The design of the Latent Heat Thermal Storage System (LHTESS) was developed with thermal capacity of about 100 kWh as a part of small solar plant, based on the Organic Rankine Cycle (ORC). The phase change material (PCM) used is Solar salt with the melting/solidification temperature of about 220°C.
Thermo-physical properties of the PCM were measured, including its phase transition temperature, heat of fusion, specific heat and thermal conductivity. The design of the thermal storage was finalized by means of the 3-D CFD analysis.
The thermal storage system is made of six rectangular boxes with dimensions of 1 m (width) × 0.66 m (height) × 0.47 m (depth). The thermal energy is delivered to each of the thermal storage boxes with the use of thermal oil, heated by Fresnel mirrors. The heat is transferred into and from the PCM in the box using 40 bi-directional heat pipes with the external diameter of about 12 mm. The length of the heat pipe in the PCM box is 430 mm and it is placed in the cylindrical metallic protection cartridge, installed in the thermal storage vessel. The working fluid in the heat pipe is water. A set of metallic screens are installed in the box with the pitch of 8–10 mm to enhance the heat transfer from heat pipes to the PCM and vice-versa during the charging and discharging processes, which take about 4 hours.
The one unit of the described thermal storage system is undergoing the laboratory tests. Preliminary results demonstrate that the performance of the thermal storage is in a good agreement with numerical predictions. After completion of final design modifications, all units will be assembled at the plant’s demonstration site and tested with the ORC turbine.