Air curtain control system to reduce heat loss from solar thermal receivers

ANU researchers have designed an air curtain control system for thermal solar receivers for concentrating solar power applications.


Concentrating solar power (CSP) technologies are less mature than other renewable technologies, such as photovoltaics and wind, however there is potential for increased operation efficiency and competitiveness with further development of CSPs, as problems associated with variability of generation that are present in other technologies are removed.

Solar thermal receivers are used in CSP systems to collect directed solar radiation from parabolic reflective dishes and heliostat fields. Heat loss from the receiver to the external environment results in reduced efficiency, and strategies to control these losses are essential to increase receiver performance and to reduce the per-unit capital expenditure requirement. One promising strategy to reduce convective losses is to generate an air curtain across the aperture that isolates the receiver, and reduces heat losses associated with the flow that would otherwise exchange hot air from near the receiver surface, using jets of relatively cold ambient air. This concept has been commonly applied to reduce thermal losses across building doorways, in open refrigerated displays and to isolate clean/dust free environments.


The influence of an air curtain on the convective heat loss from receivers has been investigated in detail by researchers at ANU. They have developed a system that automatically controls generation of the air curtain in response to operating conditions, such as the receiver orientation, operating temperature and wind conditions, and adjusts the speed and angle of the air jet in order to maintain optimum suppression of convective heat losses.


This technology has intended applications in point-focus CSP systems with cavity or cavity-like receivers. Such systems could include the cavity receivers on concentrating dish systems and heliostat central tower receivers.

We are looking for licensees for this technology who are interested in either directly adopting the technology for their own projects. Alternatively, we seek any partners who would be prepared to work with us and further refine and develop the concept.