Honors Theses

Date of Award


Document Type

Undergraduate Thesis

Degree Name



Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering

Faculty Mentor

Kevin West


Grayson Dennis, Brooks Rabideau


Climate change is one of the most pressing issues facing humanity in the 21st century. A major contributing factor to this problem is the continued use of fossil-fuel based sources for energy. Concentrated solar power (CST) with thermal energy storage (TES) provides a potential opportunity to support this transition away from fossil fuels but suffers from high costs and extended downtimes. Current heat transfer fluids used in these processes often consist of a mixture of alkali metal nitrates with melting points above 200°C. For CST and TES to be viable, a thermally stable, low melting fluid is needed. Ionic liquids (ILs) provide a very feasible form of TES due to their high heat capacities and low melting points. Thermally robust ILs can be synthesized by limiting the structural diversity of the species to thermally stable moieties on the cation and coupling these cations with a thermally stable anion. However, these synthetic restrictions result in salts with melting points at or above 100°C. Mixtures of these salts, with each other or with structurally similar molecular species, can yield fluids with melting temperatures low enough to be effective thermal storage fluids. In this project, the phase equilibrium of a binary mixture of tetraphenyl phosphonium bistriflimide (TPP) and benzanilide was examined to provide valuable information on eutectic behavior for organic ionic liquids with aromatic compounds. The use of digital scanning calorimetry (DSC) (Solid/Liquid Equilibrium, SLE) along with cloud-point analysis (Liquid/Liquid Equilibrium, LLE) was used to study this behavior. The phase transitions, including eutectic behavior, are expressed on a binary T-x diagram and show how the phase behavior varies with temperature and composition. Solid/liquid equilibrium behavior is compared to the ideal solution model to aid in understanding molecular level interactions in the mixture. The study showed a minimum eutectic melting temperature of below 100 °C and liquid-liquid interactions in compositions having high amounts of TPP compared to benzanilide. The findings of this study can be used to develop further ILs and their v mixtures as viable thermal energy storage fluids that could dramatically reduce the cost and difficulty of operating CST at scale.


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