Servicio de Información Comunitario sobre Investigación y Desarrollo - CORDIS

Thermal losses monitoring through walls of a solar chemical reactor

The achievement is determining the thermal efficiency of a solar reactor whose input thermal power is about 300 kW, the working temperature is 1600 K. Its operation time is a complete day: daytime for heating thanks to concentrated solar energy, nighttime for cooling down to be able to prepare the plant for the next operating day.

The determination of the thermal losses through the walls of reactor is realized with a combinaison of a set of 17 thermocouples and a fluxmeter (sensor delivering a voltage directly proportional to the thermal flux through it) placed at different choosen points of the reactor, both inside and outside.

The combinaison of a pair of thermocouples and the fluxmeter allows the direct measurement of the thermal resistance of the walls of the reactor. This parameter, combined with the thermocouples-based temperature map of the reactor, thereafter allows the determination of the thermal losses of the reactor with a good accuracy only degraded by local geometrical complexities of the reactor.

Exploitation of the resulting data is a key improvement to realize more reliable energetic assessment of the plant, as the thermal losses are an important part of the balance of such systems.

This instrumentation configuration and its associated methodology can be used to enhance the thermal efficiency of a reactor, as we developed here for a chemical solar-based application, leading to substantial energy and money savings. This knowledge can be applied further to any system working at high temperature (several hundred of Kelvins and higher).

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