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Solar cavity receiver design for a dish-Stirling system

Time: Tue 2020-02-18 10.00

Location: Kollegiesalen, Brinellvägen 8, Stockholm (English)

Subject area: Energy Technology

Doctoral student: Jorge Garrido Gálvez , Kraft- och värmeteknologi, Solar group

Opponent: Professor Uwe Gampe, Dresden University of Technology

Supervisor: Professor Björn Laumert, Kraft- och värmeteknologi


The growing concern for the climate change has led to an increasing research effort in renewable energy technologies in order to achieve a more sustainable electricity production. Concentrating Solar Power (CSP) is identified as a promising technology to deal with part of the future electricity production. In CSP technologies, a solar receiver converts the concentrated sunlight into high temperature heat. The solar receiver is one of the most critical CSP components as it must provide high thermal power collection efficiencies while operating under very high temperatures and heat fluxes. Thereby, improving the solar receiver efficiency and endurance would benefit the technical and economic viability of CSP.

This PhD thesis aims at improving the efficiency and endurance of a typical solar cavity receiver for the dish-Stirling CSP technology. This research work includes new experimental and numerical analyses contributing to the state of the art of solar receiver design. The efficiency is improved through the analysis of the receiver cavity shape, geometry, operating conditions, and radiative properties, whereas the durability improvement is achieved through the study of advantageous receiver support structures using Finite Element Analysis (FEA). Moreover, a solar laboratory was developed and characterized to conduct representative experiments of the cavity receiver. Multiple parametric experiments were conducted in order to perform a comprehensive validation of the simulations.

During the development of the solar laboratory, it was observed that the commonly utilized flux mapping system (CMOS camera-Lambertian target) should not be used for the characterization of Fresnel lens-based solar simulators. Due to this, the lab characterization was approached combining measurements from a thermopile sensor (radiometer) and a self-designed flat plate calorimeter. Furthermore, a detailed Monte Carlo uncertainty analysis allowed an accurate evaluation of the uncertainty propagation. All the experiments were designed and conducted to increase the accuracy of the final results.

Regarding the cavity receiver design for a dish-Stirling system, the aperture diameter is the most important parameter towards improving the cavity receiver efficiency. The reverse-conical cavity shape provided higher efficiencies (up to 2%) than the cylindrical shape. Additionally, a potential efficiency increase of 0.6% could be achieved by using a cavity material/coating with optimal radiative properties(high emissivity/absorptivity ratio). Finally, the studies suggested that convection has a negligible influence on determining the optimum aperture diameter, whereas the Direct Normal Irradiance (DNI) has little influence. The simulations yielded a cavity receiver with a maximum total receiver efficiency of 91.5%.

Experimental measurements of the receiver displacements under thermal expansion allowed finding realistic mechanical boundary conditions of the receiver. Further structural simulations suggested that thermomechanical stresses can be reduced by setting the receiver supports to certain positions, which can be achieved with the application of external forces and torques. Moreover, the peak stresses can be moved to colder regions to improve the lifetime of the receiver. By shifting the support positions, the receiver simulations calculating creep lifetime under no relaxation showed a potential lifetime improvement of 57%.