Materiales avanzados con gradación de propiedades para mejorar la seguridad de los receptores solares

This project produced with the support of a 2022 Leonardo Grant for  researchers and Cultural Creators, BBVA Foundation aims to study the feasibility of using functionally graded materials (FGM) in the tubes of the solar receivers employed in renewable power plants. FGM in solar receivers intends to reduce the thermal stresses assuring its safe operation and in last instant increasing its thermal efficiency to advance in the development of solar tower power technologies. It is a multidisciplinary project that study together the manufacturing processes, and the theoretical and experimental properties of the FGM tubes made with different metals.

PI: María de los Reyes Rodríguez Sánchez

Coil-wound once through steam generator design for solar power tower plants (CoWoSol)

The main goal of the project is the design of a highly flexible and reliable steam generator for solar tower power (STP) plants through numerical simulations validated with experimental results. Current SPT plants have mostly been designed for base load operation and have long startup times running as base load plants. Therefore, issues will grow significatively for the next generation of SPTs if the same designs of high temperature equipment are used. The increased demand of high operational flexibility is due to the elevated penetration of low-cost variable renewable energies (PV and wind). If the STP plant flexibility rises, they could participate in the adjustment market of energy improving their returns. The proposed design consists of a coil-wound once-through steam generator, which presents a high flexibility and robustness due to its key features: i) the steam drum, which due to its thick-wall suffers from high thermal stress during fast transient responses, is removed improving the ramp rates, ii) the number of tube-to-tubesheet joints, highly susceptible of failure, can be significantly reduced, iii) the helical tubes enhance the heat transfer while their spring-like behavior provides high capacity to absorb thermal shocks.  

PIs: Pedro Ángel González Gómez & Domingo Santana Santana

TOPCSP: Towards Competitive, Reliable, Safe and Sustainable Concentrated Solar Power (CSP) Plants doctoral network

The ”Towards Competitive, Reliable, Safe and Sustainable Concentrated Solar Power (CSP) Plants” (TOPCSP) doctoral network offers a unique international, intersectoral and interdisciplinary research and innovation framework to 10 promising doctoral fellows. The research and training activities of TOPCSP will boost the fellows’ excellence in the development of innovative technologies and so that they will be capable of solving the challenges that currently face the solar thermal power industry. CSP plants with thermal storage are capable of providing dispatchable power to the grid or controlled process heat and, hence, constitute a key technology for the word’s transition to a renewable & carbon-free energy generation system.

PI: Celia Sobrino Fernández

Highly reliable thermomechanical designs for flexible solar power towers (ReFlexSPT)

The aim of this project is to develop failure-free designs of the receiver, the steam generator and the injection in the molten salt tank, which will also allow these systems to operate with a greater response speed, thus making the technology of solar power towers more compretitive. By means of advanced experiments (combining thermography and DIC) and numerical simulations (CFD-FEM), the project will study: (i) the use of functional materials in the receiver that lead to a reduction of corrosion and thermal stresses with higher incident peak powers; (ii) novel designs for a highly reliable and quick response steam generator with header and coil configuration, and a safe and highly-flexible steam generator with coil-wound once through configuration featuring a single pass for preheating and evaporation and for superheating and reheating; (iii) the coupling between the injection of salts in the tank through the sparge ring and the thermomechanical response of  the tank to reduce the risk of molten salt leaks at the bottom of the hot tank.

PIs: Antonio Acosta Iborra & Domingo Santana Santana

Nanostructured sputtered coatings to increase the efficiency of a novel solar particle receiver (NANOSOLREC)

The present project proposal intends to analyze the synergies between a new particle solar receiver design and some improvements from sputtered nanostructured spectrally selective coatings on critical elements of the receiver. The concept of the proposed new receiver consists of a series of panels, analogous to traditional tower-like exterior receivers, with the particularity that each of the panels is a fluidized bed, rather than a set of tubes.  Besides, magnetron sputter deposition will be used to grow a nanostructured spectrally selective multilayers coating. The coating will enhance thermo-optical properties of the elements of the system that captures and transfer solar radiation.

PIs: Eduardo Salas Colera & Fernando Hernández Jiménez

Integration of solar heat for heavy industry processes to mitigate CO2 emissions (SHHIP-CO2)

The objective of this project is to study new solar receivers to improve the penetration of solar energy in heavy industry applications. This project will develop solar receivers for drying and heating the particles employed in the production of asphalt and in the processing of gypsum from natural sources. The processes considered in both industries require high energy at high temperatures (T > 150ºC) to dry and heat particles, which are currently thermally processed in gas-fired rotary kilns. This is due to the initial water content of both asphalt and gypsum particles (5 – 8%, respectively), which can be distributed on the particles surface or inside them, making difficult to dry them. The environmental load of both industries is marked by the low moisture content at the outlet (0%), the high mass flow rates, and the high temperatures needed. In this regard, asphalt industry consumes 85 kWh/ton and emits 18 kg CO2/ton of asphalt produced, in which a 97% of total energy is consumed on drying and heating of asphalt particles. The rotary kiln used in gypsum industry for drying and heating consumes 375 kWh/ton and emits 44 kg CO2/ton. As can be seen, the impact of the solar integration to reduce the carbon footprint and the dependence on fossil fuels in both heavy industries is high.

PI1: Jesús Gómez Herández

PI2: Javier Villa Briongos


Increasing penetration of wind energy through the management of combined cycle plants with pressurized water storage

The aim of the project is to design and optimize a steam accumulator and concrete block storage system (SACSS) to recover part of the energy lost during fast startups of combined cycles. The steam accumulators are integrated with sensible-heat storage in concrete to provide high-temperature superheated steam during the discharge. The proposed system provides a higher efficiency and larger flexibility for the steam turbine operation at part-load conditions compared to storage systems based only on saturated steam accumulators. In addition to the electricity production, the SACSS can be used to preheat the heat recovery steam generator reducing the thermal stress and the fatigue damage during fast startups.

PI: Pedro Ángel González Gómez


The aim of the project is to analyze whether solar tower plants can replace combined cycles in the coming years in order to reduce the CO2 emissions and dependence on natural gas. It is a multidisciplinary project focused in two main fields: electric grid system interaction and technology performance and reliability. Regarding the first field, the goal is to determine the impact of the replacement of the combined cycles in the Spanish grid electric system. With regard to the second discipline, the objective is to calculate the level of reliability (mean time to failure, forced outage periods, etc) and the operating cost increase of solar tower plants operating like combined cycles.

PI: Pedro Ángel González Gómez


The main objective of this multidisciplinary project is to avoid the early rupture of solar central receivers, due to the combined action of high thermal gradients, stresses and corrosion produced by high non-homogeneous incident radiation fluxes. The most effective way to reduce stress and improve operational safety without reducing plant efficiency is to reduce thermal gradients in both radial and circumferential directions. For this purpose, the RETOrenovable-CM-UC3M project proposes to study the feasibility of new receiver designs made up of tubes of different geometries and asymmetrical properties (functionally graded materials, FGM). Optimization of these designs requires a combination of analysis of the heat transfer and the elasticity and strength of materials. Besides, new strategies of operation would be proposed to reduce fatigue and creep damage, shedding light on the biggest challenge associated with the receivers: finding a compromise between efficiency and safety, lifetime and cost.

PI: María de los Reyes Rodríguez Sánchez

Optimal design of the sensible heat storage system of a central receiver solar power plant operating with gas cycles (STORESOL)

The project intends to optimize the thermal energy storage (TES) system of Concentrated Solar Power (CSP) plants. A detailed analysis of the performance of a novel TES system design of sensible heat based on granular material will be done experimentally and numerically. Several configurations of the granular material of the TES system will be studied including the fixed bed configuration, the operation as a fluidized bed, and the performance of a novel design of confined granular material. The novel design will maximise the exergy available of the working fluid beyond its  urrent operation limits. The ultimate aim is to increase the global performance of CSP plants.

The project is funded by AEI: PID2019-109224RA-I00/AEI/10.13039/501100011033.

PI: Fernando Hernández Jiménez & Antonio Soria Verdugo

Safe operation of solar tubular receivers by means of inverse thermo-elasticity methods (SOSreceiver)

The main goal of the project is to improve the performance and safety of solar tubular receivers by determining the thermal stress and the incident solar radiation flux over the receiver tubes through appropriate inverse thermoelasticity methods. These methods will employ, as inputs, several mechanical and thermal measurements (like the tube displacement and temperature) taken at the accessible shadow surface of the tube. This combined heat transfer and linear elasticity analysis of the receiver tubes constitutes a novel multidisciplinary inverse problem.

PI: Domingo Santana & Antonio Acosta Iborra


A multidisciplinary project with the aim of developing and validate a new technique based on geometric optics and computer vision techniques to determine, in a reasonable time and with precision, alignment errors in heliostats to improve the efficiency of concentrating solar power tower plants.

PI: Alberto Sánchez González


ACES2030: Concentrated Solar Thermal energy in the transport sector and in the production of heat and electricity

The R&D program ACES2030 on concentrating solar thermal power assumes that new priorities for CSP and relies on important outcomes obtained during the previous programmes SOLGEMAC, S2009/ENE-1617 and ALCCONES, S2013-MAE-2985.

The collaborative functional structure of the programme reinforces the synergy between existing facilities and laboratories on CSP at Comunidad de Madrid and to serve as an R&D hub for industry, with the ambition to become the seed of a future large scale singular facility at CM. This infrastructure consists of several unique experimental on-sun fields of heliostats, parabolic dish and Fresnel concentrator, as well as high flux solar simulators, located in Madrid, Móstoles, Getafe and Leganés.


HORATSO is presented as a clear multidisciplinary project, framed within the line of action “Stimulus to research of young doctors” of the Multi-year Agreement, directly linked to V-PRICIT in the “Attraction and retention of talent in the community of Madrid” and in “Support for the development of R + D + i projects” favoring the creation and consolidation of multidisciplinary groups.
It presents a technological solution for the storage of solar thermal energy, based on a new concept of eco-sustainable concrete. The new mortars and concretes to be manufactured present a clear novelty with respect to the existing materials. Portland cement is the building material par excellence due to its wide acceptance as a binder. The development of alternative cements obtained through processes that involve lower emissions of polluting gases into the atmosphere and energy savings, constitutes a priority line of research of great interest worldwide. Among these alternative materials are those that come from the alkaline activation of industrial by-products such as blast furnace slag and / or fly ash. These cements and concretes are obtained by mixing these products.
The new concrete concept will be used in different solar storage systems at different temperatures. In low-temperature applications (civil architecture), functional facades will be built, in which the exterior facade has ducts embedded in the concrete to capture solar radiation and store thermal energy, for later use as direct consumption or heating or to generate cold in absorption machines. In high temperature applications (thermosolar energy), it will be used as a solid storage medium for the solar energy transported by the HTFs from the solar field, increasing the capacity factor of the plant itself.

PI: Sergio Sánchez Delgado

List of projects


Aumento de la penetración de energía eólica a través de la gestión de centrales de ciclo combinado con almacenamiento de agua presurizada.
Funding entity: Fundación Iberdrola España: 01/09/2020 – 01/09/2021. Principal Researcher: Pedro Ángel González Gómez.

Operación segura de receptores tubulares mediante métodos de análisis inverso termo-elástico (SOSreceiver).
Funding entity: Ministerio de Ciencia, Innovación y Universidades (Spanish Ministry of Science, Innovation and Universities) – FEDER/EU (RTI2018-096664-B-C21): 01/01/2019 – 31/12/2021. Responsible researchers: Domingo Santana Santana y Antonio Acosta Iborra.

Evaluación de dispositivo “Ecogasplus” en calderas
Funding entity: Optimiza Recursos S.L.: 9/10/2019-8/04/2020. Responsible researcher: S. Sánchez-Delgado and C. Marugán-Cruz

Informe técnico sobre conductividad térmica de productos de lana de vidrio.
Funding entity: Creara Consultores S.L.: 11/06/2019-11/07/2019. Responsible researcher: S. Sánchez-Delgado and J. Gómez-Hernández

Evaluación de proyectos I+D+i.
Funding entity: SGS International Certification Services, S.A.: 11/02/2019-10/02/2020. Responsible researcher: S. Sánchez-Delgado

Nuevos Conceptos de Hormigones Sostenibles para Almacenamiento de Energía Térmica Solar (HORATSO-CM-UC3M).
Funding entity: Comunidad Autónoma de Madrid – Universidad Carlos III de Madrid.: 1/01/2020-1/01/2022. Responsible researcher: S. Sánchez-Delgado and M.Torres-Carrasco

Estudio experimental del efecto del procedimiento de llenado de heat pipes en sus prestaciones.
Funding entity: Madrid Space Europe S.L.: 25/07/2019-24/07/2020. Responsible researcher: C. Sobrino-Fernández and F.J. Rodríguez-Rodríguez

Mejora del sistema de admisión de aire en la góndola de un aerogenerador.
Funding entity: Fundación Iberdrola España.: 01/09/2017-01/09/2018. Responsible researcher: C. Marugán-Cruz

Mejora de la eficiencia fotovoltaica por medio del diseño de un sistema óptimo de refrigeración.
Convocatoria de Ayudas a la Investigación en Energía y Medio Ambiente 2019. Fundación Iberdrola. 1 año


Desarrollo de técnicas de VISión por computador para el alineamiento de HELIOstatos (VISHELIO-CM-UC3M).
Funding entity: Comunidad de Madrid, Universidad Carlos III de Madrid: 1/1/2020 – 31/12/2021. Principal Researchers: J.C. Castillo and A. Sánchez-González.

Plan de contingencia para eliminar el gas natural del sistema eléctrico español: ¿Pueden las centrales termosolares sustituir a las centrales de ciclo combinado en los próximos años? (ZEROGASPAIN-CM-UC3M).
Funding entity: Consejería de Educación e Investigación de la Comunidad de Madrid y Universidad Carlos III de Madrid. Programa de apoyo a la realización de proyectos interdisciplinares de i+d para jóvenes investigadores/as de la universidad Carlos III de Madrid, 2016-22 (V-PRICIT): 1/1/2020 -31/12/21, Responsible researcher: P.A. González-Gómez y C. Ruiz.

Energía solar térmica de concentración en el sector del transporte y en la producción de calor y de electricidad (ACES2030-CM)
Entidad financiadora: Consejería de Educación e Investigación de la Comunidad de Madrid (P2018/EMT-4319): 1/1/2019- 31/12/2022. Investigador responsable: Domingo Santana Santana

Diseño y evaluación de un nuevo receptor solar exterior de tubos ovalados.
Entidad financiadora: Fundación Iberdrola España: 01/09/2018 – 01/09/2019. Investigador responsable: María de los Reyes Rodríguez Sánchez.

Optimización de centrales termosolares, análisis transitorio y diseño de receptores bayoneta excéntricos (ExTraSol)
Entidad financiadora: Ministerio de economía, industria y competitividad (ENE2015-69486-R): 01/01/2016 – 31/12/2018. Investigador responsable: Antonio Acosta Iborra y Domingo Santana Santana.

Análisis de tensiones y deformaciones en los receptores solares centrales.
Entidad financiadora: Fundación Iberdrola España: 01/09/2017 – 01/09/2018. Investigador responsable: María de los Reyes Rodríguez Sánchez.

Desarrollo de máquinas de refrigeración por absorción empleando microintercambiadores, membranas y nanopartículas para la sostenibilidad energética en la edificación
Entidad financiadora: Ministerio de Economía, Industria y Competitividad (DPI2017-83123-R): 01/01/2018 – 31/12/2020. Investigador responsable: María del Carmen Venegas Bernal y Mercedes de Vega Blázquez

Reactor de sales solares fundidas para hybridación solar-biomasa
Entidad financiadora: Ministerio de Economía Industria y Competitividad (ENE2014-54942-R), : 1/1/2015-hasta: 31/12/2017 Investigador responsable: Sergio Sánchez Delgado y Celia Sobrino Fernádez

Evaluación de Proyectos de I+D+i para EQA Certificados I+D+ i.
Entidad financiadora: EQA certificados I+D+i. 13/01/2014-31/12/2017 Investigador responsable: Sergio Sánchez Delgado

Evaluación de proyectos de investigación, desarrollo e innovación,
Entidad financiadora: AGENCIA DE CERTIFICACION EN INNOVACION ESPAÑOLA (ACIE): 31/1/2016-hasta: 30/1/2017 Investigador responsable: Sergio Sánchez Delgado

Pirólisis de lodos de depuradora en lecho fluido
Ayudas a la Investigación en Energía y Medio Ambiente 2015 (Fundación Iberdrola)
from 01/09/2015 to 01/09/2016

Dispersión lateral de lodos de depuradora en lecho fluido

Ayudas a la Investigación en Energía y Medio Ambiente 2016 (Fundación Iberdrola)
from 01/09/2016 to 01/09/2017

ABMIN: High-efficiency micro-sized absorption cooling chillers using membrane technology

Combination of the microporous membrane technology with absorption cooling systems technology is proposed in this project with the aim of reducing the size and increasing the energy efficiency of this refrigeration technology. The main objective of the project is to set up the scientific basis for the future development of micro-sized absorption cooling chillers employing microporous membrane technology, principally oriented to reducing the energy consumption of dwellings, buildings, cars, etc. due to the use of air-conditioning systems. The proposal allows the use of renewable energy sources, like solar thermal, or residual low temperature heat.

Research will be conducted at individual components level (including absorber and generator). It will cover modelling, simulation, design, construction and testing. Transient and steady state essays will be developed to fully investigate the thermal performance. Correlations of heat and mass transfer in the individual components will be obtained as a function of dimensionless parameters. These correlations are foreseen to be used for the design of micro-sized membrane-based absorption cooling chillers.

DIRECSOL: Estudio y Diseño de nuevos receptores solares. (ENE2012-34255)
Ministerio de Economía y Competitividad
from 01/01/2013 to 31/12/2015

Título del contrato/proyecto: Green Energy for Islands, GENERGIS (332028)
Entidad financiadora: Unión Europea (MC-IEF-332028, FP7)
Investigador responsable: F. Petrakopoulou, M. Loizidou

Molten Salt Receiver
Sun To Market Solution S.L (CDTI: Ministerio de Economía y Competitividad)
from 01/01/2012 to 31/12/2014

Título del contrato/proyecto: Producción de combustibles limpios para transporte de residuos agro/forestales y oleaginosos (RESTOENE)
Entidad financiadora: Comunidad de Madrid
01/01/2010 – 31/12/2013
Investigador responsable: D. Serrano

Título del contrato/proyecto: Advanced Electrolyser for Hydrogen Production with Renewable Energy Sources (ADEL, FCH-JU-2009-1)
Entidad financiadora: Unión Europea
01/01/2011 – 31/12/2013
Investigador responsable: M. Romero

Título del contrato/proyecto: Análisis de las rutas de obtención de biocarburantes de elevada densidad energética a partir de biomasa lignocelulósica via la síntesis de moléculas base (ASBIOPLAT)
Entidad financiadora: Ministerio de economía y competitividad
01/01/2012 – 31/12/2014
Investigador responsable: J. Dufour

Título del contrato/proyecto: Evaluation of Gasification Processes and their Improvement Potential
Entidad financiadora: Unión Europea (COFUND AMAROUT, FP7), IMDEA Energía
Investigador responsable: F. Petrakopoulou, J. Dufour

Título del contrato/proyecto: FOTOCON-CO2
Entidad financiadora: REPSOL
Investigador responsable: V. de la Peña, J. M. Coronado, J. Dufour

Segregacion y Transferencia de Calor en Lechos Aerovibrantes
Ministerio de Ciencia e Innovación DPI2009-10518
Universidad Carlos III de Madrid
from 01/01/2010 to 31/12/2012

Tecnologías para la gestión automatizada e inteligente de las redes de distribución energética del futuro (proyecto ENERGOS). Actividad turbinas de gas
CDTI. Ministerio de Industria. Diagnostiqa Consultoría Técnica S.L..CENIT 09
Universidad Carlos III de Madrid. Consorcio empresas-universidades
from 1/12/2009 to 31/12/2012

Investigación en Nuevos Conceptos de Carreteras más Seguras y Sostenibles (Proyecto Fenix)
CDTI. Ministerio de Industria. Agrupación estratégica proyecto FÉNIX. CENIT 07
Consorcio empresas-universidades (Coordinador: Sacyr)
from 01/01/2007 to 31/12/2010

Gasificación de Biomasa Mediante un Nuevo Diseño de Lecho Fluidizado de Distribuidor Espiral Rotatorio (SSD)
MEC. Dirección General de Investigación ENE2006-01401/ALT
Universidad Carlos III de Madrid
from 01/10/2006 to 30/09/2009

Innovative Technology for Electric Energy (10 MWe) and Heat Production from Biomass and/or Wastes, Using an IPCC Plant – Integrated Pyrolysis Combined Cycle
MEC. Dirección General de Investigación ENE2004-22766-E
Universidad Carlos III de Madrid
from 01/04/2005 to 10/11/2006


CARDENER: biomass exploitation

Characterization of Cynara Cardunculus (cardoon), Ultimate and elemental analysis: CHNS. Proximate and thermogravimetric analysis. Ash fusibility analysis. Bomb calorimetry (HHV).
Air-Gasification of cardoon in a BFB gasifier. Influence of feed composition.
Optimisation of the operating conditions. Sampling and analysis of tars and particles from biomass producer gases. Monitoring, control and dynamic diagnosis. Comparison of Gasification and Combustion. Scale-up of the fluidized bed gasification process.
UPM, CSIC, Complutense University, CIEMAT, UC3M.
from 1/1/2010 to 31/12/2013

Thermal energy storage in a fluidized bed with micro-phase change materials

Develop a new system for storage of low-temperature solar thermal energy. Construction of a lab-scale prototype. Modeling of heat transfer in fluidized beds with phase change materials. Determine the economical and energy viability of the new system compared with conventional storage systems.
Junta Castilla la Mancha (PPIC10-0055-4054)
from 1/1/2010 to 31/12/2013


Eliminación de alquitranes (tars) y captura de CO2 de los gases procedentes de procesos de gasificación (ETCO2)

Comunidad de Madrid-Universidad Carlos III de Madrid : CCG07-UC3M/AMB-4227
Universidad Carlos III de Madrid
from 01/01/2009 to 31/12/2009


Tar removal from gaseous effluents produced during gasification. Tars removal by ultra-thin liquid films. Transfer processes in expanding liquid sheets.
Comunidad de Madrid-Universidad Carlos III de Madrid : CCG07-UC3M/AMB-3412
Universidad Carlos III de Madrid
01/01/2008 to 31/12/2008

CP08-BIOLAB: Laboratorio de ensayo de combustibles procedentes de la biomasa

Comunicad de Madrid
Universidad Carlos III de Madrid
from 01/01/2008 to 31/12/2008

Medida de Tars y Partículas en un Gasificador de Biomasa de Nuevo Diseño de Distribuidor Rotatorio

Comunidad de Madrid-Universidad Carlos III de Madrid CCG06-UC3M/ENE-0764
Universidad Carlos III de Madrid
from 01/01/2007 to 31/12/2007

CP07-BIOLAB: Laboratorio de ensayo de combustibles procedentes de la biomasa

Comunicad de Madrid
Universidad Carlos III de Madrid
from 01/01/2007 to 31/12/2007