Design and Optimization of a Sodium-Molten Salt Heat Exchanger for Concentrating Solar Power applications
Abstract: Concentrating Solar Power (CSP) is one of the most promising renewable energybased electricity generation technologies to deal with the increasing demand of power consumption and environmental sustainability. With the aim of achieving the 2020 SunShot cost target for CSP of 60 USD/MWh, the United States Department of Energy presented, in May 2018, the Gen3 CSP initiative. In particular, the CSP Gen3 Liquid-Phase Pathway proposes to design a CSP system adopting liquid sodium as Heat Transfer Fluid (HTF) in the receiver, advanced high-temperature molten chloride salt as storage fluid and supercritical CO2 (sCO2) Brayton cycle as power cycle. Within this framework, the aim of this master thesis was to design the sodium-chloride salt Heat Exchanger (HX) by developing both a heat exchanger model and a sodiumsalt-sCO2 system model. To pursue these purposes, a completely new Modelica-based HX model was developed and added to the SolarTherm library. Furthermore, as an extension of earlier models, the sodium-salt-sCO2 CSP system (NaSaltsCO2System) was implemented in SolarTherm, by incorporating the HX model and linking it with other new and existing component models. As for the HX, a general model was developed for shell and tube heat exchangers, based on the TEMA guidelines, with the possibility of being customized in terms of media adopted, constraints, boundary conditions, and correlations. The model performs an optimization in order to select the internal geometry configuration that optimizes a user-defined objective-function. By employing the implemented HX model in the NaSaltsCO2System, the sodium-salt heat exchanger was designed aiming at minimizing the Levelized Cost of Electricity (LCOE), providing a complete geometry description, and an estimation of the performances and costs. The resulting NaSaltsCO2System model was found to be robust and able to perform annual simulations that allowed to estimate the energy performances of the CSP plant, as well as the LCOE. Considering the sodium-salt-sCO2 CSP system characterized by a receiver capacity of 543 MWth, 12 hours of Thermal Energy Storage (TES), and a 100 MWe power block, the LCOE resulted equal to 72.66 USD/MWh. The sodium-salt HX design that minimizes the LCOE resulted in a single-shell/single tube pass configuration, with vertical alignment, characterized by an overall height of 15 m, and a shell diameter of 1.8 m. It represents the 3.2% of the total capital cost of the plant. An interesting system-level optimization was then carried out on the combined receiver-heat exchanger block. It regarded the variation of the Log Mean Temperature Difference (LMTD) of the HX and highlighted the possibility to drop the LCOE down to 68.54 USD/MWh. The techno-economic investigations and the sensitivity analysis showed the flexibility and robustness of the HX model, as well as the importance of the NaSaltsCO2System. The latter lays the groundwork to explore potential improvements of this new generation of CSP systems, which can play a fundamental role in the future global energy mix.
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