A 1 MWt falling particle receiver prototype was designed, built and is being evaluated at Sandia National Laboratories, National Solar Thermal Test Facility (NSTTF). The current prototype has a 1 m2 aperture facing the north field. The current aperture configuration is susceptible to heat and particle losses through the receiver aperture. Several options are being considered for the next design iteration to reduce the risk of heat and particle losses, in addition to improving the receiver efficiency to target levels of ∼90%. One option is to cover the receiver aperture with a highly durable and transmissive material such as quartz glass. Quartz glass has high transmittance for wavelengths less than 2.5 microns and low transmittance for wavelengths greater than 2.5 microns to help trap the heat inside the receiver.
To evaluate the receiver optical performance, ray-tracing models were set up for several different aperture cover configurations. The falling particle receiver is modeled as a box with a 1 m2 aperture on the north side wall. The box dimensions are 1.57 m wide × 1.77 m tall × 1.67 m deep. The walls are composed of RSLE material modeled as Lambertian surfaces with reflectance of either 0.9 for the pristine condition or 0.5 for soiled walls. The quartz half-shell tubes are 1.46 m long with 105 mm and 110 mm inner and outer diameters, respectively. The half-shell tubes are arranged vertically and slant forward at the top by 30 degrees. Four configurations were considered: concave side of the half-shells facing away from the receiver aperture with (1) no spacing and (2) high spacing between the tubes, and concave side of the half-shells facing the aperture with (3) no spacing and (4) high spacing between the tubes. The particle curtain, in the first modeling approach, is modeled as a diffuse surface with transmittance, reflectance, and absorptance values, which are based on estimates from previous experiments for varying particle flow rates. The incident radiation is from the full NSTTF heliostat field with a single aimpoint at the center of the receiver aperture. The direct incident rays and reflected and scattered rays off the internal receiver surfaces are recorded on the internal walls and particle curtain surfaces as net incident irradiance. The net incident irradiances on the internal walls and particle curtain for the different aperture cover configuration are compared to the baseline configuration. In all cases, just from optical performance alone, the net incident irradiance is reduced from the baseline. However, it is expected that the quartz half-shells will reduce the convective and thermal radiation losses through the aperture. These ray-tracing results will be used as boundary conditions in computational fluid dynamics (CFD) analyses to determine the net receiver efficiency and optimal configuration for the quartz half-shells that minimize heat losses and maximize thermal efficiency.