Solid particles can operate at higher temperature than current molten salt or oil, and they can be a heat-transfer and storage medium in a concentrating solar power (CSP) system. By using inexpensive solid particles and containment material for thermal energy storage (TES), the particle-TES cost can be significantly lower than other TES methods such as a nitrate-salt system. The particle-TES system can hold hot particles at more than 800°C with high thermal performance. The high particle temperatures increase the temperature difference between the hot and cold particles, and they improve the TES capacity. The particle-based CSP system is able to support high-efficiency power generation, such as the supercritical carbon-dioxide Brayton power cycle, to achieve >50% thermal-electric conversion efficiency. This paper describes a solid particle-TES system that integrates into a CSP plant. The hot particles discharge to a heat exchanger to drive the power cycle. The returning cold particles circulate through a particle receiver to absorb solar heat and charge the TES. This paper shows the design of a particle-TES system including containment silos, foundation, silo insulation, and particle materials. The analysis provides results for four TES capacities and two silo configurations. The design analysis indicates that the system can achieve high thermal efficiency, storage effectiveness (i.e., percentage usage of the hot particles), and exergetic efficiency. An insulation method for the hot silo was considered. The particle-TES system can achieve high performance and low cost, and it holds potential for next-generation CSP technology.

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