Faculty Advisor or Committee Member

Brian J. Savilonis, Advisor

Faculty Advisor or Committee Member

Raghvendra V. Cowlagi, Committee Member

Faculty Advisor or Committee Member

Ivana Milanovic, Committee Member

Faculty Advisor or Committee Member

John M. Sullivan, Jr., Committee Member

Faculty Advisor or Committee Member

Fiona Levey, Committee Member




Thermal energy storage (TES) systems play a crucial part in the success of concentrated solar power as a reliable thermal energy source. The economics and operational effectiveness of TES systems are the subjects of continuous research for improvement, in order to lower the localized cost of energy (LCOE). This study investigates the use of spherical tanks and their role in sensible heat storage in liquids. In the two tank system, typical cylindrical tanks were replaced by spherical tanks of the same volume and subjected to heat loss, stress analysis, and complete tank cost evaluation. The comparison revealed that replacing cylindrical tanks by spherical tanks in two tank molten salt storage systems could result in a 30% reduction in heat loss from the wall, with a comparable reduction in total cost. For a one tank system (or thermocline system), a parametric computational fluid dynamic (CFD) study was performed in order to obtain fluid flow parameters that govern the formation and maintenance of a thermocline in a spherical tank. The parametric study involved the following dimensionless numbers: Re (500-7500), Ar (0.5-10), Fr (0.5-3), and Ri (1-100). The results showed that within the examined range of flow characteristics, the inlet Fr number is the most influential parameter in spherical tank thermocline formation and maintenance, and the largest tank thermal efficiency in a spherical tank is achieved at Fr = 0.5. Experimental results were obtained to validate the CFD model used in the parametric study. For the flow parameters within the current model, the use of an eddy viscosity turbulence model with variable turbulence intensity delivered the best agreement with experimental results. Overall, the experimental study using a spherical one tank setup validated the results of the CFD model with acceptable accuracy.


Worcester Polytechnic Institute

Degree Name



Mechanical Engineering

Project Type


Date Accepted





Sensible Heat Storage, Concentrated Solar Power, Thermal Energy Storage, Desalination