Determining the Optimal Heat Transfer Material for Solar Plant Design
Topics: Temperature, Heat Transfer, and Specific Heat
This activity covers temperature, heat transfer, and heat capacity in the context of renewable and sustainable energy. The setting is a solar plant that uses thousands of mirrors to reflect sunlight onto the top of a tower, where the thermal energy from the sun is transferred to a liquid. The liquid then flows into an electric plant where the stored thermal energy is converted to electrical power. By designing and testing experiments, students consider heat capacity and boiling point as they establish the best substance for storing and transferring thermal energy.
The research reported here was supported by the Institute of Education Sciences, U.S. Department of Education, through Grants R305A100069 and R305A170049 to WestEd. The opinions expressed are those of the authors and do not represent views of the Institute or the U.S. Department of Education.