Design of Particle-Based Thermal Energy Storage for a Concentrating Solar Power System

Zhiwen Ma, Ruichong Zhang, Fadi Sawaged

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review

12 Scopus Citations


Solid particles can operate at higher temperature than current molten salt or oil, and they can be a heat-transfer and storage medium in a concentrating solar power (CSP) system. By using inexpensive solid particles and containment material for thermal energy storage (TES), the particle-TES cost can be significantly lower than other TES methods such as a nitratesalt system. The particle-TES system can hold hot particles at more than 800°C with high thermal performance. The high particle temperatures increase the temperature difference between the hot and cold particles, and they improve the TES capacity. The particle-based CSP system is able to support high-efficiency power generation, such as the supercritical carbon-dioxide Brayton power cycle, to achieve >50% thermal-electric conversion efficiency. This paper describes a solid particle-TES system that integrates into a CSP plant. The hot particles discharge to a heat exchanger to drive the power cycle. The returning cold particles circulate through a particle receiver to absorb solar heat and charge the TES. This paper shows the design of a particle-TES system including containment silos, foundation, silo insulation, and particle materials. The analysis provides results for four TES capacities and two silo configurations. The design analysis indicates that the system can achieve high thermal efficiency, storage effectiveness (i.e., percentage usage of the hot particles), and exergetic efficiency. An insulation method for the hot silo was considered. The particle-TES system can achieve high performance and low cost, and it holds potential for next-generation CSP technology.


ConferenceASME 2017 11th International Conference on Energy Sustainability, ES 2017, collocated with the ASME 2017 Power Conference Joint with ICOPE 2017, the ASME 2017 15th International Conference on Fuel Cell Science, Engineering and Technology, and the ASME 2017 Nuclear Forum
Country/TerritoryUnited States

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
Copyright © 2017 ASME.

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/CP-5500-67871


  • Concentrating solar power
  • Concrete silo
  • Solid particle
  • Thermal energy storage


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