Thermal design guidelines of solar power towers Articles uri icon

publication date

  • February 2014

start page

  • 428

end page

  • 438


  • 1


  • 63

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 1359-4311

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1873-5606


  • One of the main problems of solar power tower plants with molten salt as heat transfer fluid is the reliability of central receivers. The receiver must withstand high working temperatures, molten salt corrosion and important solar flux transients that lead to thermal stresses and fatigue. Despite these difficulties, it is necessary an estimation of the receiver thermal efficiency in order to have an accurate estimation of the investment cost of the solar plant and to assure the lifetime estimation of the receiver. A thermal, mechanical and hydrodynamic analysis of these receivers has been developing in this work, assuming constant heat flux in each axial discretized section of the tube wall but considering circumferential temperature variations in the perimeter of the tubes caused by the difference between the heat flux received by the front part of the tubes and by the rear part. The thermal analysis shows that the radiation losses are higher than in literature, and consequently the thermal efficiency is lower too. This is due to the fact that the effective tube wall temperature for radiation is higher than the mean tube wall temperature, especially if the rear temperature of the tubes is considered. Besides, it has been found that the highest temperatures and thermal stresses are sited on the eastern and western panels of the receivers. Film temperature is the most limiting parameter for the receiver design due to it is responsible for salt decomposition and tube corrosion. Therefore, once the tube material is chosen, the film temperature cannot exceed a critical value over which the corrosion ratio raises rapidly. Small tube diameters and low number of panels results in low film temperatures, although this kind of design increases the pressure drop. Therefore, a compromise between film temperature and pressure drop can lead to a receiver design that ensures its lifetime, and at the same time, optimizes the investment and operational cost of the receiver.


  • Renewable Energies


  • solar power tower; molten-salt central-receiver; film temperature; radiation effective temperature; tube corrosion; thermal stress; receiver; temperature; simulation; tube