Solid particle receivers provide an opportunity to run concentrating solar tower receivers at higher temperatures and increased overall system efficiencies. The design of the bins used for storing and managing the flow of particles creates engineering challenges in minimizing thermomechanical stress and heat loss. An optimization study of mechanical stress and heat loss was performed at the National Solar Thermal Test Facility at Sandia National Laboratories to determine the geometry of the hot particle storage hopper for a 1 MWt pilot plant facility. Modeling of heat loss was performed on hopper designs with a range of geometric parameters with the goal of providing uniform mass flow of bulk solids with no clogging, minimizing heat loss, and reducing thermomechanical stresses. The heat loss calculation included an analysis of the particle temperatures using a thermal resistance network that included the insulation and hopper. A plot of the total heat loss as a function of geometry and required thicknesses to accommodate thermomechanical stresses revealed suitable designs. In addition to the geometries related to flow type and mechanical stress, this study characterized flow related properties of CARBO HSP 40/70 and Accucast ID50-K in contact with refractory insulation. This insulation internally lines the hopper to prevent heat loss and allow for low cost structural materials to be used for bin construction. The wall friction angle, effective angle of friction, and cohesive strength of the bulk solid were variables that were determined from empirical analysis of the particles at temperatures up to 600°C.

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