Woodruff School of Mechanical Engineering

Mechanical Engineering Seminar


Gen 3 Particle Pilot Plant (G3P3): Integrated High-Temperature Particle System for Concentrating Solar Power


Dr. Clifford K. Ho


Sandia National Laboratories


Wednesday, August 21, 2019 at 10:30:00 AM


MRDC Building, Room 4211


Dr. Peter Loutzenhiser


This presentation will provide an overview of Concentrating Solar Power (CSP) and research at Sandia National Laboratories to increase performance and reduce costs through a recent DOE award to build a next-generation CSP pilot plant using solid particles instead of a fluid as the heat-transfer and storage medium. CSP uses a large array of mirrors to focus sunlight onto a receiver containing a heat-transfer medium, which absorbs the high heat flux (about 1000 times the irradiance of the sun). A heat engine (e.g., Rankine cycle, Stirling cycle, Brayton cycle) then converts the heat to mechanical work to generate electricity. CSP systems can produce utility-scale power (hundreds of megawatts) and can store excess thermal energy for electricity production at night or when the sun is not shining. The ability to store large amounts of energy cheaply and reliably gives CSP a significant advantage over other intermittent renewable energy sources such as wind and photovoltaics.


Dr. Cliff Ho is a Fellow of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers and a Senior Scientist at Sandia National Laboratories, where he has worked since 1993 on problems involving solar energy, water safety and sustainability, heat- and mass-transfer processes in porous media, and microchemical sensor systems for environmental monitoring. Since 2008, Dr. Ho has worked in the Concentrating Solar Technologies Department at Sandia, where he performs research on high-temperature solar thermal receivers, particle technologies and storage, heliostat optics, and systems analyses. Dr. Ho has authored over 200 scientific papers, holds 13 patents, is an author and co-editor of two books, and is an Associate Editor of Solar Energy Journal. He received an Outstanding Professor Award at the University of New Mexico in 1997, and he received the national Asian American Engineer of the Year Award in 2010. Dr. Ho received an R&D 100 Award in 2013 for his development of the Solar Glare Hazard Analysis Tool, and an R&D 100 Award in 2016 for his development of the Falling Particle Receiver for Concentrated Solar Energy. In 2008, he won Discover Magazine's 'The Future of Energy in Two-Minutes-or-Less' video contest. Dr. Ho received his B.S. in mechanical engineering from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1989, and his M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in mechanical engineering from the University of California at Berkeley in 1990 and 1993.


Refreshments will be served.