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Title: Spatial and temporal modeling of sub- and supercritical thermal energy storage

This paper describes a thermodynamic model that simulates the discharge cycle of a single-tank thermal energy storage (TES) system that can operate from the two-phase (liquid-vapor) to supercritical regimes for storage fluid temperatures typical of concentrating solar power plants. State-of-the-art TES design utilizes a two-tank system with molten nitrate salts; one major problem is the high capital cost of the salts (International Renewable Energy Agency, 2012). The alternate approach explored here opens up the use of low-cost fluids by considering operation at higher pressures associated with the two-phase and supercritical regimes. The main challenge to such a system is its high pressures and temperatures which necessitate a relatively high-cost containment vessel that represents a large fraction of the system capital cost. To mitigate this cost, the proposed design utilizes a single-tank TES system, effectively halving the required wall material. A single-tank approach also significantly reduces the complexity of the system in comparison to the two-tank systems, which require expensive pumps and external heat exchangers. A thermodynamic model is used to evaluate system performance; in particular it predicts the volume of tank wall material needed to encapsulate the storage fluid. The transient temperature of the tank is observed to remain hottestmore » at the storage tank exit, which is beneficial to system operation. It is also shown that there is an optimum storage fluid loading that generates a given turbine energy output while minimizing the required tank wall material. Overall, this study explores opportunities to further improve current solar thermal technologies. The proposed single-tank system shows promise for decreasing the cost of thermal energy storage. (C) 2014 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.« less
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Publication Date:
OSTI Identifier:
DOE Contract Number:
Resource Type:
Journal Article
Resource Relation:
Journal Name: Solar Energy; Journal Volume: 103
Sponsoring Org:
USDOE Advanced Research Projects Agency - Energy (ARPA-E)
Country of Publication:
United States