Document Type


Publication Date



Statler College of Engineering and Mining Resources


Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering


Incorporating thermal energy storage (TES) into a concentrating solar power (CSP) system extends the power production hours, eliminating intermittency and reducing the Levelized Cost of the Energy (LCOE). The designed TES system was integrated with a 3 kW free-piston Stirling convertor. A NaF–NaCl eutectic salt was chosen as the phase change material (PCM) with a melting temperature of 680 °C. This eutectic salt has an energy density that is 5 to 10 times that of a typical molten salt PCM. In order to overcome the drawbacks of the material having a low thermal conductivity, heat pipes were embedded into the PCM to enhance the heat transfer rate within the system. Since the dish collector tracks the sun over the course of the day, two operational extremes were tested on the system; horizontal (zero solar elevation at sunrise/sunset) and vertical (solar noon). Although the system’s performance was below the expectations due to improperly sized wicks in the secondary heat pipes, the results indicated that the Stirling engine was able to produce 1.3 kWh of electricity by extracting latent heat energy from the PCM; thus, the concept of the design was validated.

Source Citation

Qiu, S., Solomon, L., & Rinker, G. (2017). Development of an Integrated Thermal Energy Storage and Free-Piston Stirling Generator for a Concentrating Solar Power System. Energies, 10(9), 1361.


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