This paper describes the development of a facility for evaluating the performance of small-scale particle-to-sCO2 heat exchangers, which includes an isobaric sCO2 flow loop and an electrically heated particle flow loop. The particle flow loop is capable of delivering up to 60 kW of heat at a temperature of 600 °C and flow rate of 0.4 kg/s. The loop was developed to facilitate long duration off-sun testing of small prototype heat exchangers to produce model validation data at steady-state operating conditions. Lessons learned on instrumentation, control, and system integration from prior testing of larger heat exchangers with solar thermal input were used to guide the design of the test facility. In addition, the development and testing of a novel 20-kWt moving packed-bed particle-to-sCO2 heat exchanger using the integrated flow loops is reported. The prototype heat exchanger implements many novel features for increasing thermal performance and reducing pressure drop which include integral porting of the sCO2 flow, unique bond/braze manufacturing, narrow plate spacing, and pure counter-flow arrangement. The experimental data collected for the prototype heat exchanger was compared to model predictions to verify the sizing, thermal performance, and pressure drop which will be extended to multi-megawatt heat exchanger designs in the future.

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