Modeling Tool Development and Validation for Solar Industry Process Heat Using Particle Thermal Energy Storage: Paper No. ES2023-106984

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaper


U.S. industry sectors used 26.2 quadrillion Btu and accounted for 33% of total energy consumption in 2021 according to the Energy Information Agency. Industrial process heat accounts for 70% of industrial energy use with application temperatures ranging from 60 degrees -1100 degrees C. Industry processes, heavily relying on fossil fuels of cheap coal or natural gas, differ widely in operating conditions and load requirements which makes them difficult to standardize and imposes great challenges in decarbonization. Industry processes require reliable energy supply and vary widely in temperature ranges. Storing energy from renewable sources is necessary to improve reliability and to mitigate renewable intermittency when replacing carbon fuel-based heat supplies to achieve energy savings and reduce emissions. To this end, we have developed a particle-based thermal energy storage (TES) technology using low-cost and highly stable silica sand as a storage medium. The economic and performance-based analysis is key for renewable energy sources to reliably supply industry process heat and ultimately displace fossil fuels for decarbonization. The diversified industrial processes need case-by-case analysis and design. Therefore, an adaptive modeling tool is key for renewable power with energy storage to meet industry demands. Thus, a modeling tool to simulate a solar industry process heat system using the particle TES has been developed using the object-oriented equation-based language Modelica and the commercial platform of Modelon Impact. The Modelica-based software tool provides a general simulation environment for the design of reliable solar energy sources integrated with TES for various industrial process applications at different temperatures for economic competence with fossil fuels such as coal and natural gases. It uses both customized and standard component modeling modules in Modelon libraries for the flexibility to be adapted to a specific energy demand application. The particle TES system establishes a uniform energy supply platform with an efficient heat exchanger and particle thermal energy reservoir integrated with renewable powers. The particle TES system can provide a wide temperature range and can have a large storage temperature difference that increases storage energy density; therefore, it can be an adaptable energy storage system integrated with renewable power to supply 24/7 heat for industry decarbonization.
Original languageAmerican English
Number of pages7
StatePublished - 2023

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/CP-5700-88280


  • concentrated solar thermal
  • industrial process heat
  • particle thermal energy storage
  • thermal energy storage


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