High temperature thermocline TES – effect of system pre-charging on thermal stratification

Zavattoni, Simone and Barbato, Maurizio and Zanganeh, Giw and Pedretti, Andrea (2016) High temperature thermocline TES – effect of system pre-charging on thermal stratification. AIP Conference Proceedings, 1734 (050043).

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The purpose of this study is to evaluate, by means of a computational fluid dynamics approach, the effect of performing an initial charging, or pre-charging, on thermal stratification of an industrial-scale thermocline TES unit, based on a packed bed of river pebbles. The 1 GWhth TES unit under investigation is exploited to fulfill the energy requirement of a reference 80 MWe concentrating solar power plant which uses air as heat transfer fluid. Three different scenarios, characterized by 4 h, 6 h and 8 h of pre-charging, were compared with the reference case of TES system operating without pre-charging. For each of these four scenarios, a total of 30 consecutive charge/discharge cycles, of 12 h each, were simulated and the effect of TES pre-charging on thermal stratification was qualitatively evaluated, by means of a stratification efficiency, based on the second-law of thermodynamics. On the basis of the simulations results obtained, the effect of pre-charging, more pronounced during the first cycles, is not only relevant in reducing the time required by the TES to achieve a stable thermal stratification into the packed bed but also to improve the performance at startup when the system is charged for the first time.

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