The overall efficiency of a concentrating solar power (CSP) plant depends on the effectiveness of thermal energy storage (TES) system (Kearney and Herrmann, 2002, “Assessment of a Molten Salt Heat Transfer Fluid,” ASME). A single tank TES system consists of a thermocline region which produces the temperature gradient between hot and cold storage fluid by density difference (Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, http://www.eere.energy.gov/basics/renewable_energy/thermal_storage.html). Preservation of this thermocline region in the tank during charging and discharging cycles depends on the uniformity of the velocity profile at any horizontal plane. Our objective is to maximize the uniformity of the velocity distribution using a pipe-network distributor by varying the number of holes, distance between the holes, position of the holes and number of distributor pipes. For simplicity, we consider that the diameter of the inlet, main pipe, the distributor pipes and the height and the width of the tank are constant. We use Hitec® molten salt as the storage medium and the commercial software Gambit 2.4.6 and Fluent 6.3 for the computational analysis. We analyze the standard deviation in the velocity field and compare the deviations at different positions of the tank height for different configurations. Since the distance of the holes from the inlet and their respective arrangements affects the flow distribution throughout the tank; we investigate the impacts of rearranging the holes position on flow distribution. Impact of the number of holes and distributor pipes are also analyzed. We analyze our findings to determine a configuration for the best case scenario.
Computational Analysis of a Pipe Flow Distributor for a Thermocline Based Thermal Energy Storage System
Contributed by the Solar Energy Division of ASME for publication in the Journal of Solar Energy Engineering. Manuscript received August 15, 2012; final manuscript received May 1, 2013; published online September 16, 2013. Assoc. Editor: Rainer Tamme.
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Afrin, S., Kumar, V., Bharathan, D., Glatzmaier, G. C., and Ma, Z. (September 16, 2013). "Computational Analysis of a Pipe Flow Distributor for a Thermocline Based Thermal Energy Storage System." ASME. J. Sol. Energy Eng. May 2014; 136(2): 021010. https://doi.org/10.1115/1.4024927
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