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CFD Simulation and Heat Loss Analysis of the Solar Two Power Tower Receiver

[+] Author Affiliations
Joshua M. Christian, Clifford K. Ho

Sandia National Laboratories, Albuquerque, NM

Paper No. ES2012-91030, pp. 227-235; 9 pages
  • ASME 2012 6th International Conference on Energy Sustainability collocated with the ASME 2012 10th International Conference on Fuel Cell Science, Engineering and Technology
  • ASME 2012 6th International Conference on Energy Sustainability, Parts A and B
  • San Diego, California, USA, July 23–26, 2012
  • Conference Sponsors: Advanced Energy Systems Division, Solar Energy Division
  • ISBN: 978-0-7918-4481-6
  • Copyright © 2012 by ASME


Solar Two was a demonstration of the viability of molten salt power towers. The power tower was designed to produce enough thermal power to run a 10-MWe conventional Rankine cycle turbine. A critical component of this process was the solar tower receiver. The receiver was designed for an applied average heat flux of 430 kW/m2 with an outlet temperature of 565°C (838.15 K). The mass flow rate could be varied in the system to control the outlet temperature of the heat transfer fluid, which was high temperature molten salt. The heat loss in the actual system was calculated by using the power-on method which compares how much power is absorbed by the molten salt when using half of the heliostat field and then the full heliostat field. However, the total heat loss in the system was lumped into a single value comprised of radiation, convection, and conduction heat transfer losses. In this study, ANSYS FLUENT was used to evaluate and characterize the radiative and convective heat losses from this receiver system assuming two boundary conditions: (1) a uniform heat flux on the receiver and (2) a distributed heat flux generated from the code DELSOL. The results show that the distributed-flux models resulted in radiative heat losses that were ∼14% higher than the uniform-flux models, and convective losses that were ∼5–10% higher due to the resulting non-uniform temperature distributions. Comparing the simulations to known convective heat loss correlations demonstrated that surface roughness should be accounted for in the simulations. This study provides a model which can be used for further receiver design and demonstrates whether current convective correlations are appropriate for analytical evaluation of external solar tower receivers.

Copyright © 2012 by ASME



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