Institute for Thermal Energy Technology and Safety (ITES)

Liquid metal technology for concentrating solar power plants (CSP)

Generating electricity from renewable resources can help meeting some of the future energy needs and significantly reducing emissions in power generation. In addition to the use of wind and biomass, electricity generation in concentrated solar power plants (CSP) is a promising option. The two main pursued technical options of CSP work either by means of so-called parabolic troughs (line focusing) or by means of mirror fields and central towers (point focusing). In the respective receivers a heat transfer fluids is heated by the absorbed solar energy. This heat is then converted into electrical energy through heat exchangers and conventional steam power processes. The picture shows a solar tower of the solar power plant Solucar in southern Spain.

Research objectives
Within the framework of several pilot studies, the Karlsruhe Liquid Metal Laboratory (KALLA) investigates how components from the energy transmission chain of a concentrating solar power plant based on liquid metals can be represented. The specific focus is placed on high-temperature receivers, storage and transmission systems. Due to their excellent heat transfer properties and their heat storage capacity at high temperatures, liquid metals offer the potential to increase the time availability and efficiency of a solar thermal power plant. As part of the work, a pilot plant is built and operated. more



[1] Pacio, J. & Wetzel, T. (2013). Assessment of liquid metal technology status and research paths for their use as efficient heat transfer fluids in solar central receiver systems, Sol. Energy 93 (2013), 11–22.

[2] Flesch, J., Fritsch, A., Cammi, G., Marocco, L., Fellmoser, F., Pacio, J. & Wetzel, T. (2015), Construction of a test facility for demonstration of a liquid lead-bismuth-cooled 10 kW thermal receiver in a solar furnace arrangement - SOMMER, Energy Procedia 69 (2015), 1259–1268. International Conference on Concentrating Solar Power and Chemical Energy Systems, SolarPACES 2014.


Prof. Dr.-Ing. Thomas Wetzel
Tel. +49 721/608-46447