Volumetric heat transfer coefficients for direct-contact heat exchange between air and molten nitrate salt have been measured as a function of air and salt flow rates at 350° C salt inlet temperature. Using these heat transfer data for a packed column-type heat exchanger, an economic analysis was used to compare direct-contact heat exchange with conventional finned-tube heat exchangers. High volumetric rates of heat transfer (2000–3000 W/m3 °C) and flexibility in choice of materials of construction allow one to realize significant economic benefits by using direct-contact heat exchange in this application.

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