
Contacts
ARPA-E Program Director: 
Dr. Christopher Atkinson
Project Contact: 
Mr. Gary Howe
Partners
North Carolina State University
Release Date: 
9/19/2013