Unsteady effects in direct steam generation in the CLFR

John D. Pye1, Graham L. Morrison2 and Masud Behnia3

Department of Engineering, Australian National University, ACT 2 Department of Mechanical and Manufacturing Engineering, University of New South Wales, Sydney, NSW 3 Dean of Graduate Studies, University of Sydney, NSW E-mail: john.pye@anu.edu.au

Abstract The Compact Linear Fresnel Reflector (CLFR) is a concept for a large-scale line-focus solar concentrator for use in thermal power stations. A linear analogue of the 'central receiver' concept, it incorporates novel single-axis-tracking mirrors together with a line-focus direct-steam-generation thermal receiver. A transient model of direct steam generation in the CLFR thermal receiver is presented. This two-phase flow model uses Friedel pressure drops, and the simplifying assumptions of homogeneous flow and a stationary momentum equation. Dynamics are modelled using the numerical method of lines and a backwards difference formula DAE solver, and is performed using the free/open-source ASCEND modelling environment. During a step change in solar irradiation, a highly non-linear variation in exit flowrate is predicted and an explanation sought. We also present an investigation into the Ledinegg pressure/flowrate instability in the CLFR prototype. This instability arises from inflexion in the pressure-drop-versus-flowrate relationship during flow-boiling, but is seen to be stabilised by the addition of orifice plates upstream of the thermal receiver. A methodology for sizing these orifice plates is provided. A revised system model is presented incorporating the results of the above analysis. It is found that when the CLFR is run at a high exit steam quality, it gives only a slightly greater system efficiency, while increasing the risk of entry into the undesired superheat region.

The Compact Linear Fresnel Reflector (CLFR) is a solar concentrator designed for use in large-scale thermal power stations. It produces steam by 'direct steam generation', which is to say that steam is generated directly in pipes rather than through the use of solarheated oil and a heat exchanger. Optically, the CLFR is arranged as a series of long mirrors arrayed underneath linear absorbers. The mirrors are individually motorised to track the sun daily from east to west. Above each group of twelve mirrors is located an elevated linear absorber containing a bank of high-pressure water pipes onto which the solar radiation is focussed. The absorber pipes are contained within an inverted trapezoidal cavity with a glass cover and rockwool-insulated steel top and sides; this cavity acts to reduce radiative losses and largely eliminates convective losses. The CLFR concept was first presented at the 1997 International Solar Energy Society meeting by Mills and Morrison [6]. Key aspects of the current design are direct steam generation as above, and that the linear Fresnel reflector is 'interleaved', meaning that the mirrors can be focussed at one of several absorbers, allowing denser packing of the mirror field. Mirrors are elastically deformed and adhered to a corrugated steel backing, reducing costs by comparison with sagged glass parabolic troughs. Mirror tracking is also performed via an innovative circular ring with chain drive.

with some system-level modelling of the DISS direct steam generation system based on parabolic trough collectors at the Plataforma Solar de Almería. INTRODUCTION Direct steam generation involves a number of challenges. when irradiation varies. Thirdly. and has resulted an initial prototype 1. An important difference between the present work and other modelling of direct steam generation is that this modelling has dealt with very long uninterrupted pipes of over 300 m length. Major direct steam generation systems other than the CLFR include the DISS/INDITEP project approaching commercialisation stage in Spain [7] and the SolarMundo project understood currently to be seeking commercial-scale contracts [2]. Finally. Reynolds and Jance performed some experimental modelling of heat loss from a trapezoidal cavity [18] and Reynolds also produced a hydrodynamic model based on the Martinelli-Nelson pressure drop correlation [4]. these thermal gradients move along the pipe causing local pipe temperature to vary quite rapidly. but is not a problem for open-loop systems. This work also uses the more accurate Friedel pressure drop correlation. Secondly. which 1 These difficulties arise from both uncertainties in empirical correlations for two-phase flow behaviour as well as the challenges of solving the advection problem for the two-phase flow case. then there are (spatial) thermal gradients along the pipe. this will work towards Liddell power station meeting its obligations under the Mandatory Renewable Energy Target or possible future schemes. varying solar irradiation levels can cause problems in direct steam generation systems.000 m² collector to provide a 36 MW solar augmentation to the coal power plant in the form of displaced high-pressure bleed steam in the final boiler feedwater heater. This can lead to high stresses and metal fatigue.000 m² system approaching completion.Unsteady effects in direct steam generation in the CLFR Pye Intensive development of the CLFR has taken place in recent years by Australian company Solar Heat and Power Pty Ltd. Other modelling of the direct steam generation process has recently been performed by Hirsch et al [21][20]. Thermal and hydrodynamic analysis of CLFR as well as direct steam generation more generally has been the topic of ongoing research at the University of New South Wales under the supervision of Morrison. Odeh created a two-phase flow model of direct steam generation in a SEGS parabolic trough collector include a loss model for the evacuated tube metal-in-glass collector [16]. compared to single-flow flow1. a direct steam generation system needs to be able to accommodate the ejection of most of the fluid present in the collector as it heats up from cold (full of water) to hot (mostly full of steam): for a closed-loop system this requires a 'surge tank' or similar. selecting pipe sizes. which have been well documented in efforts made in the field of nuclear power plant engineering. now continuing with a new US-based company called Ausra Inc.. a pressure instability (called Ledinegg instability) occurs in two-phase flow that means that increasing the pumping flow rate can give a decrease in the pressure drop present in the pipe. with a second prototype 27. Is Solar our only Nuclear option? – ANZSES Solar 07 2 . If superheated steam is being generated. The Liddell power station project has the end goal of using saturated steam from a third-stage 135. and sizing pumps and valves. 2. this instability at best requires a more complex control system. and at worst could lead to damaging pressure and flow-rate oscillations.400 m² system completed at the Liddell power station in 2004 [5]. the presence of twophase flow leads to difficulty in predicting the pressure drops and rates of heat transfer. Firstly. which leads to greater uncertainty when design control algorithms.

subscripts 'w' correspond to the pipe wall. The resulting equations are ∂  −1 ∂ m ˙ = ∂t A ∂z ∂  u  1 ∂  m h ˙ ˙ = qt− ∂t A1 ∂z ∂Tw 1 ˙ ˙ =  q˙ −q −q  ∂t w Aw c p . the absorber heat loss and the heat transferred to the fluid.Unsteady effects in direct steam generation in the CLFR Pye was previously shown to give improved agreement with experimental results for DISS systems [12]. v is the fluid velocity. including the solar flux at the absorber. fluid thermal. h. this allows the absorber flow model to be connected with models for other components to create full system models. Fluid properties relations reresent some significant added complexity in the Is Solar our only Nuclear option? – ANZSES Solar 07 3 . and subscripts for the heat flux q are as shown in Figure 1. Figure 1: Inifinitesimal element in the one-dimensional homogeneous twophase flow model. k. The last four of these are added because they are required in friction and heat transfer calculations. The momentum equation is seen to introduce significant instability to the numerical model. The model is implemented for use in a general purpose mathematical modelling environment called ASCEND [3].w s l t 1  v2 2 ˙ −∂ p ∂ v  1 ∂m 2 = −f − A ∂t ∂z D ∂z [ ] where symbols have their usual meaning as defined by Incropera and DeWitt [17]. An industry-standard steam propertes correlation [9] is also used. as has been noted by Steward and Wendroff [8] and also by Hirsh et al [21]. Here. so the final equation is replaced by 1  v2 ∂p 2 =−f ∂z D In additional to the above set of four differential-algebraic equations. TRANSIENT FLOW MODEL A homogeneous one-dimensional two phase flow model can be derived from simple mass. energy and momentum balance. x}. 3. T.and physical-properties relationships are required to relate the variables {p. in a way that wasn't possible with the earlier UNSW work. rather than interpolated data and bespoke curve-fits used by other workers. μ. and treating the thermal mass of the absorber separately from the fluid. u. ρ.

For the cavity heat loss. Steady-state is seen to be re-established at approximately 1100 s after the step-change. The Friedel pressure drop correlation was used following the development of a steady-state absorber model that using this correlation that showed good agreement with experimental results from the DISS system in Spain [13][12]. particularly as they must be designed to handle the two-phase flow case as well as any possible phase transitions and the discontinuities that result. the Kandlikhar correlation is used [14]. The initial solar flux is set to 335 W/m for initial steady-state solution. There are 40 finite-difference nodes. 3. and the step response is then calculated for a solar flux of 6000 W/m. It is integrated using the (implicit) backwards difference formula algorithm as implemented in the opensource package IDA [1].Unsteady effects in direct steam generation in the CLFR Pye model. For the calculation of f. steam quality and mass flow-rate are given in Figure 2. Is Solar our only Nuclear option? – ANZSES Solar 07 4 . a Nusselt-Grashof correlation is coupled with an approximate two-surface radiative transfer model developed in earlier work by Pye et al [11].Dynamic results A simulation of the CLFR absorber is presented here for a smaller-than-actual collector of length 100 m with inlet conditions of 150 °C and 42 bar. For the internal flow in the pipes. Transient response in fluid and pipe-wall temperature as well as exit enthalpy. This heat flux is sufficient to cause a transition from sub-cooled through saturated to superheated outlet. The overall model is implemented as an equation-based model using the numercial Method of Lines in the mathematical modelling package ASCEND [3]. Finally.1. and the Colebrook equation for single phase regions. heat transfer correlations are required. the Friedel pressure drop correlation [15] is used in the two-phase region.

The flow rate also changes quickly at the start. This instability. Of most concern in these results is the variation in the mass flow rate. Some numerical problems are still present in the model. 4. high-friction liquid flow.5 kg/s before returning to a steady-state level of 0. we see that the pipe wall temperature remains about 30 °C above the fluid temperature. if this instability is present Is Solar our only Nuclear option? – ANZSES Solar 07 5 . and its response lags that of the fluid temperature in the case of entry into the saturation region. as this latter boundary does not result in the same volumetric expansion as the former. which is proportional to the square of flow velocity. but solutions have been proposed for these problems. Using a steady-state model of the full-scale CLFR Stage 2 design. It is seen that as the flow at the exit crosses the saturated liquid boundary. saturated and superheated flow. at absorber outlet. Figure 3 shows the results for the 44 bar. and it follows that the length of pipe occupied by fluid in a two-phase state will grow. and a larger portion of the pipe containing fluid of lower viscosity and causing lower pipe friction. The effect of this additional pressure drop is to 'tilt' the overall pressure-versus-flowrate curve such that it no longer contains a negative gradient for any interval of flow rates. This orifice ratio is defined as the ratio of the orifice diameter to the pipe inside diameter. It can be seen from the transient response that the mass flow rate peaks at over 0.26 kg/s. but leads the response in the case of the initial step change. it was found for an inlet pressure of 44 bar and inlet temperature of 175 °C. the required orifice ratio becomes approximately 0. can be explained by considering the case where steady flow boiling occurs in a pipe at high flow rate such that the pipe outlet sees saturated steam at quality of 50%. this results in a reduction in overall pressure drop as flow rate increases. as expected.Unsteady effects in direct steam generation in the CLFR Pye Figure 2: Transient response. when the exit flow first enters the saturation region (quality x>0). This adds a significant additional pressure drop in the part of the pipe containing the subcooled flow. If lower pressures and inlet temperatures are allowed for. The transient response given here should be expanded to cover a range of other transients including responses to negative steps in solar irradiation. No such effect is seen when the outlet flow crosses the saturated gas boundary. For conditions of practical interest.325. which is in fact unlike to be be realistic. These areas are proposed for further investigation. LEDINEGG PRESSURE INSTABILITY Instability occurs in flow-boiling in general. although this can be attributed to a thermal expansion of the fluid in single-phase state. The above modelling relates to a simple analysis of just the absorber and upstream orifice. and changes in inlet flow rate and pressure. It can be seen from the energy balance that decreasing the flow rate will cause the outlet quality of the steam to rise.4 would be required to ensure the pressure-versus-flowrate relationship was monotonically increasing. to a step increase in solar irradiation. It is also of interest that the mass flow rate appears to begin increasing almost immediately. as a result of the changing wall shear stress for subcooled. whereas it takes quite a long time for steady-state flow to return. This is as a result of the fluid in the pipe changing to gas. Firstly. the mass flow rate increases sharply. causing fluid in the pipe to be displaced at the outlet at a rate faster than the flow at the inlet. The result of these effects is that there is a smaller portion of the pipe containing high-viscosity. a necessity in order to make the system controllable using pressure signals. The standard solution for Ledinegg instability is to introduce pipe orifices upstream of the flow boiling region [14]. an orifice ratio of less that 0. All twelve pipes in the absorber area treated as having identical flow rate and pressure drop. called Ledinegg instability. Variation in mass flow rate also changes sharply at t = 250 s. including increasing the accuracy of the derivative calculations used for the system Jacobian [10]. Finally. 175 °C inlet conditions.

5. even if the stability in the absorber is neutralised. the instability is removed and the pressure drop versus flow rate relationship becomes monotonic. minor losses.Unsteady effects in direct steam generation in the CLFR Pye in an individual tube then it will be necessary for orifices to be attached upstream of each individual pipe. and replaced by a smaller steam drum. Barnea and Taitel investigated two phase flow in parallelconnected pipes and predicted this instability using a similar model [19]. The 'surge tank' present in earlier designs has thus been removed. As the orifice ratio Dorif / D pipe is varied. with upstream pressure 44 bar and temperature 175 °C. the concept for integration of the collector with the power station has changed significantly. Natan. approximately 7% more flow would go down the short flow path. with the result that the quality at the exit of the short connecting pipe would be 0. Initially cautious plant engineers required the use of a heat exchanger to isolate the CLFR flow loop from the main power station coolant loop.8 at the exit of the long connecting pipes. A new system model was therefore developed using pipe pressure drop models. due to differences the length of pipe conneting an absorber to the steam drum. Figure 3: Ledinegg instability for pressure drop in a Stage 2 CLFR absorber combined with upstream orifice. CLFR absorber and thermal loss model. Secondly. Modelling of absorbers with different downstream pipework lengths but equal overall pressure drop showed that without modified upstream orifice. it is still possible that instability could arise between absorbers. and orifice plates sized to eliminate the Ledinegg instability as above. The model was built up using equation-based models using the ASCEND modelling Is Solar our only Nuclear option? – ANZSES Solar 07 6 . control valve.72 if the flow rate were set to give an exit quality of 0. The result has been that the closed-loop fixed-volume. It is therefore proposed that orifices upstream of the absorber would need to be of different diameters to attempt to equalise the flow through each absorber. REVISED SYSTEM MODEL Over the course of the CLFR design and prototype process. located up in the air slightly above absorber height. this heat exchanger has been eliminated. for the purpose of ensuring that the absorber can be fully charged with water at the time of startup. In more recent designs. fixed-mass pressure problems that occurred with that system have been eliminated. quadratic pump curves. as seen in Figure 4.

1 bar. Figure 4: The modelled CLFR system module with three absorbers. Without a model that includes mass hold-up and and two-phase flow. with an outlet pressure of 42 bar.55 bar for system controllability. This requires a pressure drop through the pump-plus-controlvalue of 1. resulting in a required pump pressure of 1. for the over-sized pump selected for installation on the prototype. ASCEND precedence-orders the variables in the system and solves for the unknowns in the necessary sequence. Standard operating conditions were selected to be 7. The only major simplification being made here is the removal of the transient momentum equation.6 bar. It is important to note that a system model of a direct steam generation system requires some significant detail in the model of the absorber. 6.7 kg/s per CLFR module. plus associated pipework. This has the advantage of allowing different system parameters to be 'fixed' and 'freed'. CONCLUSIONS A transient two-phase flow model was created and was shown to exhibit qualitatively plausible results. on the basis that the speed-of-sound pressure waves predicted by that equation are too fast to be of interest here. as opposed to in models of nuclear reactor 'loss of coolant' events where they can be of critical importance in the first few milliseconds after a leak develops. with the absorbers being 310 m long and containing 12 pipes each. The control value present immediately downstream of the pump has been given a design pressure drop of 0. 5. The net absorbed heat per module of three absorbers is 13 MW. The elements of the transient model were incorporated into an improved overall system Is Solar our only Nuclear option? – ANZSES Solar 07 7 . and these phenomena are central to being able to predict the system operating point. and with an effective concentration ratio (after optical losses) of 27. a steam drum and a pump.Results A number of scenarios and design investigations were performed using the system model. the correct heat transfer and pressure drop results can not be obtained. Experimental results from the Stage 2 prototype will be used to verify this model once they are available.1 kW. At the design point. The pump efficiency for the design point.Unsteady effects in direct steam generation in the CLFR Pye environment. was estimated to be 56%. the collector efficiency was estimated to be 92%.1. Pumping power is 2.

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