Numerical analysis of single tank thermocline thermal storage system for concentrated solar power plant

Samia Afrin, University of Texas at El Paso


The overall efficiency of a Concentrating Solar Power (CSP) plant depends on the effectiveness of Thermal Energy Storage (TES) system. A Single tank TES system has potential to provide effective solution. In a single tank TES system, a thermocline region, which produces the temperature gradient between hot and cold storage fluid by density difference, is used. 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. One of the major challenges for the single tank thermocline is actually maintaining the thermocline region in the tank, so that it does not spread out to occupy the entire tank. Since the thermocline is a horizontal surface, the hot and cold fluid must be introduce in such a way that it does not disturb the thermocline. If the fluid is introduced in a jet stream, it will disturb the thermocline and mix the hot and cold fluids into a homogeneous medium. So the objective of this thesis is to preserve the thermocline region by maximizing the uniformity of the velocity distribution. An ideal distributor will minimize the thermocline spreading and hence maximize the useable form of thermal energy storage in a single tank system. The performance of two different types of distributors: pipe flow distributor and honeycomb distributor, were checked. The effectiveness of the pipe flow distributor was checked by varying the dimension of the geometry i.e. number of holes, distance between the holes, position of the holes and number of distributor pipes. Thermal energy storage system from solar power relies on high temperature thermal storage units for continuous operation. The storage units should have facilitated with high thermal conductivity and heat capacity storage fluid. Hence it is necessary to find a better performing heat transfer fluid at higher operating temperature. Novel materials such as nanomaterial additives can become cost effective and can increase the operating range of the storage facilities to higher range of temperatures. In this work Hitec® molten salt is considered as the heat transfer fluid (HTF). The operating temperature of this HTF is 300-500°C. So to increase the thermal properties of this HTF nanomaterial has been added. The effective thermal conductivity and specific heat capacity of the nanofluid were calculated and the thermal effect of this nanofluid was observed from the simulation result.

Subject Area

Mechanical engineering|Energy

Recommended Citation

Afrin, Samia, "Numerical analysis of single tank thermocline thermal storage system for concentrated solar power plant" (2012). ETD Collection for University of Texas, El Paso. AAI1518209.