Advanced Concentrating Thermal Technologies for Power and Process Heat Generation

Prof. Robert Pitz-Paal
DLR, Institute of Solar Research, Cologne, Germany

By Prof. Dr.-Ing. Robert Pitz-Paal, DLR, Institute of Solar Research, Cologne, Germany.

Concentrating solar thermal technologies are in a phase of commercial implementation for about 10 years. Up to now parabolic trough systems using synthetic thermal oil as heat transfer medium and a molten salt heat storage system is the dominating technology in the market. In parallel smaller units to provide process heat in a decentralized markets are evolving. Solar tower technology using molten salt as heat transfer medium is currently emerging with the promise to reduce the cost for dispatchable power significantly. A variety of other new heat transfer fluids with different particular benefits have been developed in the past to enable further cost reductions. This range from new silicon based thermal, oil, direct steam generation, atmospheric air, advanced salt mixtures, liquid metals and ceramic particles.
The talk will introduce the different concepts and evaluate the maturity and potential for both centralized power production and decentralized process heat supply.


Univ.-Prof. Dr.-Ing. Robert Pitz-Paal has been one of two directors heading the Institute of Solar Research with about 150 members of staff since June 2011. His main research areas are the technical analysis and optimisation of concentrating solar power systems for generating electricity and producing fuel. A challenge he finds particularly exciting is that of coupled heat transfer problems involving radiation, convection, conduction and chemical reactions. He has published more than 200 papers, book chapters and conference contributions.

Born in Kleve in 1963, Pitz-Paal read Physics at the Ludwig-Maximilian University in Munich from 1983 until 1988. In 1993 he obtained a PhD from the Department of Mechanical Engineering at Ruhr Universität Bochum with a doctoral thesis on concentrating solar technology.

In the same year he was recruited by the German Aerospace Center in Cologne where he spent the following years working in various positions at the Energy Technology Division. In 2002, Pitz-Paal was appointed as head of Solar Research Division at the DLR Institute of Technical Thermodynamics in Stuttgart, and held the post of Deputy Director of the Institute from 2009 until he became director of the newly founded DLR Institute of Solar Research.

Since 2003 Pitz-Paal has been a professor for solar technology at RWTH Aachen. He also spent the summer semester of 2008 as a guest professor at the Institute of Energy Technology at ETH Zürich. His scientific publications won several awards from the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, ASME. His department was awarded Centre of Excellence status by the DLR Executive Board in 2006 and 2011 and 2014 in recognition of its work.

Pitz-Paal is vice chairman of the executive committee of the international network “Solar Power and Chemical Energy Systems” (SolarPACES) of the International Energy Agency He is also chairman of the CSP (=Concentrated Solar Power) working group of the European Academies of Science Advisory Council and is member of the board of the German association of the CSP Industry (DCSP).

He served as associate editor for the ASME Journal on Solar Energy Engineering and is actually associated editor of the Journal of Solar Energy.