Concentrating solar power (CSP) plants can provide dispatchable power with the thermal energy storage (TES) capability for greater renewable-energy grid penetration. To increase the market competitiveness, CSP technology needs to increase the solar-to-electric efficiency and reduce costs in the areas of solar collection from the heliostat field to the receiver, energy conversion systems, and TES. The current state-of-the-art molten-salt systems have limitations regarding both the potential for cost reduction and improvements in performance. Even with significant improvements in operating performance, these systems face major challenges to satisfy the performance targets, which include high-temperature stability (>650°C), low freezing point (<0°C), and material compatibility with high-temperature metals (>650°C) at a reduced cost. The fluidized-bed CSP (FB-CSP) plant being developed by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) has the potential to overcome the above issues with substantially lower cost. The particle receiver is a critical component to enable the FB-CSP system.
This paper introduces the development of an innovative receiver design using the blackbody design mechanism by collecting solar heat with absorber tubes that transfer the radiant heat to flowing particles. The particle and receiver materials can withstand temperatures of >1000°C because the receiver can use low-cost materials, such as ceramics and stainless steel, and the solid particles can be any low-cost, stable materials such as sand or ash for particle containment and TES. The heated particles can be stored in containers for TES or supply heat for power generation. This study investigated the performance of convection, reflection, and infrared (IR) re-radiation losses on the absorber solar receiving side. We developed a flux model to predict the reflection losses from the absorber tubes based on the NREL SolTrace program, and conducted thermal modeling by using the Fluent Software. This paper presents the thermal modeling and results on the receiver performance. The receiver configuration may have broad applications for different heattransfer fluids (HTFs), including gas, liquid, or the solid particle-based system in our receiver development.