Design and off-design performance comparison of supercritical carbon dioxide Brayton cycles for particle-based high temperature concentrating solar power plants, R. Chen, M. Romero, J. González-Aguilar, F. Rovense, Z. Rao, S. Liao, Energy Conversion and Management, 232, 113870, 2021, Online version,


Concentrated solar power (CSP) plants using dense particle suspension as heat transfer fluid and particles as the storage medium are considered as a promising solution to provide the high temperature required for the supercritical carbon dioxide (S-CO2) Brayton cycle. During plant operation, variations in the heat transfer fluid temperature and ambient temperature would significantly affect system performance. Determining the suitable S-CO2 Brayton cycle configuration for this particle-based CSP plant requires accurate prediction and comprehensive comparison on the system performance both at design and off-design conditions. This study presents a common methodology to homogeneously assess the plant performance for six 10 MW S-CO2 Brayton cycles (i.e. simple regeneration, recompression, precompression, intercooling, partial cooling and split expansion) integrated with a hot particles thermal energy storage and a dry cooling system. This methodology includes both design and off-design detailed models based on the characteristic curves of all components. The optimal design for each thermodynamic cycle has been determined under the same boundary design constrains by a genetic algorithm. Then, their off-design performances have been quantitatively compared under varying particle inlet temperature and ambient temperature, in terms of cycle efficiency, net power output and specific work. Results show that the variation in ambient temperature contributes to a greater influence on the cycle off-design performance than typical variations of the heat transfer fluid temperature. Cycles with higher complexity have larger performance deterioration when the ambient temperature increases, though they could present higher peak efficiency and specific work at design-point. In particular, the cycle with maximum efficiency or specific work presents significant changes in different ranges of ambient temperature. This means that for the selection of the best configuration, the typical off-design operation conditions should be considered as well. For integrating with high-temperature CSP plants and dry cooling systems, the simple regeneration and the recompression cycles are the most suitable S-CO2 Brayton cycle configurations due to their fewer performance degradations at ambient temperatures above 30 °C, which is a frequent environmental condition in sunny areas of the world.