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Computational Analysis of a Pipe Flow Distributor for a Thermocline Based Thermal Energy Storage System

[+] Author Affiliations
Samia Afrin, Eduardo Cordero, Sebastian De La Rosa, Vinod Kumar

University of Texas at El Paso, El Paso, TX

Desikan Bharathan, Greg C. Glatzmaier, Zhiwen Ma

National Renewable Energy Laboratory, Golden, CO

Paper No. ES2012-91069, pp. 299-305; 7 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


The overall efficiency of a Concentrating Solar Power (CSP) plant depends on the effectiveness of Thermal Energy Storage (TES) system [1]. A single tank TES system consists of a thermocline region which produces the temperature gradient between hot and cold storage fluid by density difference [2]. Preservation of this thermocline region in the tank during charging and discharging cycles depends on the uniformity of the velocity profile at any horizontal plane. Our objective is to maximize the uniformity of the velocity distribution using a pipe-network distributor by varying the number of holes, distance between the holes, position of the holes and number of distributor pipes. For simplicity, we consider that the diameter of the inlet, main pipe, the distributor pipes and the height and the width of the tank are constant. We use Hitec® molten salt as the storage medium and the commercial software Gambit 2.4.6 and Fluent 6.3 for the computational analysis. We analyze the standard deviation in the velocity field and compare the deviations at different positions of the tank height for different configurations. Since, the distance of the holes from the inlet and their respective arrangements affects the flow distribution throughout the tank; we investigate the impacts of rearranging the holes position on flow distribution. Impact of the number of holes and distributor pipes are also analyzed. We analyze our findings to determine a configuration for the best case scenario.

Copyright © 2012 by ASME



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