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Energies 2017, 10(9), 1361; doi:10.3390/en10091361

Development of an Integrated Thermal Energy Storage and Free-Piston Stirling Generator for a Concentrating Solar Power System

Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, Benjamin M. Statler College of Engineering and Mineral Resources, West Virginia University, Morgantown, WV 26506, USA
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Academic Editor: K.T. Chau
Received: 22 August 2017 / Revised: 3 September 2017 / Accepted: 4 September 2017 / Published: 8 September 2017
(This article belongs to the Section Energy Storage and Application)
View Full-Text   |   Download PDF [6707 KB, uploaded 8 September 2017]   |  

Abstract

Incorporating thermal energy storage (TES) into a concentrating solar power (CSP) system extends the power production hours, eliminating intermittency and reducing the Levelized Cost of the Energy (LCOE). The designed TES system was integrated with a 3 kW free-piston Stirling convertor. A NaF–NaCl eutectic salt was chosen as the phase change material (PCM) with a melting temperature of 680 °C. This eutectic salt has an energy density that is 5 to 10 times that of a typical molten salt PCM. In order to overcome the drawbacks of the material having a low thermal conductivity, heat pipes were embedded into the PCM to enhance the heat transfer rate within the system. Since the dish collector tracks the sun over the course of the day, two operational extremes were tested on the system; horizontal (zero solar elevation at sunrise/sunset) and vertical (solar noon). Although the system’s performance was below the expectations due to improperly sized wicks in the secondary heat pipes, the results indicated that the Stirling engine was able to produce 1.3 kWh of electricity by extracting latent heat energy from the PCM; thus, the concept of the design was validated. View Full-Text
Keywords: phase change material (PCM); thermal energy storage (TES); concentrating solar power (CSP); heat pipe phase change material (PCM); thermal energy storage (TES); concentrating solar power (CSP); heat pipe
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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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Qiu, S.; Solomon, L.; Rinker, G. Development of an Integrated Thermal Energy Storage and Free-Piston Stirling Generator for a Concentrating Solar Power System. Energies 2017, 10, 1361.

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