‘UAE’s desert sand ideal for storing solar energy’

desert AbdulazizAlHabib sxcThe sand can store solar energy up to 1000°C, making it a more efficient material as it can absorb energy at such high temperatures. (Image source: Abdulaziz AlHabib/sxc.hu)Researchers working at Masdar Institute have discovered that the UAE’s desert sand can be used in concentrated solar power facilities to store solar energy, making it a viable and cost effective alternative to the current materials being used

Project named Sandstock, the scientists carried out a number of tests using X-ray devices to analyse and study the chemical make up of the sand with results showing that the sand contained quartz and carbonate materials, which are the right compositions needed for thermal storage, Gulf News has reported.

The research also revealed that the sand could store solar energy up to 1000°C, making it a more efficient material as it can absorb energy at such high temperatures.

Dr Nicholas Calvet, assistant professor, department of mechanical and materials engineering, who oversaw the research and development of the project, said the findings would be a major benefit for the UAE’s sustainable energy solutions.

“The availability of this material in desert environments such as the UAE allows for significant cost reductions in concentrated solar power plants, which may use it both as thermal energy storage material and solar absorber.

“The success of the Sandstock project reflects the usability and practical benefits of the UAE desert sand,” he added.

Dr Bejhat Al Yousuf, interim provost, Masdar Institute, was also optimistic about the new findings.

“With the launch of the Masdar Institute Solar Platform (MISP) in November 2015, we have further broadened the scope of our solar energy research and we believe more success will follow in the months ahead,” she noted.

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