Concentrating solar-thermal power (CSP) systems, specifically central tower systems such as the Crescent Dunes system currently nearing completion in southwest USA, make use of a receiver comprised of banks of tubes through which a heat transfer fluid is circulated. The receiver is where the concentrated radiation is converted to thermal energy; that energy can then be stored and later used to produce electricity.
In this project, novel configurations of tube banks for central-tower receivers will be investigated, including bladed concepts and incorporating the use of active airflow techniques. The receiver concepts will be tested in state-of-the-art experimental facilities including wind- and water-tunnels and using particle-image velocimetry techniques at the University of Adelaide, and on-sun at CSIRO in Newcastle. An integrated analysis process incorporating optical ray tracing and computational fluid dynamics will be used alongside experimental work to optimise the new design.
Preliminary analysis suggests that successful implementation of the proposed novel receiver concept could result in the levelised cost of electricity from CSP systems reducing by up to 0.01–0.02 AUD/kWh. Together with needed improvements to other parts of the system, it is hoped that CSP can thereby achieve a target of 0.1 AUD/kWh for solar-thermal electricity, including storage, by the year 2020.