Compared to Solar Photovoltaics (PV), Concentrated Solar Power (CSP) can store the excess solar thermal energy, extend the power generation at night and cloudy days, and levelize the mismatch between energy demand and supply. To make CSP competitive, Thermal Energy Storage (TES) system filled with phase change material (PCM) is a promising indirect energy storage technique, compared to the TES system using concrete or river rocks. It is of great interests to solar thermal community to apply the latent heat thermal energy storage (LHTES) system for large scale CSP application, because PCMs can store more thermal energy due to the latent heat during the melting/freezing process. Therefore, a comprehensive parametric analysis of LHTES system is necessary in order to improve its systematic performance, since LHTES system has a relatively low energy storage efficiency compared to TES systems using sensible materials.
In this study, an 11-dimensionless-parameter space of LHTES system was developed, by considering only the technical constraints (materials properties and operation parameters), instead of economic constraints. Then the parametric analysis was performed based on a 1D enthalpy-based transient model, and the energy storage efficiency was used as the objective function to minimize the number of variables in the parameter space. It was found that Stanton number (St), PCM radius (r), and void fraction (ε) are the three most important ones. The sensitivity study was conducted then based on the three dimensionless-parameter space which will significantly influence the system performance. The results of this study make LHTES system competitive with TES system using sensible materials in terms of energy storage efficiency.