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Terrafore Technologies LLC (Terrafore) is a technology development company, active in the fields of energy efficiency and renewable energy with a specific focus on Thermal Energy Storage (TES) for use with Concentrating Solar Thermal Power (CSP), fossil, nuclear power plants, industrial processes, and commercial buildings.

Under contract with the United States Department of Energy, TES increases the value proposition for power-generating plants, provides operational flexibility and capacity to a power utility. A utility-scale CSP plant with TES can generate and dispatch electricity when it wants and not just when the sun shines.

However, for TES to be widely adopted, the capital costs of the TES system must be lowered.

Terrafore has developed innovative TES technologies that can potentially reduce the cost of storing thermal energy by over 50% when compared with the current practice of storing thermal energy as sensible heat in molten salts using hot and cold containers.

Terrafore’s innovative Terrafore technologies are:

  • TerraCaps TM , an Encapsulated Phase Change Material (EPCM) that stores heat as combination of sensible and phase change heat in inorganic eutectic salts.
  • TerraKline TM , an actively managed Dual-Media Thermocline Energy Storage (DMTES) that stores heat in a dual-media using molten salt or oil and a low-cost solid such as rock or granite or quartzite.

EPCM- TES

Terrafore compared the cost of the conventional two-tank molten salt storage system with their single tank Encapsulated Phase Change Materials Thermal Energy Storage (EPCM-TES) and showed that the costs of TES can be reduced by over 40% in the near term and potentially achieve the SunShot goal of $15 per kWh.

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TerraKline™

Storing thermal energy by thermally stratifying the hot fluid layer on top of a cold fluid layer in a single tank packed with granite particles and then filling the volume between the particles with a fluid such as molten salt or oil.

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Terrafore has decades of experience working with molten salts, sensors, and advanced control systems.

Technology Highlights

  • Terrafore’s patented encapsulated thermal storage storage reduces the cost of storing thermal energy towards meeting the Department of Energy’s SunShot cost goal. Terrafore’s capsules TerraCaps can be used to store energy in various salts with melting points from 300 C to 800 C. TerraCaps can be used for storing thermal energy from various CSP systems such as molten salt CSP, next-generation high temperature-CO2  CSP, Dish with  Stirling engine,  mini-tower with Brayton engines, Dish with hybrid CPV, and for thermal storage in process industries. Terrafore successfully made the capsules in laboratory. It is yet to be scaled-up for commercial use.
  • Terrafore displayed their innovative phase change capsules for storing thermal energy at the ARPA-E Transformative Energy Solutions Summit Showcase. Read this article in IEEE Spectrum
  • Terrafore’s dynamic mathematical models of various CSP – TES configurations using various Thermal Energy Storage and Solar Receivers (Solar Tower, Parabolic Trough and Linear Fresnel) were used to analyze the dynamic response to different utility dispatch profile and ancillary services, such as regulation, ramp rate, and day-ahead schedule utility profiles, on California Utility Grid.
    An analysis showed that using a 2-3 hour thermal storage with a 100MW power plant is adequate to provide flexibility to CSP power plants by providing ancillary services
  • Terrafore provided molten salt expertise for designing a Two-tank thermal storage for the 100 MW Crescent Dunes solar thermal project at Tonopah, Nevada.
  • Terrafore developed  TerraKline, a patented technology to eliminate degradation of thermocline in a dual-media of granite and molten salt or oil. Energy storage using thermal stratification in dual-media can reduce the cost of storing energy by over 35% when compared to a two-tank sensible heat storage in heat transfer fluids.