Abstract

The new generation of Concentrated Solar Power (CSP) plants requires high temperature and high energy density storage system with good cyclic stability. The potential solution satisfying such requirements is the thermochemical energy storage (TCES) using gas-solid redox reaction. Design of efficient storage reactor is very critical for applications of such storage systems. Packed bed reactors have a simpler design with no moving components and are more cost-effective compared to other available moving bed design configurations while having high-pressure drop is their main drawback. Any improvement in the pressure drop makes the design more suitable for commercial applications, especially at high temperature operating conditions. Cobalt oxide redox reaction has been considered for this study because of its unique features, especially high enthalpy of reaction (energy density) and high reaction temperature. A rectangular cross-section packed bed reactor with a large aspect ratio is selected as a reference conventional packed bed reactor. The novel split-flow packed bed reactor design configuration is proposed in which a portion of heat transfer fluid is passed through adjacent side channels. The split flow ratio of 1/3 has been considered for the case study. The transient two-dimensional numerical model is developed for solving mass, momentum, and energy equations for both gas and solid phases using suitable reaction kinetics for the reversible reduction and re-oxidation process. Complete storage cycle, including both the charging and discharging mode, has been simulated using finite element method. The split flow design performance is compared with the reference case considering the same size of the reaction bed. It is shown that the conversion time is increased while the pressure drop reduced below half of the pressure loss of the conventional design. Reduced mass flow rate passing through the bed results in considerable improvement in required pressure work with a penalty of storage performance. Further study is needed to optimize the split flow ratio and the surface heat transfer characteristics of the bed. The proposed design configuration could be a breakthrough in packed bed reactors, especially for high-temperature storage applications.

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