AIKEN, SC (WFXG) – Savannah River National Laboratory has licensed its high-performance metal hydride-based thermal energy storage technology for concentrating solar power to United Sun Systems (USS), a small solar technology company.

This thermal energy storage technology intensifies the storage of heat by more than ten times compared to latent and sensible heat storage technologies. The improved performance of the system is due to the use of metal-hydride materials – chemical compounds containing a metal such as aluminum that are bonded to hydrogen – that efficiently store heat in chemical bonds. Researchers at Savannah River National Laboratory developed this approach because hydride materials offer very dense sources to store thermal energy while being inexpensive and rechargeable without degradation in storage capacity. These hydrides are similar to the materials that can be used in fuel cells to store and release hydrogen.

“By using our unique expertise, we have been able to develop an inexpensive way to store solar energy that makes this renewable energy source cost competitive with fossil fuels,” said Dr. Terry A. Michalske, Savannah River National Laboratory Director. “We are pleased to be partnering with United Sun Systems and to share our innovation with the solar industry.”

“Prior to the discovery of this class of hydride materials, storing heat at this temperature was only possible using expensive and highly corrosive materials,” said Dr. Ragaiy Zidan, Advisory Scientist, Savannah River National Laboratory and inventor of the technology. “This is a game changing technology for the concentrated solar power sector that will drastically reduce its cost and improve its performance.”

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