Single-tank TES system – Transient evaluation of thermal stratification according to the second-law of thermodynamics

Zavattoni, Simone and Barbato, Maurizio and Pedretti, Andrea and Zanganeh, Giw (2015) Single-tank TES system – Transient evaluation of thermal stratification according to the second-law of thermodynamics. Energy Procedia, 69. pp. 1068-1077. ISSN 18766102

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Single-tank thermal energy storage (TES) systems represent a valuable alternative, to the most common two-tank systems with molten slat, to effectively store thermal energy in concentrating solar power (CSP) applications. From an economic standpoint, the gap between the two TES solutions is relevant. A remarkable cost reduction can be achieved if a single-tank TES system, with a low-cost filler material, is exploited. In this kind of TES system, the buoyancy driven effects of the heat transfer fluid are exploited to establish and maintain a thermocline zone which separates the hot region on top and the cold region at the bottom of the tank. The thinner the thermocline thickness, the higher the thermodynamic quality of the stored energy. As soon as the TES is charged for the first time, i.e. startup of the system, the extent of thermal stratification may vary sharply during the first cycles before achieving a stable condition. For this reason, this study aims at evaluating, by means of accurate time-dependent 3D CFD simulations, the transient evolution of thermal stratification of a single-tank TES system exploited to fulfill the round-the-clock energy requirement of a reference 80 MWe CSP plant which uses air as heat transfer fluid. A total of 30 consecutive cycles, composed by charge/discharge phases, were simulated. Since the thermal energy stored is exploited to produce electrical energy, the performances of the TES system, operating under cyclic conditions, were qualitatively characterized by means of a stratification efficiency index based upon the second-law of thermodynamics.

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