concentrating solar power - College of Engineering & Natural Sciences

concentrating solar power

Innovative solar power research selected for major government funding

head and shoulder photo of a smiling woman with long dark hair wearing a black top and standing in front of laboratory equipment
Soroor Karimi

Climate change and its consequences have accelerated the quest for renewable, sustainable energy technology development the world over. One of the top sources of renewable/sustainable energy is solar power.

An expert in solar energy transfer and conversion, Assistant Professor of Mechanical Engineering Soroor Karimi recently learned that a research project on which she serves as principal investigator (PI) has been selected to receive $375,000 from the Small Innovative Projects in Solar (SIPS) funding program. SIPS is an initiative of the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Energy Technologies Office.

Of particles and power

Karimi’s project is Particle Flow Control in Concentrating Solar Power (CSP) Systems. She is conducting this research project with co-PI Nipun Goel from Western Washington University. Boise State University’s Todd Otanicar is collaborating as an external adviser.

three people standing side by side: man in green polo shirt, woman in blue blouse, man in blue polo shirt
Soroor Karimi with two of her research assistants — L: Keldon Anderson (Ph.D. student) and R: Lucas Lombard (TURC participant)

“Our aim is to develop a new design for controlling the flow of particles through a power tower located in CSP plants,” explained Karimi. “Assuming we are successful, the result will allow better control and/or higher response rates for heat transfer through CSP systems, thereby generating the required power on demand.”

One of the team’s main tasks will entail building and testing a prototype based on design principles developed by the drilling industry. This will enable verification of performance under high-temperature conditions.

Karimi and her team expect the next phase to begin in August. From there, the project should take approximately 1.5 years to complete. In addition to the direct benefits of SIPS support for research, the funding will enable Karimi to involve University of Tulsa undergraduate and graduate students in the research, which, in turn, will help them to deepen their own knowledge and skills.


Researching and developing energy systems for the future is exhilarating. Come join this vital work as a student in TU’s Department of Mechanical Engineering.