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Project Name: Gen3 Particle Pilot Plant (G3P3): Integrated High-Temperature Particle System for CSP
Funding Opportunity: Generation 3 Concentrating Solar Power Systems
SETO Subprogram: Concentrating Solar Power
Location: Albuquerque, NM
SETO Award Amount: $9,173,858
Awardee Cost Share: $5,463,867
Principal Investigator: Clifford Ho

In response to Topic 1 of this funding program, this project team will design a multi-megawatt thermal falling-particle receiver concentrating solar-thermal power (CSP) system. The team aims to create an integrated system design that can provide six hours of energy storage, heat the turbine working fluid—supercritical carbon dioxide—to at least 700° Celsius, and operate for thousands of hours. If selected to advance to Phase 3, the team will validate the ability to meet the Solar Energy Technologies Office CSP cost and performance goals through construction of a pilot-scale test facility.  


The team will use solid particles to absorb and store heat from concentrated sunlight for dispatchable electricity production. The particles will be low-cost, noncorrosive, and durable, and will not freeze or decompose at temperatures above 1,000°C. This particle-based system will enable lower-cost components, efficiency improvements, and greater reliability relative to conventional CSP systems. The team will also design more reliable, manufacturable particle heat exchangers and particle thermal-energy-storage vessels, and investigate the design and scalability of other components, such as the storage tanks and particle lift, which returns the particles to the solar receiver.


This system will be designed so that the particles flow from the solar receiver to a storage tank, into the heat exchanger, and into the particle lift, enabling the researchers to evaluate the effects on all the major components. This project will investigate novel features and processes to increase the thermal efficiency of each component while proving reliable operation of all components in a single, integrated system.