Project Name: Narrow-Channel, Fluidized Beds for Effective Particle Thermal Energy Transport and Storage
Funding Opportunity: Solar Energy Technologies Office Fiscal Year 2018 Funding Program (SETO FY2018)
SETO Team: Concentrating Solar Power
Location: Golden, CO
SETO Award Amount: $1,852,000
Awardee Cost Share: $463,000
Planned Timeline: 2019-2021

-- Award and cost share amounts are subject to change pending negotiations --

Using particles to replace the heat-transfer fluid in a concentrating solar-thermal power (CSP) system may be the simplest way to increase the operating temperature and, therefore, the power cycle efficiency of a CSP plant. This project is working to develop and test a narrow-channel, counter-flow, fluidized bed receiver and heat exchanger design. These will be used to analyze flow conditions and improve heat transfer rates in the receiver and heat exchanger. If successful, this technology will significantly improve heat transfer in and out of particle-based heat transfer media, a notable challenge for current designs.


This project team consists of experts from Colorado School of Mines, Sandia National Laboratories, and Carbo Ceramics who will develop two complementary heat exchangers. The narrow-channel technology involves forcing particles through small channels where they absorb heat more effectively than through large channels. The counter-flow fluidized bed technology involves passing air through the channels in the opposite direction to the particles’ direction of travel, which ensures the particles mix together rapidly and promotes more effective heat exchange. The team’s two heat exchangers involve using this technology to absorb heat from the solar receiver and to transfer this heat to supercritical carbon dioxide for use in power generation.


The team aims to demonstrate that combining the two technologies can transfer heat at efficiencies higher than 90% with output heat at temperatures above 700o Celsius, and that its design is scalable and cost-effective. If successful, it will demonstrate more efficient heat exchangers that are commercially viable.