Falling Particle Receiver for Concentrated Solar Energy

Organization: Sandia National Laboratories
Co-Developer(s): Georgia Institute of Technology, Bucknell University, King Saud University, German Aerospace Center
Year: 2016

The Falling Particle Receiver for Concentrated Solar Energy has significant cost and performance advantages over conventional concentrating solar power technologies and intermittent renewables such as wind and photovoltaics. The technology enables clean, renewable energy with cheap, efficient thermal storage that is up to two orders of magnitude less expensive than batteries, pumped-hydro, compressed-air or flywheel storage. The falling particle receiver implements a simple design that uses inexpensive, commercially available particles (currently used in the oil and gas industry for hydraulic fracturing) and highly concentrated sunlight to efficiently heat the particles to temperatures greater than 700 °C. The energy from the hot particles can be stored and dispatched as needed to heat a power cycle to generate electricity when demand is greatest, even when the sun is not shining. The particle receiver yields higher efficiencies and capacity factors and lower costs than conventional renewable energy technologies when storage is considered. Particle receivers open up new possibilities for high-temperature applications including thermochemical storage, solar fuels, industrial process heat and water treatment to address global energy and water needs.