Research Papers

Thermomechanical Simulation of the Solar One Thermocline Storage Tank

[+] Author and Article Information
Scott M. Flueckiger

 School of Mechanical Engineering, Purdue University, 585 Purdue Mall, West Lafayette, IN 47907-2088

Zhen Yang

 Key Laboratory for Thermal Science and Power Engineering of Ministry of Education, Department of Thermal Engineering, Tsinghua University, Beijing 100084, China

Suresh V. Garimella1

 School of Mechanical Engineering, Purdue University, 585 Purdue Mall, West Lafayette, IN 47907-2088sureshg@purdue.edu


Corresponding author.

J. Sol. Energy Eng 134(4), 041014 (Oct 17, 2012) (6 pages) doi:10.1115/1.4007665 History: Received October 24, 2011; Revised September 06, 2012; Published October 17, 2012; Online October 17, 2012

The growing interest in large-scale solar power production has led to a renewed exploration of thermal storage technologies. In a thermocline storage system, heat transfer fluid (HTF) from the collection field is simultaneously stored at both excited and dead thermal states inside a single tank by exploiting buoyancy forces. A granulated porous medium included in the tank provides additional thermal mass for storage and reduces the volume of HTF required. While the thermocline tank offers a low-cost storage option, thermal ratcheting of the tank wall (generated by reorientation of the granular material from continuous thermal cycling) poses a significant design concern. A comprehensive simulation of the 170 MWht thermocline tank used in conjunction with the Solar One pilot plant is performed with a multidimensional two-temperature computational fluid dynamics model to investigate ratcheting potential. In operation from 1982 to 1986, this tank was subject to extensive instrumentation, including multiple strain gages along the tank wall to monitor hoop stress. Temperature profiles along the wall material are extracted from the simulation results to compute hoop stress via finite element models and compared with the original gage data. While the strain gages experienced large uncertainty, the maximum predicted hoop stress agrees to within 6.8% of the maximum stress recorded by the most reliable strain gages.

Copyright © 2012 by American Society of Mechanical Engineers
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Figure 1

Cutaway representation of Solar One thermocline tank

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Figure 2

Solar One thermocline tank charge profile. Measured values were known to exhibit up to 20% bias. A subsequent corrected and time-averaged value is enforced for input to the simulation.

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Figure 3

Temperature field in the thermocline tank (hour 30)

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Figure 4

Steel shell temperature profiles throughout simulated thermocline tank operation

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Figure 5

Solar One thermocline tank hoop stress (simulation and measured [12])




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