Main content area

Multi-layered solid-PCM thermocline thermal storage concept for CSP plants. Numerical analysis and perspectives

Galione, P.A., Pérez-Segarra, C.D., Rodríguez, I., Oliva, A., Rigola, J.
Applied energy 2015 v.142 pp. 337-351
exergy, fluid mechanics, heat transfer, prototypes, solar energy, temperature
Thermocline storage concept has been considered for more than a decade as a possible solution to reduce the huge cost of the storage system in concentrated solar power (CSP) plants. However, one of the drawbacks of this concept is the decrease in its performance throughout the time. The objective of this paper is to present a new thermocline-like storage concept, which aims at circumventing this issue. The proposed concept consists of a storage tank filled with a combination of solid material and encapsulated PCMs, forming a multi-layered packed bed, with molten salt as the heat transfer fluid. The performance evaluation of each of the prototypes proposed is virtually tested by means of a detailed numerical methodology which considers the heat transfer and fluid dynamics phenomena present in these devices. The virtual tests carried out are designed so as to take into account several charging and discharging cycles until periodic state is achieved, i.e. when the same amount of energy is stored/released in consecutive charging/discharging cycles. As a result, the dependence of the storage capacity on the PCMs temperatures, the total energy and exergy stored/released, as well as the efficiencies of the storing process are compared for the different thermocline, single PCM, cascaded PCM and the proposed multi-layered solid-PCM (MLSPCM) configurations. The analysis shows that the multi-layered solid-PCM concept is a promising alternative for thermal storage in CSP plants.