Advanced Ceramic Technologies for Realizing Sensors for Concentrating Solar Power Systems

Period of Performance: 01/01/2014 - 12/31/2014


Phase 2 SBIR

Recipient Firm

Sporian Microsystems, Inc.
515 Courtney Way Suite B
Lafayette, CO 80026
Principal Investigator
Firm POC


Advancements are needed to improve and optimize the performance of existing and future concentrating solar power (CSP) plants by developing and improving the reliability of advanced instrumentation. A need has been identified for improved pressure, temperature, and flow sensors for existing and emerging CSP heat transfer and thermal storage fluids. The technical challenges of developing such sensors include: small size, high reliability, and harsh environment operation including very high temperatures (600‐1300oC) and highly corrosive environments. Sporian proposes to work with CSP OEMs and industry leaders to develop such small, high reliability, high temperature operable, corrosion resistant sensors, based on leveraging Sporian’s past experience with high temperature sensors and packaging, and facilitative ceramic electronics packaging technologies. In this Phase I effort, Sporian worked with OEMs, DOE, and academic partners to identify key CSP sensing and system requirements. The suitability of candidate sensor and select packaging materials were experimentally evaluated in CSP industry preferred molten salt environments. Preliminary concepts of temperature/pressure and temperature/flow sensor suites as well as corrosion resistive packaging strategies for advanced HTF and TES applications were developed. Prototype sensor probes were designed and constructed and demonstrated. Based on the results of Phase I, the Phase II will include continued collaboration with CSP industry stakeholders, HTF/TES capable pressure and flow design and process development, several rounds of full system prototyping, rigorous lab scale testing, and multiple tests/demonstrations in OEM application relevant environment CSP systems. Commercial Applications and Other Benefits The proposed sensor has the potential to improve the efficiency and economic viability of CSP systems. This, in turn, will help realize the full potential of CSP to provide clean, sustainable electric power and to enhance America’s energy independence. These high temperature sensors could have a variety of additional applications for nuclear power generation, fossil fuel power generation, concentrating solar fuels, and transportation systems.