Researchers from the Masdar Institute have discovered a new, low-cost, eco-friendly, and highly efficient way to store solar energy using desert sand. They have successfully proved that desert sand from the UAE could be used in concentrated solar power (CSP) systems to store solar thermal energy.
In CSP, mirrors are used to reflect solar thermal energy onto a small area, mostly a tower filled with a material capable of storing heat and then converting it into electricity.
In deserts, desert sand is hardly of any use. However, in this project, desert sand from the UAE is used as a thermal energy storage (TES) material.
This research project is named ‘Sandstock’. Research has revealed that the sand could store solar energy up to 1000°C, making it a feasible and cost-effective alternative to the current materials being used.
Scientists have carried out a number of tests to study the chemical composition of the sand. They found that the sand contained quartz and carbonate materials, which forms the right composition needed for thermal storage.