A solar Brayton cycle with metal phase change thermal storage
Roof, Barrett C.
Gannon, Anthony J.
Hobson, Garth V.
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The Department of the Navy (DON) has prioritized the establishment of a robust renewable energy platform for its installations. Solar energy has emerged in a way that has provided viable alternatives. The use of solar energy, however, poses a problem of maintaining continuity of power during hours when sunlight is not available. The development of Thermal Energy Storage (TES), while addressing this problem, introduces complexities that can reduce overall plant efficiency. This research aims to simplify the plant design in a way that minimizes such complexities and maximizes efficiency. The research in this thesis explores a new design that integrates static molten metal baths with the solar collector. The proposed initial design is centered on a simple open air Brayton cycle. Aluminum was selected as the phase change metal, providing latent heat to the air in the collector during hours of non-daylight through freezing. The research focuses on the thermodynamic analysis of the system, initial collector design requirements, and minimum volumetric requirements of the aluminum phase change metal. An analytical and numerical flow optimization study of the system was performed for comparison to design calculations.
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