U.S. Department of Energy - Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy

SunShot Initiative

Multidisciplinary University Research Initiative: High Operating Temperature Fluids

In August 2012, DOE announced two awards under the Multidisciplinary University Research Initiative (MURI) to develop high-operating temperature heat-transfer fluids for concentrating solar power (CSP) applications. The following university teams were selected to work on fundamental materials discovery and demonstration to accelerate technology transfer into the marketplace and prepare a new generation of scientists and engineers to become leaders in the solar power industry.


Within MURI, the High Operating Temperature Fluids program focuses on making dramatic improvements to heat-transfer fluids (HTFs), which absorb thermal energy from the sun to drive a turbine to generate electricity. DOE has committed more than $10 million over five years for these two university-based projects to advance HTFs for CSP systems.


Today's state-of-the-art HTFs are only capable of operating at temperatures up to about 600°C, but temperatures in excess of 650°C are needed to reach thermal conversion efficiencies greater than 50%. The selected project teams are working to develop HTFs that are stable as a liquid up to 1300°C, while simultaneously achieving several target thermophysical properties. The discovery and validation of HTFs that can meet the stretch targets for thermal stability, melting point, and heat capacity would represent a critical step toward the SunShot goals for CSP systems.