Vacuum Process Engineering Inc. has announced a supply partnership with the US Department of Energy (DOE) and Sandia National Laboratories for designing and fabricating heat exchangers for a next generation concentrating solar-thermal (CSP) plant.

Source: VPE

The DOE recently announced a Phase III, $25m award to Sandia to build, test and demonstrate a CSP plant at the National Solar Thermal Test Facility (NSTTF) in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Sacramento, California-based VPE designed and fabricated the subscale prototype heat exchanger, as well as designing the primary heat exchangers for both a 1 MWth and 200 MWth CSP plant.

Before the award decision, VPE’s subscale (20 kWth) prototype heat exchanger was tested and demonstrated improved performance, contributing to the DOE’s decision for Phase III programme approval.

This subscale (20 kWth) prototype heat exchanger was tested with supercritical carbon dioxide (sCO2) up to 500°C at 17 MPa, which yielded overall heat transfer coefficients of more than 300 W-m-2-K and pressure drop less than 7 kPa (0.04%), according to VPE. This testing was vital in DOE approving Phase III of the programme.

The overall objectives of the Gen 3 Particle Pilot Plant (G3P3) project are to design, construct, and operate a multi-MWth, falling particle receiver systems that can operate for thousands of hours, provide six hours of energy storage, and heat a working fluid like sCO2 or air to more than or equal to 700°C.

During Phase III, VPE will continue to support Sandia National Laboratories through design and fabrication of heat exchangers for a greater than or equal to 1 MWth high-pressure sCO2 flow loop in the CSP plant.

VPE is a developer and manufacturer of diffusion bonded microchannel heat exchangers, hydrogen pre-cooling heat exchangers, and commercial off-the-shelf heat exchangers for a wide range of applications.