Enhanced Solar Receiver Design: Using Modern Materials and Manufacturing Methods
Kepinski, Paul John
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Solar receivers are a core component in receiver technology used for solar thermal power plants that use mirror reflectors to concentrate solar radiation onto a single point. This point is where the solar receiver is located. The energy is transferred into a medium that can either be stored for overnight power needs or can be used immediately to generate steam to power an electrical grid. The purpose of this research is to see if efficiency of a solar receiver can be increased substantially using newer methods of 3D metal manufacturing and material sciences. The recommended solution is a cavity shaped solar receiver using material created by a combination of 3D laser sintering and post process curing to produce a more thermally efficient and opaque solar receiver. 3D manufacturing technology is utilized for the purpose of producing a heat exchanger with complex internal geometries that would otherwise be impossible to manufacture conventionally. Using ceramic cavity-based receivers allow for the system to be scaled down to a laboratory environment to allow for lab testing prior to full scale testing. The efficiency increases in this design are at a worst-case scenario as this is the least efficient type of design; thus, it is vastly popular for solar receiver research due to the efficiency gains easily translating to other more efficient solar receiver types. The final design was analyzed and showed up to a 35% theoretical efficiency increase. Various materials were analyzed, and silicon carbide was shown to be the best material choice for the analysis scenario. The determination was made by using a decision matrix, taking into account various material properties and transient analysis results. It was found that ytterbium doping enhanced materials’ steady state heat flux while slightly decreasing transient heat flux. Further research would include obtaining historical data for solar radiation and applying that as input to the transient analysis to see what overall efficiency would be using real life historical data.