Thermo-economic optimization of a novel confined thermal energy storage system based on granular material Articles uri icon

publication date

  • April 2023

start page

  • 1

end page

  • 13


  • 224(120123)

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 1359-4311

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1873-5606


  • Concentrated solar power is a suitable technology for production of green electricity. However, to attain a uniform electricity production, concentrated solar power should be coupled with large Thermal Energy Storage (TES) systems. Among the different technologies of TES systems, storage of sensible heat in granular material is widely used due to its simple operation. These TES systems store energy as an increase of temperature of a large mass of small solid particles, through which a fluid circulates exchanging heat. TES systems are typically operated in a fixed bed regime, maximizing their exergy output, thus limiting the maximum allowable velocity of the fluid flow. In this work, a novel confined bed is proposed to mechanically prevent the motion of the solid particles conforming the TES system even for high fluid velocities, to guarantee that the exhaust temperature of the fluid is maximum during a discharge process. In this novel confined bed, a thermocline evolves from bottom to top of the system, separating the low and high temperature of the bed during the discharge process. An analytical model was applied to describe the evolution of the thermocline and the effect of the different operating parameters on the thermocline thickness.

    The effect of the thermocline thickness was combined with a thermo-economic analysis of a confined bed TES system proposed for a case of study. The new confined bed here proposed was optimized considering thermodynamics aspects, namely the fluid exergy increment in the bed, and economic factors, specifically the total investment cost of the TES system. The optimization resulted in low values of the fluid velocity, between 0.2 and 0.4 m/s, but still higher than the minimum fluidization velocity of sand particles of 750 μm, justifying the requirement of a confined bed, and low bed aspect ratios, between 0.25 and 0.9, to prevent excessively high fluid pressure drops. However, the bed aspect ratio increases significantly for higher granular material particle sizes, up to a ratio of bed height to diameter of 3 for a particle size of 10 mm and a TES demand time of 6 h.


  • Renewable Energies


  • exergy; granular material; optimization; thermocline; tes; thermal energy storage