An experimental platform was designed and built for testing the thermal performance of a water/steam cavity receiver. The experimental platform was utilized to investigate the start-up performance and operation characteristics of the receiver. The electrical heating mode was chosen to simulate the non-uniform distribution of heat flux on the surface of absorber tubes inside the cavity. During start-up the temperature rise rate and the mass flow rate are considered as control variables. A couple of start-up curves under different working pressures were finally obtained. The results showed that the receiver performed at relatively low thermal efficiencies. The main reason for the low thermal efficiency was attributed to the low steam mass flow rate, which causes a high proportional heat loss. In order to study the relationship between thermal efficiency and mass flow rate, a computational model for evaluating the thermal performance of a cavity receiver was built and verified. This model couples three aspects of heat transfer: the radiative heat transfer inside the receiver, the flow boiling heat transfer inside the absorber tubes and the convection heat transfer around the receiver. The water/steam cavity receiver of the experimental platform was studied numerically. The curve of thermal efficiency versus
mass flow rate was obtained to show that the thermal efficiency increases with increasing mass flow rate within a certain range, and the increase is more remarkable at low mass flow rates. The purpose of the present study was to determine an appropriate mass flow rate for the receiver of the experimental platform to ensure its efficient operation.