A 200 feet tall tower developed by Sandia’s National Solar Thermal Test Facility in New Mexico, is the latest technology in concentrating solar power (CSP) systems.
Sandia’s falling particle receiver drops minute sand-like ceramic particles through a concentrated beam of sunlight, where the heated particles are captured and stored in an insulated tank. Unlike standard molten salt systems, this technology can store heat at high temperatures without breaking down. The operating temperature of their falling particle receiver can also exceed 1000°C , unlike molten salt systems limited to up to 600 °C. Thus, more thermal energy can be stored at cheaper storage costs.
Testing of the receiver is still ongoing and is expected to finish at the end of 2015, following which development of a prototype will begin. The prototype will be developed with the goal of creating a cost-competitive falling particle receiver that can receive thermal efficiency of over 90% and achieve particle temperatures no less than 700 °C.
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