Conversion of direct solar energy, in particular the Concentrated Solar Power (CSP) technologies, has a significant role on conventional energy cost and efficiency. A single tank thermocline Thermal Energy Storage (TES) system is accountable for the overall efficiency of this conversion system. A single tank TES system has a thermocline region that produces the temperature gradient between hot and cold storage fluid by density difference. The overall energy storage capacity depends on sustaining of this region at uniform manner. This paper analyzes how the difference in the percentage of porous medium influences the effectiveness of the flow-distribution and hence, the overall performance of the TES system. The effectiveness is assessed by the optimal flow distribution. The optimal distribution is obtained by examining the velocity profile at any horizontal plane. This plane should be uniform for sustaining the thermocline region during the operation period. To achieve a uniform velocity distribution, two symmetric perforated plate flow distributors were placed in the tank. The distributors were positioned near the inlet and outlet, and checked the performance by varying the percentage of porous medium since the distribution is influenced by the porosity. Porous distributors with hexagonal shape pore were considered and Hitec® molten salt was used as a heat transfer fluid. These respective percentages of porosity affect the flow distribution throughout the tank during the flow distribution. The standard deviations of the velocity field at different positions along z-plane and thermal diffusivity were analyzed. The analyses of our cases were done to distinguish a configuration for the minimum thermal diffusivity and velocity deviation from the mean flow.
A finite volume based computational fluid dynamics software was used to execute the computational analysis.