Thermal Energy Storage (TES) systems are central elements of various types of power plants operated using renewable energy sources. Packed bed TES can be considered as a cost–effective solution in concentrated solar power plants (CSP). Such a device is made up of a tank filled with a granular bed through which heat-transfer fluid circulates. However, in such devices, the tank might be subjected to catastrophic failure induced by a mechanical phenomenon known as thermal ratcheting. Thermal stresses are accumulated during cycles of loading and unloading until the failure happens. This paper aims at studying the evolution of tank wall stresses over granular bed thermal cycles, taking into account both thermal and mechanical loads, with a numerical model based on the discrete element method (DEM). Simulations were performed to study two different thermal configurations: (i) the tank is heated homogenously along its height or (ii) with a vertical gradient of temperature. Then, the resulting loading stresses applied on the tank are compared as well the response of the internal granular material.

Keywords: Thermodynamic states and processes, Numerical methods, Renewable energy, Failure analysis, Power plants, Discrete element method, Granular materials, Oceanography, Thermal effects, Concentrated solar power

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