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A new type of salt gradient solar pond for electricity generation

Country of Origin: Armenia
Reference Number: TOAM20161020001
Publication Date: 1 November 2016

Summary

An Armenian company engaged in utilization of solar energy is planning to construct, study and use a salt gradient solar pond. Such pond will serve as a long term and efficient source of thermal energy, which can be used for heating and/or production of electricity. Partners are sought for technical cooperation agreement and research cooperation agreement.

Description

An Armenian Company working in the field of alternative energy sources has elaborated several innovative methods for increasing the efficiency of solar photovoltaic cells, and new approach for converting solar thermal energy into electrical one. These methods have been patented and described in several articles published in local and international journals. Working prototypes of units which demonstrate and prove the developed principles are created.
For efficient use of solar thermal energy the solar ponds have prominent capacities. Solar pond is a thermo-insulated reservoir filled with saline water in which, due to absorption of solar radiation, the liquid is divided into a surface cold (fresh) layer and hot, heavy bottom (saline) layer, from which the hot water can be used for heating. Besides, the temperature difference between two layers, which can achieve 60 °C, is used for electricity generation, for example, by turbo generator with a Rankine working cycle. Depending on the size of solar pond, the amount of accumulated thermal energy may be very high. Such ponds are created only in a few countries: Israel, Chile, USA, India, Saudi Arabia, Australia and Egypt. It is proposed the creation of small experimental solar pond, its studying and testing in Armenian conditions. Armenia has a rich amount of solar energy in particular during summer. Optimal regimes of thermal energy reception and storage will be obtained, depending on the input parameters and pond design. Also the system of pipes and heat exchangers for harvesting and distribution of thermal energy will be designed and fabricated. The problem of solar pond is that after use of hot accumulated in bottom layer the temperature difference between top and bottom layers is decreased and long time is needed to restore this difference. It is proposed to heat quickly the outlet low temperature water from the heat exchangers by use of solar collectors for maintaining solar pond efficiency.
Besides, a proprietary electrochemical generator based on selective membrane assembly and utilization of temperature/salt gradient will be created allowing production of additional electric energy.
The company is looking for partners for technical cooperation and research cooperation agreement in order to pool the R&D and technological capacities to providing equipment for constructing the solar pond and jointly test its performance.

Advantages and Innovations

The advantage of the proposed solar pond is that it is simultaneously a collector and accumulator of solar energy. It needs lower cost of investment in comparison with common solar collectors. It is convenient for construction in the rural areas not suitable for agriculture and having level of solar radiation. In Armenia there is available large amount of inexpensive natural salt that is used for filling solar pond.
Innovation consists in modification of solar pond’s design and application of patented special electrochemical generator which converts thermal energy and salt gradient for production of electricity. This generator is based on the electrodialysis process.

Stage Of Development

Under development/lab tested

Stage Of Development Comment

The company specialists have designed fabricated and tested the electrochemical generator for power generation. An Armenian patent is received.

Requested partner

R&D organisations and universities studying the use of solar energy for production of thermal and electric energy willing to cooperate within HORIZON 2020 Grant Programs.
SMEs engaged in use of solar thermal energy ready to conclude technical and research cooperation agreement for providing equipment and jointly testing solar pond performance. Successful implementation of the joint work will promote the spread of solar pond manufacturing and use.

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