International Journal of Hydrogen Energy, Vol.40, No.44, 15284-15300, 2015
Integration between direct steam generation in linear solar collectors and supercritical carbon dioxide Brayton power cycles
Direct Steam Generation in Parabolic Troughs or Linear Fresnel solar collectors is a technology under development since beginning of nineties (1990's) for replacing thermal oils and molten salts as heat transfer fluids in concentrated solar power plants, avoiding environmental impacts. In parallel to the direct steam generation technology development, supercritical Carbon Dioxide Brayton power cycles are maturing as an alternative to traditional Rankine cycles for increasing net plant efficiency and reducing balance of plant equipments dimensions and cots. For gaining synergies between these two innovative technologies, in this paper, Direct Steam Generation and Brayton power cycles are integrated in line-focusing solar power plants. Four configurations are studied: Configuration 1 consists on installing a condenser between solar field and power cycle; condensing the heat transfer fluid (steam water) with the balance of plant working fluid (carbon dioxide). The condenser would be a shell & tubes type. Along tubes carbon dioxide flows, and steam water condensates at shell-side. Main advantage of the condenser equipment is the high heat transfer coefficient at water condensing-side, reducing condenser dimension and weight. The main disadvantage of this configuration is the high operating pressure required in solar field for condensing steam into liquid water. This pressure should be between 150 bar and 175 bar for obtaining 400 degrees C at turbine inlet. In the Configuration 2, the superheated steam delivered by solar collectors transfers the heat energy in a primary heat exchanger to the balance of plant working fluid. In this configuration the steam not condensate into liquid water, and only reduces the temperature from 550 degrees C-560 degrees C to 420 degrees C. The steam pressure drops in solar field along receivers, headers and heat exchangers are compensated by means of steam compressors. This second solution is compatible with higher turbine inlet temperatures, up to 550 degrees C. The keystones of this second configuration are the steam conditions at compressor inlet, pressure similar to 175 bars and temperature similar to 420 degrees C, for minimizing steam compressor electrical consumption. The third design solution (Configuration 3) includes a solar field with direct steam generation in solar collectors with boiling recirculation mode, but the balance of plant is integrated by two Brayton power cycles in cascade. The first power cycle operating at 550 degrees C turbine inlet, and the second cycle at 410 degrees C turbine inlet. Main advantage is the integration between a validated direct steam generation technology (recirculation boiling mode) with the Brayton power cycles avoiding steam compressors, a technology not yet commercially available, and main drawback of this design is the increasing number of balance of plant equipments. The Configuration 4 is very similar to the Configuration 2, with the same direct steam generation solar field with superheated steam without condensing, and a single reheating stage solar field with molten salt as heat transfer fluid. The Configuration 1 provides similar efficiency and net power output, for similar solar field effective aperture area, as obtained with molten salt solar collectors with supercritical carbon dioxide power cycle (recompression with main compression intercooling cycle provides 36.6% net efficiency, for a maximum 400 degrees C turbine inlet). The second design solution (Configuration 2) net efficiency is not very much impacted for steam compressor electrical consumption recompression cycle net efficiency is 43.6% with steam solar field, versus 45.16% with molten salt solar field, in both cases with 550 degrees C turbine inlet. The Configuration 3 performance is -39.7% with two cascade Brayton power cycles with recompression and main compression intercooling. Finally, the Configuration 4 optimum plant performance is obtained for the recompression cycle with a net efficiency -45.77%, and is constrained by the molten salt drawbacks (material corrosion, material cost, environmental impact, etc). Copyright (C) 2015, Hydrogen Energy Publications, LLC. Published by Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.