Predictive Performance Modeling Framework for a Novel Enclosed Particle Receiver Configuration and Application for Thermochemical Energy Storage

Janna Martinek, Timothy Wendelin, Zhiwen Ma

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus Citations


Concentrating solar power (CSP) plants can provide dispatchable power with a thermal energy storage capability for increased renewable-energy grid penetration. Particle-based CSP systems permit higher temperatures, and thus, potentially higher solar-to-electric efficiency than state-of-the-art molten-salt heat-transfer systems. This paper describes a detailed numerical analysis framework for estimating the performance of a novel, geometrically complex, enclosed particle receiver design. The receiver configuration uses arrays of small tubular absorbers to collect and subsequently transfer solar energy to a flowing particulate medium. The enclosed nature of the receiver design renders it amenable to either an inert heat-transfer medium, or a reactive heat-transfer medium that requires a controllable ambient environment. The numerical analysis framework described in this study is demonstrated for the case of thermal reduction of CaCr0.1Mn0.9O3-δ for thermochemical energy storage. The modeling strategy consists of Monte Carlo ray tracing for absorbed solar-energy distributions from a surround heliostat field, computational fluid dynamics modeling of small-scale local tubular arrays, surrogate response surfaces that approximately capture simulated tubular array performance, a quasi-two-dimensional reduced-order description of counter-flow reactive solids and purge gas, and a radiative exchange model applied to embedded-cavity structures at the size scale of the full receiver. In this work we apply the numerical analysis strategy to a single receiver configuration, but the framework can be generically applicable to alternative enclosed designs. We assess sensitivity of receiver performance to surface optical properties, heat-transfer coefficients, solids outlet temperature, and purge-gas feed rates, and discuss the significance of model assumptions and results for future receiver development.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)409-421
Number of pages13
JournalSolar Energy
StatePublished - 2018

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018 Elsevier Ltd

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/JA-5500-70565


  • Concentrating solar power
  • Heat transfer
  • Modeling
  • Particle
  • Thermochemical energy storage


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