Preliminary Component Design and Cost Estimation of a Novel Electric-Thermal Energy Storage System Using Solid Particles: Article No. SOL-21-1268

Zhiwen Ma, Xingchao Wang, Patrick Davenport, Jeffrey Gifford, Janna Martinek

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus Citations


Energy storage will become indispensable to complement the uncertainty of intermittent renewable resources and to firm the electricity supply as renewable power generation becomes the mainstream new-built energy source and fossil fuel power plants are phased out to meet carbon-neutral utility targets. Current energy storage methods based on pumped storage hydropower or batteries have many limitations. Thermal energy storage (TES) has unique advantages in scale and siting flexibility to provide grid-scale storage capacity. A particle-based TES system is projected to have promising cost and performance characteristics to meet the future growing energy storage needs. This paper introduces the system and components required for particle TES to become technically and economically competitive. The system integrates electric particle heaters, particle TES within insulated concrete silos, and an efficient air-Brayton combined-cycle power system to provide power for storage durations up to several days via low-cost, high-performance storage cycles. Design specifications and cost estimation of major components in a commercial-scale system are presented in this paper. A techno-economic analysis based on preliminary component designs and performance indicates that particle TES integrated with an air-Brayton combined-cycle power system has a path to achieve the targeted levelized cost of storage of 5 ¢/kWh-cycle at a round-trip efficiency of 50% when taking low-cost energy-specific components and leveraging basic assets from existing thermal power plants. The cost model provides insights for further development and economic potentials for long-duration energy storage.
Original languageAmerican English
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Solar Energy Engineering, Transactions of the ASME
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2022

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/JA-5700-81891


  • grid resilience
  • long-duration energy storage
  • renewable energy
  • solid particles
  • thermal energy storage


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