Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS


SFERA-II Report Summary

Project ID: 312643
Country: Spain

Periodic Report Summary 2 - SFERA-II (Solar Facilities for the European Research Area-Second Phase)

Project Context and Objectives:
Project objectives corresponding to the second reporting period of the project can be summarized as follows:

WP1 Management

The main objective of this WP is the coordination and management of the SFERA II project. CIEMAT is responsible for day-to-day global administrative, technical and scientific coordination of the project, and must act as the primary communication route between the consortium partners and the EU project officers.

WP2 Dissemination and publicity

The objectives and impacts of this WP were clearly stated in the Annex I of the Grant Agreement. Dissemination and publicity activities will be one of the central points of the Networking activities to ensure a sustainable visibility of the project:
- Firstly, this WP will be in close relations with all the other WPs in order to continue fostering internally the culture of communication and cooperation that has already been put in place between the partners of SFERA I.
- Secondly, it will put strong emphasis on external communication towards the general public, dissemination of results, publicity regarding the project, outreach to the user community. A strong experience has been already gained by the WP leader during SFERA I to establish a communication plan but it always needs to be improved.

WP3 Promotion of Innovation in CSP based on SFERA activities

The main objective is to increase the potential of innovation of SFERA by addressing the innovation opportunities created by the project activities and by reinforcing links with companies that drive innovation. The key tasks proposed in this work package aim at developing the conditions to set a world-class eco-system that may speed up the process from knowledge (generated by the activities of the solar concentrating research infrastructures) to new products, processes and services.
In order to reinforce the partnership with industry a strong collaboration is to be established with ESTELA (European Solar Thermal Electricity Association) which is the main industrial association in CSP. The collaboration is increased by offering trainings for industry, bringing research and innovation together.
The expected impacts are targeted at various levels:
- To develop the innovation culture inside the SFERA consortium.
- To educate engineers and technicians in CSP facilities operation.
- To create innovative products and services.
- To increase competitiveness of European industry in the field of CSP.
- To propose new jobs related to CSP development and maintenance.

WP4 Educational outreach activities

The activity on education aims at promoting CSP research and this on two levels:
- The first activity consists of annual summer or winter schools aiming at presenting the SFERA Solar facilities to potential users and at teaching theoretically the scientific basis of CSP activities to a whole range of public. The activity also aims at transferring the knowledge gained in the project to students as well as researchers or engineers from industry.
- The second activity is intended towards internal educational outreach. As far as the project consortium is concerned, the main objective of this task is to organize annual doctoral colloquia with the partners’ PhD students (also in the frame of SolLab alliance) in order exchange between SFERA partners’ main research results, possible new project proposals and cooperation domains. This action is focused on strengthening the cooperation between the partners of the project in order to improve the services to the users.
Major expected impacts would be to attract talented scientists and potential new PhD students or post-doc and arouse a strong motivation for CSP research, which would then increase and foster the use of the European Infrastructures.

WP5 Exchange of best practices for harmonization of approaches

For a better harmonization of the CSP activities within Europe and a better understanding of what is at stake at each other partners’ laboratory, this is important to emphasize the exchange of best practices. This will be implemented in two ways.
- To carry on with what has been worked on in SFERA-I in the JRA tasks on solar flux measurement, 1 inter-comparison campaign of flux measurement instruments used at CNRS will be set up. Best practices on practical and technical aspects of the instruments will be shared in order to standardize the use of these instruments among the partners. A particular attention is turned to solar flux measurement at the focus of concentrating systems because it is a key data for the evaluation of system efficiency (receivers, reactors, output of secondary concentrators...).
- Exchange of personnel will be reinforced between the partners in order to share know-how, participate in common R&D activities and to promote common technical and management methods. It should provide the basis for skill enhancement and skill conservation.
It will result in a better co-operation and interconnectivity between the researchers, engineers, technicians regarding working methodologies and common approaches for CSP activities. These activities are crucial to carry on unified/coherent CSP activities and improve the services to the users at the different facilities.

WP6 Joint Management of 'Transnational Access' activities (WPs 7 – 10)

Transnational access activities were intended to provide access to their state-of-the-art high-flux solar research facilities unique in Europe and in the world. The main objective for the second reporting period (RP2) is to grant the proportional amount of access, that is, approximately the estimated figures shown in Table 2 (total weeks/users/days/projects divided into four years of project duration).

WP11 Development of Joint Calibration Procedures and Facilities for Sensors

Regarding Task 1 (Standardized Calibration of solar irradiance sensors), the following objectives are planned during the reporting period in Annex I:

Calibration facility for thermal irradiance sensors and Standardization of RSI calibration
- Final set-up and operation of calibration facility for field pyrheliometers and field pyranometers at PSA operated/used by the different research institutions following ISO 9059, ISO 9846 and ISO 9847
- Parallel measurements of the aerosol optical depth, circumsolar radiation and documentation of the sky conditions with all sky imagers
- Ensure WRR (World Radiometric Reference)- traceability of solar radiation calibration by participation in absolute cavity radiometer calibration campaigns with DLR’s and Ciemat absolute cavity radiometers
- Calibration campaigns of field irradiance sensors to improve and standardize the quality of European research facilities (DLR, CIEMAT, CNRS)
- A 2-week stay of CNRS to calibrate their pyrheliometers at PSA and to exchange know-how
- Round-Robin test of calibration accuracy for different method and sites (e.g. in Madrid, PSA)(Ciemat, DLR)
- Evaluation of calibration methods for Rotating Shadowband Irradiometers

Regarding Task 2 (Bypass facility for measuring the thermal heat capacity of heat transfer fluids and calibrating mass flow sensors), the following objectives are planned during the reporting period in Annex I:

Increase measurement accuracy of test facility at European research centre
- Campaign to increase accuracy of installed mass flow meters and to measure oil heat capacity in test facility of DLR/CIEMAT at PSA.

WP12 Pyrometric Temperature Measurement Methods for High-Concentration Solar Facilities and Solar Simulators

- Finish implementation of the double modulation pyrometry at PSI is high flux solar simulator (HFSS). Perform calibration and experiments at HFSS and IF. Assess double modulation pyrometry at these two facilities.
- Design and build fast shutter for tests of double modulation pyrometry at PROMES.
- Measure relative emissivity changes at IF.
- Investigation of a novel IR-camera for monitoring temperature patterns under irradiation by concentrated solar light.
- Improve self-adapting temperature control system at small solar furnace including active cooling.

WP13 Determination of physical properties of CSP materials under concentrated solar irradiation

Determination of thermo-mechanical properties under concentrated solar radiation.
- Achievement of a solar experiment design based on acoustic detection for materials assessment and characterisation.
- Implementation of this experiment on reference samples to compare mechanical damage patterns detected by acoustic emission method to the expected modelled behaviour.

Determination of thermo-optical properties: spectral directional emissivity measurements at high
- Continuation of the commissioning of an improved setup to determine the spectral directional emissivity of materials depending on the temperature using a spectro-radiometer, including metrological performance assessment.
- Preparation of a comparison campaign between the methods used by the partners to assess the emissivity of reference materials.

Determination of key properties in the case of porous materials in CSP applications
- Improvement of XPS and XRD methods to characterise the surface and the bulk properties of porous materials.
- Development of a solar test bed for determination of heat transfer properties of porous materials.
- Improvement of numerical methods to determine transfer properties of porous materials and compare them with experimental data.

WP14 Characterization of solar concentrators and interconnecting elements

Additionally to the overall management and coordination of WP14 this work package is composed of four Tasks with the following main objectives for the period July 2015 - December 2016:

Characterization of solar concentrators´ geometrical quality
- Definition of a protocol draft for measurement of geometrical quality of concentrators that allows to compare results produced by different methodologies (i.e. photogrametry, deflectometry, laser scanner, ...)
- Start the round robin test to compare different methodologies for characterization of solar concentrators´ geometrical quality

Protocols for characterization of parabolic-trough concentrators
- Definition of testing methods for determining of optical quality, thermal losses, incidence angle modifier, and angular torsion of parabolic-trough collectors.

Protocols for characterization of Heliostats
- The final objective of Task 14.3 is the definition of a “protocol for evaluation of optical and geometrical quality of heliostats”. The specific objective for this second period is to discuss a first draft protocol inside the consortium and the international working group of the SolarPACES agreement.

Testing infrastructures for collectors´ inter-connections
- Construction of a test bench and the realization of preoperational tasks that lead to its operation. It should be ready for testing all types of interconnections devices used in parabolic trough collector fields, i.e. ball-joints, flexible hoses or hybrid devices using thermal oil as heat transfer fluid.

WP15 Characterization of heat transfer fluids and heat storage materials

Improvement of performances for laboratory test equipment

The aim of the work done in Task 2 in this reporting period was aiming:

- To increase the allowed analysis temperature range, from ambient up to very high temperatures for chemical/physical analysis of HSM/HTF materials, by new hardware acquisition and by upgrading the present instrumentation. To reach this goal the research team focused on the assessment of an experimental set-up for the measurement of the thermal conductivity of thermal fluids, which required the design and construction of an innovative probe, based on the “hot wire” method.
- To develop a laboratory scale experimental rig for the studies of thermodynamics and kinetic features involved in the thermal degradation of HTF/HSM, in presence of the most common environmental conditions, mainly designing and assembling a set-up for the study of the kinetics presented by the reactions involved in the chemical degradation of thermal fluid. For this purpose, it is necessary to have a batch reactor within which the temperature is homogeneous and constant, and the pressure and composition of the headspace atmosphere is controlled. The evolved gas are detected and quantified by gas chromatography.

Development of an electronic database for materials and components features concerning CSP application

Regarding Task 3, the following objectives are planned during the reporting period in Annex I:

- A complete state of the art research was carried out, in particular concerning the phase diagrams and thermophysical properties of molten salt multicomponent mixtures.
- A study of solid fillers as sensible heat storage fluids was carried, and an investigation of storage configurations where sensible and latent heat systems are employed together was also conducted.
- Also a survey on the most potentially interesting chemical storage systems has been conducted. Chemical storage systems allow, in principle, to make the CSP storage systems more versatile and to design a long period (even seasonal) heat accumulation. A comprehensive review of the most interesting currently proposed techniques was completed. Moreover, also the topic of “solar fuels”, i.e. hydrogen or combustibles obtained using solar energy, was addressed.
- The charging of nanoparticles to thermal fluids is reported to have the effect to improve their thermophysical properties. To elucidate this point, it was necessary a complete state of the art research about this topic. Moreover, since the thermal fluids charged with nanoparticles are mainly proposed as phase change materials (PCM), it was also needed a preliminary resume and classification of the most commonly investigated PCM systems.
Project Results:
WP1 summary of activities
During the second reporting period of SFERA-II project, it has not been celebrated any general coordination meeting. As it was decided in the second coordination meeting and reported in the first reporting period, the third and last coordination meeting will take place at the end of the project (between October and November 2017). However, and following also the recommendations given by the technical coordinator of SFERA-II to the WPs leaders, several internal WPs’ coordination meetings were carried out from July 2015 until December 2016.
No deviations or important drawbacks have been detected during this second reporting period.

WP2 summary of activities
As part of this Workpackage, the activities to be reported are in line with the DoW. The website has been updated after the end of SFERA-I to integrate the new information of SFERA-II. The other dissemination activities so far have been a success:
- The brochure is distributed to the different events attended by the partners.
- The attendance as exhibitor to the SolarPACES conferences and CSP today conferences were a success to attract more people in our access programme and also our training for industries for which we got many interests. There were also the participation to other conferences as exhibitor to the CSP today conference and ICRI conference.
- A second article in a magazine on renewable energies with special sections on CSP has been published. This was distributed largely during the EUSEW event of the European Commission in order to target a more general public rather than specialists on CSP.
- It was decided that the project should have a presence on social networks and in particular LinkedIn on which the SFERA II group was created and where articles on the project to inform about the activities are published. There are now 254 members who are informed on any news related to SFERA II.

WP3 summary of activities
The activities in this WP are fitting well with what is described in the DoW.
The activities for promoting the innovation inside SFERA are ongoing. As planned, a subcontractor whose aim is to map the potential for innovations inside SFERA and provide plans for future exploitation has been selected. This company has started with the access activities and have contacted all users of our infrastructures to see with them how to exploit the experiments done within the framework of SFERA-II. Unfortunately, in the course of 2015 – 2016, the subcontractor selected has filled in bankruptcy and CNRS is in the process of replacing them, so that the work can be finished. The list of potential innovations for the JRA activities has already been mapped which is the deliverable 3.5.
CNRS has started planning with ESTELA the potential ways for disseminating the innovation created inside the SFERA-II project. The first meeting took place in June 2016.
Three trainings for the industry have already implemented for which many people have showed interest, one at PSA, another one at ENEA, and the last one at CNRS. All courses have been a success and thus it has been decided by the consortium to conduct another course not planned in the DoW seeing the demand for such courses.

WP4 summary of activities
The activities in this WP are fitting very well with what is described in the DoW. These are activities that have been going on since the first SFERA project.
Three doctorial colloquiums have been implemented, for which the attendance has increased since SFERA I. It was reach t least 50 PhD students from the partners who gather all together for increasing collaboration and knowledge of what is going on at the other partner’s institution. This is really fruitful.
We have also organized three SFERA schools on topics that are really mainstream at the moment in the CSP community. The attendance is also really good. These schools are a good way to inform about our project and get the experts of the project into disseminating their knowledge to the scientific community which is always creating strong interests.

WP5 summary of activities
In the task 1, it deals with the flux measurement campaigns, two to be organized once at CNRS and the second one at PSI. The first one was supposed to happen in autumn 2015 as planned in the DoW but due to maintenance issues with the solar furnace in Odeillo this had to be postponed to summer 2016. The deliverable is ongoing and should be ready really shortly.
In the task 2, mobilities have already taken place as described below.

WP6 summary of activities
The publicity for the 3rd SFERA-II Access Campaigns was a success since many applications were received. A period was set aside for collecting proposals. Actually, for the third campaign, the period to apply was set for the first time from 1st September 2015 to 7th February 2016. The User Selection Panel (USP) meeting took place in Rome (at ENEA premises) on 31st March 2016. After the USP meeting, where the proposals were discussed among the USP members, the list with all the user groups granted access were published in the SFERA-II project website, and the corresponding acceptance and rejection letters were sent to the leaders’ groups.
WP7, WP8, WP9 and WP10 summary of activities
Transnational access activities have evolved differently in the four institutions offering access. Considering the whole scheduled access for each partner as in Annex I, the total access percentage already performed by each institution regarding access weeks (and considering all facilities jointly) is 43% for PSI, 91% for CIEMAT, 106% for UAL-CIESOL, 54% for CNRS and 18% for ENEA.
In the following table the access percentage accomplished by each partner’s facility offered within SFERA-II access activities is shown. It is clear from this table that not all the facilities offered are of interest for the users and that bigger effort is needed to promote the access offered to these facilities in order to achieve the number of weeks scheduled in Annex I.

WP11 summary of activities
Within the framework of the WP11, in Task 1 a joint calibration facility for field pyrheliometer and pyranometer was erected at the PSA (Plataforma Solar de Almeria). Calibration procedures according to existing standards were developed. Three calibration campaigns with in total 80 field sensors were conducted and evaluated. During the 2016 campaign the PSA team was supported for two weeks by a CNRS scientist.
In Task 2 the measurement accuracy of a bypass to measure inline the heat capacity of heat transfer fluids used in parabolic trough plants was enhanced. Its measurement accuracy was validated in a water circuit. Then, it was used to measure the heat capacity of the HTF used in the KONTAS facility at PSA under operating conditions. The readings of the Coriolis sensor integrated into the bypass are used to check the accuracy of the installed mass flow meter.
These calibrations and agreed procedures lead to the required high measurement accuracy which enables European research centres and industries to develop and optimize CSP components (collectors, receivers, solar sensors, etc.) or entire CSP systems.

WP12 summary of activities
Implementation of double modulation pyrometry (DMP) at the 50 kW solar simulator and at the 1 kW imaging furnace have been achieved. Temperature calibration and first experiments have been performed and the assessment of the method including a MC error and sensitivity analysis is being finished now. First relative emissivity changes during experiments have been measured.
Design of the fast shutter needed to test DMP at PROMES has been achieved and fabrication is ongoing. Possible samples for the test have been selected. Active temperature control of samples at the small solar furnaces at PROMES has continued and is now able the cope with rapidly varying solar irradiation as well as active cooling. The use of the new IR camera based pyrometer at CIEMAT was extended to measure emissivities of irradiated samples.

WP13 summary of activities
Industrial and academic research centres require accurate and reliable knowledge of the behaviour of the materials they choose, especially when stressed by thermal gradients such as endured for Concentrated Solar Plants (CSP) applications where the nights and the clouds can cause temperature drop or rise in seconds between 800°C and ambient temperature.
Thanks to SFERA-II, involved researchers are developing new experimental techniques in order to improve this material knowledge hence the component lifetime and performance:
- Non-destructive acoustic methods to monitor, under concentrated solar heating, the behaviour of the materials;
- Spectral directional emissivity of materials depending on the temperature in order to improve the determination of the components thermal efficiency, and;
- New methods to characterize the performance of the promising porous materials both for chemistry and heating applications: surface and bulk characterisation, transport performance by experimental characterisation and tomography-based simulation.

WP14 summary of activities
The main results achieved in this WP until December 2016 are:
- A draft protocol for mirror characterization using different techniques has been prepared and it is under discussion. A comparison of three different methodologies was carried out at the PSA in 2016;
- A draft report describing the procedure for measuring the peak optical efficiency, incidence angle modifier and heat losses of a parabolic trough collector has been prepared;
- A draft protocol to define the geometrical and optical quality of heliostats has been prepared, and;
- A test bench suitable for evaluating all types of parabolic trough collectors inter-connections devices has been designed and its implementation is almost finished (expected to be ready in month 36).

WP15 summary of activities
The task T15.1 was completed last year, with the delivery of the reports D15.1 and D15.5. Currently the other two tasks are ongoing, namely Task 15.2 and Task 15.3. Concerning the former, three different experimental campaigns are involved:
- In the determination of thermal conductivity for molten salts;
- In setting up an experimental facility to investigate the chemical stability of thermal fluids at high temperatures, and;
- In the improvement of measurement techniques for molten salts as HTF/HSM at high temperatures (up to 700°C). The first subtask has been completed.
With regard to the Task 15.3, all the scheduled work has been completed in time or with minor delays. The work consisted of a state of the art analysis of the properties and applications of molten nitrates, phase change materials (PCM), chemical storage systems and solids as sensible heat storage materials.
Potential Impact:
All European infrastructure operators in CSP area of knowledge are participating in SFERA-II to improve the scientific capability of their installations in a coordinated manner to ensure technological leadership for the European Union. One of the expected results is the creation of a European Solar Lab which would also contribute to a sustainable, secure European energy supply and to a firm basis for global competitiveness of European technology suppliers in this field, with strong prospects of growing worldwide markets in the coming decades. This idea is about to come true nowadays: EU-SOLARIS is the name of the project concerning a new large multi-site facility for CSP research at a European scale, relying on the existing ones. The project has been selected as an ESFRI (European Strategic Forum of Research Infrastructures) project in the evaluation round of year 2010. Most of the SFERA-II community members are participating also in the ‘Preparatory Phase’ proposal for this new facility in the same ‘Capacities’ call. This will be the consolidation of a process initiated in year 2004 when some of the partners of this project already joined forces to create an Alliance of European Laboratories for Research and Technology on Solar Concentrating Systems, called ‘Sol LAB’.

Finished SFERA project had much to do with crystallization of those activities listed above, which demonstrated the structuring impact of this "Integrating Activity", promoting a much stronger integration of European Infrastructures. It initiated also the process to harmonize the utilization of national and European infrastructure resources most effectively to achieve them. SFERA-II project is intended to go far beyond in this social and technical impact. Some networking activities are proposed for strengthening links with the users' community (courses, conferences, publications...), thus facilitating cross-disciplinary fertilizations across fields and between academia and industry and an increase in the skills of European scientific human potential. A specific networking work package is proposed in SFERA-II, in order to foster innovation and integration of industrial partners in CSP field. Among other actions there are several on-site, intensive, training courses for industrial researchers and technicians planned. The involvement of the European Solar Thermal Industrial Association (ESTELA) as partner of this project ensures a smooth and fruitful performance of all these innovation-oriented measures. Specific measures will be adopted also to attract industrial users to the "Transnational Access" activities, though the particularities of such kind of users.

Expected resulting technologies/solutions in SFERA-II would concern the following: (i) Fluids for heat transfer/storage; (ii) Control algorithms; (iii) High-temperature materials for solar receivers and reflectors; (iv) Energy exchangers: solar radiation-thermal energy; (v) Thermochemical processes able to generate H2 with a high efficiency, etc...

Expected impacts on the facilities: The access activity forces related partners to keep the facilities up and running, optimizing the operating and maintenance procedures.
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