Publication Date


Document Type


First Advisor

Shelton, John

Degree Name

M.S. (Master of Science)

Legacy Department

Department of Mechanical Engineering


Mechanical engineering; Nanotechnology


Molten salts are showing great potential to replace current heat transfer and thermal energy storage fluids in concentrated solar plants because of their capability to maximize thermal energy storage, greater stability, cost effectiveness and significant thermal properties. However one of the major drawbacks of using molten salt as heat transfer fluid is that they are in solid state at room temperature and they have a high freezing point. Hence, significant resources would be required to maintain it in liquid form. If molten salt freezes while in operation, it would eventually damage piping network due to its volume shrinkage along with rendering the entire plant inoperable. It is long known that addition of nanoparticle suspensions has led to significant changes in thermal properties of fluids. In this investigation, aluminum oxide and titanium oxide nanoparticles of varying concentrations are added to molten salt/solar salt system consisting of 60% sodium nitrate and 40% potassium nitrate. Using differential scanning calorimeter, an attempt will be made to investigate changes in heat capacity of system, depression in freezing point and changes in latent heat of fusion. Scanning electron microscope will be used to take images of samples to study changes in micro-structure of mixture, ensure uniform distribution of nanoparticle in system and verify authenticity of materials used for experimentation. Due to enormous magnitude of CSP plant, actual implementation of molten salt system is on a large scale. With this investigation, even microscopic enhancement in heat capacity and slight lowering of freezing point will lead to greater benefits in terms of efficiency and cost of operation of plant. These results will further the argument for viability of molten salt as a heat transfer fluid and thermal storage system in CSP. One of the objective of this experimentation is to also collect experimental data which can be used for establishing relation between concentration of nanoparticles and change in thermophysical properties of molten salt for various types of nanoparticles.


Advisors: John Shelton.||Committee members: Pradip Majumdar; Sahar Vahabzadeh.||Includes bibliographical references.||Includes illustrations.


v, 66 pages




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