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Russian and Spanish scientists unlock secret to boosting solar power plants’ efficiency

Researchers have discovered that titanium dioxide nanofluids outperform other analogous materials in heat transfer applications presently used in solar energy

MOSCOW, November 14. /TASS/. Researchers from the Siberian Federal University (SFU) together with colleagues from Spain have discovered that titanium dioxide (TiO2) nanofluids outperform other analogous materials in heat transfer applications presently used in solar energy. The SFU’s press office reported the breakthrough.

TiO2-based nanofluids have higher thermal conductivity than liquids traditionally used at solar stations implying that their usage can boost the efficiency of solar power plants. A research article on this topic has been published in the journal Renewable Energy. The efficiency of TiO2-based nanofluids is notably higher than that of parallel materials - by 53% for isobaric thermal capacity and by 26% for overall thermal conductivity.

Among the several types of solar power plants currently operating, all of them in one way or another convert solar energy to electricity. One of these technologies is based on a thermo-conductive liquid that is heated by the sun and further transmits the heat to a steam generator. As a thermo-conductive liquid, various oils are applied.

The study’s authors examined whether a liquid based on titanium dioxide (TiO2) can be applied to solar power plants. The researchers prepared a sample of liquid containing titanium oxide nanoparticles and tested its different physical properties: stability, density, viscosity, and thermal properties. The collected data was thoroughly compared with the characteristics of similar thermo-conducting liquids, presently used at solar power plants. It turns out that by introducing TiO2 nanoparticles one can ramp up the heat conductivity without any significant changes in density and viscosity of the liquid.

Thanks to the latest research breakthrough, once this nanoliquid is used rather than conventional thermal liquids, solar power plants will operate far more efficiently.