U.S. Department of Energy

Novel Thermal Energy Storage Systems for Concentrating Solar Power

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Latent heat thermal energy storage system with embedded heat pipes to reduce thermal resistance.

The University of Connecticut, under the Thermal Storage FOA, is developing innovative heat transfer devices and methodologies for novel thermal energy storage (TES) systems for CSP involving phase change materials (PCMs).

Approach

Specific objectives include embedding thermosyphons and/or heat pipes (TS/HPs) within appropriate PCMs to significantly reduce thermal resistances within the TES system of a large-scale CSP plant and, in turn, improve performance of the plant. The expected outcome of the research is generation of the necessary fundamental knowledge to enable full-scale design of a system that reduces the LCOE and increases round-trip efficiency of CSP. Manufacture of the proposed heat transfer devices presents a novel opportunity for economic development.

Innovation

This work utilizes embedded thermosyphons or heat pipes in the PCM to reduce the thermal resistance between the location where phase change occurs and the working fluid of the power cycle. Either thermosyphons or heat pipes can:

  • Provide an effective thermal conductivity that is up to 90 times that of copper
  • Transfer large amounts of energy nearly isothermally
  • Be custom-tailored for performance by carefully selecting the TS/HP working fluid and its operating pressure, as well as the wall material
  • Be fabricated in a wide variety of shapes.

The intended outcome of this research is the development of a PCM storage system with the capability of achieving an energy cost of $15/kWth. This work aims to prove or disprove the ability of heat pipes to enhance heat transfer in PCM TES systems.

Publications, Patents, and Awards

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Quarterly Progress Reports

CSP Program Overview

Learn about other DOE competitive awards for concentrating solar power research that are in progress.