A dense particle suspension, also called an upflow bubbling fluidized bed, is an innovative alternative to the heat transfer fluids commonly used in concentrated solar power plants. An additional advantage of this technology is that it allows for direct thermal storage due to the large heat capacity and maximum temperature of the particle suspension. The key to the proposed process is the effective heat transfer from the solar heated surfaces to the heat transfer fluid, i.e. the circulating solid suspension. In order to better understand the process and to optimise the design of the solar receiver, it is of paramount importance to know how particles behave inside the bundle of small tubes.
To access to the particle motion in the solar receiver, two different techniques are carried out : experimental using positron emission particle tracking (PEPT) and 3D numerical simulation via an Eulerian n-fluid approach with NEPTUNE_CFD code. Both numerical predictions and PEPT measurements describe an upward flow at the centre of the transport tube with a back-mixing flow near the wall which influences the heat transfer mechanism. Comparisons between experiment and computation were carried out for the radial profiles of the solid volume fraction, and vertical and radial time-averaged and variance velocities of solid, and demonstrating the capability of NEPTUNE_CFD code to simulate this peculiar upflow bubbling fluidized bed. © 2016 Elsevier B.V.