DOE SunShot Initiative funds Mines collaborative research on solar storage

GOLDEN, Colo., June 3, 2014 – As part of the U.S. Department of Energy’s SunShot Initiative to drive down the cost of solar-based power generation, Colorado School of Mines, in partnership with Abengoa and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, received a two-year, $1 million award to develop a new method for storing solar energy.

The SunShot Initiative funds six awardees, for $10 million total, for the “Concentrating Solar Power: Efficiently Leveraging Equilibrium Mechanisms for Engineering New Thermochemical Storage (CSP: ELEMENTS)” funding program. It supports development of thermochemical energy storage systems that can validate a cost of less than or equal to $15 per kilowatt-hour-thermal and operate at temperatures greater than or equal to 650 degrees Celsius

Greg Jackson, head of the Department of Mechanical Engineering at Mines, will lead the project. It explores the use of highly reducible oxides (perovskites from earth abundant elements) to store concentrated solar energy both in heat and chemical bonds. The technology has the potential to allow concentrated solar power plants to utilize stored energy for continued plant operation through the night or other periods of low solar insolation. 

Jackson is joined by Mines mechanical engineering colleagues Robert Braun and Robert Kee, as well as Ryan O’Hayre from the George S. Ansell Department of Metallurgical and Materials Engineering, to work on materials development and system design of the novel energy storage concept. Abengoa’s Christina Lopez will lead efforts on systems integration and techno-economic analysis, focusing on the potential for commercializing this technology in future solar plant projects.

Zhiwen Ma at NREL will lead an effort with the other team partners to adapt NREL’s near blackbody solar receiver design to operate as a reactor for capturing the sun’s energy as storable thermochemical energy in perovskite particles. NREL will use its high flux solar furnace to verify the solar energy conversion and the solar thermal/chemical processes. 

The award was announced on May 21 at the annual SunShot Grand Challenge Summit held in Anaheim, which brought together more than 800 solar energy leaders from industry, academia, the policymaking community, and the DOE’s national laboratories. For more information on the other awards, see the DOE website.



Karen Gilbert, Director of Public Relations, Colorado School of Mines / 303-273-3541 /