CAVS Researcher Awarded Department of Energy Grant

December 8, 2022

Dr. Like Li
Dr. Like Li
Photo submitted
Like Li, a Center for Advanced Vehicular Systems' researcher, and an assistant professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering, and his team members at MSU and others from a national laboratory and universities have been awarded a Department of Energy grant of $3 million.

"Bringing this award to Mississippi State is very exciting," Li said. "Over the last several years, we have established strong connections with DOE national labs like NREL and Sandia and other universities and industrial partners in the solar energy areas. I look forward to working with the whole team on this project."

Mississippi State's grant members, including Li, Heejin Cho and Ben Xu, all from the mechanical engineering department, will receive a total of $430,000 of the $3 million. The money will fund a project entitled "Light Trapping, Enclosed Planar-Cavity Receiver for Heating Particles to Enable Low-Cost Energy Storage and Chemical Processes." In addition to his MSU team members, the project is being led by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory. Other key team members include colleagues from Mississippi State University, Purdue University, Colorado School of Mines and industrial partners.

Li said that over the course of three years, the project team will design, develop and test a 100-kilowatt solar receiver that will deliver thermal energy to heat solid particles to temperatures greater than 700°C for energy storage, power generation or industrial process heat purposes. This innovative approach encloses the particles in a nickel-alloy receiver, shaped to "trap the light" by preventing energy from being re-emitted back to the environment. He said the team will demonstrate the novel receiver concept and performance with high thermal efficiency, long service lifetime and low system cost.

"Design, development and demonstration (D3) of high-temperature solar receivers and reactors are critical steps in developing cost-effective thermal storage systems that will help make significant progress towards deploying clean and renewable energy like solar and mitigating climate change," Li said.

"This award will enable us to develop and demonstrate a new type of solar receiver," Li explained. "It will contribute to the research and development of concentrating solar-thermal power technologies that help reduce costs and enable long-duration solar energy storage and carbon-free industrial processes in the United States."

Previously, Li has been a part of a nationwide team that was awarded a $2.5 million grant from the US Department of Energy's Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy through the Solar Energy Technologies Office Fiscal Year 2019 funding program.

Li earned a bachelor's degree in 2007 from Central South University in China, and a master's in mechanical engineering from Beijing University of Aeronautics and Astronautics in 2010 and a doctoral degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Florida in 2013. His research interests include fluid flow, heat and mass transfer in microscale materials/structures, and macroscale chemical reactors. Li also leads the Thermal Fluids and Energy Conversion group at Mississippi State.

Mississippi State University's Department of Mechanical Engineering is the largest engineering program at MSU and has a long history of quality engineering education and research.

By Camille Carskadon