Proposal of a new design of source heat exchanger for the technical feasibility of solar thermal plants coupled to supercritical power cycles, M. J. Montes, J. I. Linares, R. Barbero, A. Rovira, Solar Energy, 211, 1027-1041, 2020, Online version,


Solar thermal power plants coupled to supercritical CO2 cycles seems to be a way to increase the global solar-to-electric efficiency. For that, the concentrating solar technology that is best integrated is the molten salt central receiver with a thermal energy storage associated. This work is focused on one of the main challenges of this scheme: the source heat exchanger transferring the thermal energy from the molten salt in the solar field to the CO2 in the power cycle. A new design, based on the printed circuit heat exchanger technology is proposed, that withstands the pressure difference and avoids the molten salt plugging when circulating through microchannels. The thermo-mechanic model of this heat exchanger is also calculated. This work also addresses a thermo-economic optimization of the printed circuit heat exchanger proposed. For that, it is considered the global performance of the solar thermal plant for three layouts: recompression, intercooling and partial-cooling cycles. This optimization yields to a great reduction in the investment cost of these source heat exchangers, achieving the lowest cost in the partial-cooling configuration, followed by the intercooling and finally, the recompression. This trend is also observed in the global performance of the solar plant, so the partial-cooling layout is the one with the lowest levelized cost of electricity; this value is similar to that of the intercooling layout, and both are well below from the cost in the recompression layout, which results the most expensive configuration.