The National Solar Thermal Test Facility (NSTTF) at Sandia National Laboratories is conducting research on a Generation 3 Particle Pilot Plant (G3P3) that uses falling sandlike particles as the heat transfer medium. The system will include a thermal energy storage (TES) bin with a capacity of 6 MWht¬ requiring ∼120,000 kg of flowing particles. Testing and modeling were conducted to develop a validated modeling tool to understand temporal and spatial temperature distributions within the storage bin as it charges and discharges.

Flow and energy transport in funnel-flow was modeled using volume averaged conservation equations coupled with level set interface tracking equations that prescribe the dynamic geometry of particle flow within the storage bin. A thin layer of particles on top of the particle bed was allowed to flow toward the center and into the flow channel above the outlet.

Model results were validated using particle discharge temperatures taken from thermocouples mounted throughout a small steel bin. The model was then used to predict heat loss during charging, storing, and discharging operational modes at the G3P3 scale. Comparative results from the modeling and testing of the small bin indicate that the model captures many of the salient features of the transient particle outlet temperature over time.

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