Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)


Chemical Engineering

Degree Granting Department

Chemical and Biomedical Engineering

Major Professor

D. Yogi Goswami, Ph.D.

Co-Major Professor

Elias K. Stefanakos, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Venkat R. Bhethanabotla, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Babu Joseph, Ph.D.

Committee Member

George P. Philippidis, Ph.D.


Central Receiver, Compact Heat Exchangers, Optimization, Solar Field, Thermodynamic Cycles


Solar power tower technology can achieve higher temperatures than the most common commercial technology using parabolic troughs. In order to take advantage of higher temperatures, new power cycles are needed for generating power at higher efficiencies. Supercritical carbon dioxide (S-CO2) power cycle is one of the alternatives that have been proposed for the future concentrated solar power (CSP) plants due to its high efficiency. On the other hand, carbon dioxide can also be a replacement for current heat transfer fluids (HTFs), i.e. oil, molten salt, and steam. The main disadvantages of the current HTFs are maximum operating temperature limit, required freeze protection units, and complex control systems. However, the main challenge about utilizing s-CO2 as the HTF is to design a receiver that can operate at high operating pressure (about 20 MPa) while maintaining excellent thermal performance. The existing tubular and windowed receivers are not suitable for this application; therefore, an innovative design is required to provide appropriate performance as well as mechanical strength.

This research investigates the application of s-CO2 in solar power tower plants. First, a computationally efficient method is developed for designing the heliostat field in a solar power tower plant. Then, an innovative numerical approach is introduced to distribute the heat flux uniformly on the receiver surface. Next, different power cycles utilizing s-CO2 as the working fluid are analyzed. It is shown that including an appropriate bottoming cycle can further increase the power cycle efficiency. In the next step, a thermal receiver is designed based on compact heat exchanger (CHE) technology utilizing s-CO2 as the HTF. Finally, a 3MWth cavity receiver is designed using the CHE receivers as individual panels receiving solar flux from the heliostat field. Convective and radiative heat transfer models are employed to calculate bulk fluid and surface temperatures. The receiver efficiency is obtained as 80%, which can be further improved by optimizing the geometry of the cavity.