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Solar Thermal Energy

Solar Energy can be converted to heat and/or electricity using solar thermal or photovoltaic route. There are several methods to generate electricity using solar thermal route. OEC is pursuing research on development of some of the solar thermal energy applications and heat storage materials.

Solar Thermal Dish Stirling Engine system installed in SEC

Solar dishes can be used to capture and concentrate direct normal radiation from Sun and coupled with Stirling Engine to convert the concentrated heat into electricity. Stirling engine is considered to be one of the most efficient heat engines. One of the advantages of this method is that no water is required, hence can be used in water deficient areas as well. Three units of Solar Thermal Dish Stirling Engine System, developed by a US company, which can generate grid quality AC electricity (230V, 50 Hz), up to 3 kW peak power at solar insolation of 850 W/m2, are installed & operational in the campus of National Institute of Solar Energy (NISE), Ministry of New and Renewable Energy, Gurugram. Each unit is producing up to 2.2 kW at 750 W/m2 in isolation.  The long term performance evaluation of these units is in progress for more than five years.

OEC is working with IIT Bombay on design and development of single cylinder free piston Stirling engine (FPSE) for net 3 kWe electrical output using solar energy and also other renewable energy as input. During the non-sunshine hours, it is possible to integrate biogas, natural gas or stored heat to get power from these engines round-the-clock. This work is in early stages of development.

OEC is also working with Institute of Chemical Technology, Mumbai, to develop suitable salts for thermal storage of heat, essential for extended utilization of solar energy. Under this collaborative project, various salt combinations suitable for temperature range150°C to 520°C have been identified. Two salt compositions in the temperature range of 1200C – 6200C have been developed under the project. R&D work is in progress to develop materials suitable for temperatures up to 7500C. OEC has decided to work with BARC, Mumbai to indigenously design and develop a 2 MWe Beam Down Concentrated Solar Thermal Power Plant. The plant construction is expected to start soon.

Project Team:            

  • Mr. Uday Shankar, DGM (Mech.)-Project Manager
  • Mr. Abhishek Kumar Singh, EE (Mech.)
  • Mr. Kishore K Menon, Project Associate
  • Mr. Parmod Vaishnav, Sr. Project Fellow
  • Mr. Rahul Prakash Nagpure, Sr. Project Fellow