Date Thesis Awarded

5-2017

Document Type

Honors Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelors of Science (BS)

Department

Physics

Advisor

Willam Cooke

Committee Member

Mainak Patel

Committee Member

Gina Hoatson

Abstract

Solar central receiver power plants are an up-and-coming clean energy option which make use of concentrated solar power. In order to function, these systems must be able to store molten “solar salt” (40% potassium nitrate, 60% sodium nitrate), which has proven to be highly corrosive to stainless steel. Slowing the corrosion rate of stainless steel when exposed to molten salt would be a significant step in the feasibility and cost-effectiveness of solar central receiver power plants, but in order to test the effectiveness of various treatments, we first need a method of characterizing the thickness of the corrosion layer. We have developed a means of determining the thickness of the corrosion layer by examining the oxygen and iron content at varying depths of a stainless steel sample exposed to molten salt using energy dispersive x-ray spectroscopy at varying accelerating voltages, enabling a non-invasive, non-destructive technique for this necessary characterization.

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