NEXTOWER takes a comprehensive conceptual and manufacturing approach that starts by optimizing for durability the ceramic materials to achieve 20-25 years of maintenance-free service receiver components, while increasing their operating temperature for thermodynamic efficiency. The actual exploitation of the hotter air (up to 800°C) is then crucially tied to the development of a high-temperature thermal storage, here inspired by nuclear fission GEN-IV technology and based on liquid lead by means of new corrosion resistant steels.
This project has received funding from EU H2020 programme under GA nº 721045
NEXTOWER shall introduce a set of innovative materials to boost the performance of atmospheric air-based concentrated solar power (CSP) systems to make them commercially viable. In particular, tower systems are appealing for the great environmental compatibility and offer tremendous potential for efficient (electrical and thermal) power generation. Yet, their industrial exploitation has been so far hindered by limitations in the materials used both for the central receiver – the core component – and for thermal storage. Such limitations dictate maximum working temperature and in-service overall durability (mainly driven by failure from thermal cycling and thermal shocks). Improving the efficiency of a tower system entails necessarily improving the central receiver upstream and possibly re-engineering the whole systems downstream to work longer and at much higher temperature, especially in the thermal storage compartment.