Thermal Energy Storage  



“Thermal energy storage (TES) is like a battery and can be achieved through different technologies depending on the wide range of needs.

Basically, it allows excess thermal energy to be collected for later use, hours, days or many months later, at individual building, multiuser building, district, town, or even regional scale depending on the specific technology. As examples: energy demand can be balanced between daytime and nighttime; summer heat from solar collectors can be stored interseasonally for use in winter; and cold obtained from winter air can be provided for summer air conditioning. Storage media include: water or ice-slush tanks ranging from small to massive, masses of native earth or bedrock accessed with heat exchangers in clusters of small-diameter boreholes (sometimes quite deep); deep aquifers contained between impermeable strata; shallow, lined pits filled with gravel and water and top-insulated; and eutectic, phase-change materials.

Other sources of thermal energy for storage include heat or cold produced with heat pumps from off-peak, lower cost electric power, a practice called peak shaving; heat from combined heat and power (CHP) power plants; heat produced by renewable electrical energy that exceeds grid demand and waste heat from industrial processes. Heat storage, both seasonal and short term, is considered an important means for cheaply balancing high shares of variable renewable electricity production and integration of electricity and heating sectors in energy systems almost or completely fed by renewable energy.[1-3]

Some of the different TES technologies include:


Solar energy storage

Most practical active solar heating systems provide storage from a few hours to a day's worth of energy collected. However, there are a growing number of facilities that use seasonal thermal energy storage (STES), enabling solar energy to be stored in summer for space heating use during winter.[4][5][6] The Drake Landing Solar Community in Alberta, Canada, has now achieved a year-round 97% solar heating fraction, a world record made possible only by incorporating STES.[4][7]

The use of both latent heat and sensible heat are also possible with high temperature solar thermal input. Various eutectic mixtures of metals, such as Aluminium and Silicon (AlSi12) offer a high melting point suited to efficient steam generation,[8] while high alumina cement-based materials offer good thermal storage capabilities.[9]

Molten salt is a means of storing heat at a high temperature. This is a current commercial technology used in conjunction with concentrated solar power for later use in electricity generation, to allow solar power to provide electricity on a more continuous basis. These molten salts (potassium nitrate, calcium nitrate, sodium nitrate, lithium nitrate, etc.) have the property to absorb and store the heat energy that is released to the water, to transfer energy when needed. To improve the salt properties it must be mixed in a eutectic mixture.


Molten salt technology

Molten salt can be employed as a thermal energy storage method to retain thermal energy collected by a solar tower or solar trough of a concentrated solar power plant, so that it can be used to generate electricity in bad weather or at night. It was demonstrated in the Solar Two project from 1995-1999. The system is predicted to have an annual efficiency of 99%, a reference to the energy retained by storing heat before turning it into electricity, versus converting heat directly into electricity.[10][11][12] The molten salt mixtures vary. The most extended mixture contains sodium nitrate, potassium nitrate and calcium nitrate. It has already been used in the chemical and metals industries as a heat-transport fluid, so experience with such systems exists in non-solar applications.

The salt melts at 131 °C (268 °F). It is kept liquid at 288 °C (550 °F) in an insulated "cold" storage tank. The liquid salt is pumped through panels in a solar collector where the focused sun heats it to 566 °C (1,051 °F). It is then sent to a hot storage tank. With proper insulation of the tank the thermal energy can be usefully stored for up to a week.[13]

When electricity is needed, the hot salt is pumped to a conventional steam-generator to produce superheated steam for a conventional turbine/generator set as used in any coal, oil, or nuclear power plant. A 100-megawatt turbine would need a tank of about 9.1 metres (30 ft) tall and 24 metres (79 ft) in diameter to drive it for four hours by this design.

Several parabolic trough power plants in Spain[14] and solar power tower developer SolarReserve use this thermal energy storage concept. The Solana Generating Station in the U.S. can store 6 hours worth of generating capacity in molten salt. During the summer of 2013 the Gemasolar Thermosolar solar power tower/molten salt plant in Spain achieved a first by continuously producing electricity 24 hours per day for 36 days.[15]


Heat storage in tanks or rock caverns

A steam accumulator consists of an insulated steel pressure tank containing hot water and steam under pressure. As a heat storage device, it is used to mediate heat production by a variable or steady source from a variable demand for heat. Steam accumulators may take on a significance for energy storage in solar thermal energy projects.

Large stores are widely used in Scandinavia to store heat for several days, to decouple heat and power production and to help meet peak demands. Interseasonal storage in caverns has been investigated and appears to be economical.[16]


Heat storage in hot rocks, concrete, pebbles, etc

Water has one of the highest thermal capacities Heat capacity - 4.2 J/(cm³·K) whereas concrete has about one third of that. On the other hand, concrete can be heated to much higher temperatures – 1200 °C by e.g. electrical heating and therefore has a much higher overall volumetric capacity. Thus in the example below, an insulated cube of about 2.8 m would appear to provide sufficient storage for a single house to meet 50% of heating demand. This could, in principle, be used to store surplus wind or PV heat due to the ability of electrical heating to reach high temperatures. At the neighborhood level, the Wiggenhausen-Süd solar development at Friedrichshafen has received international attention. This features a 12,000 m³ (420,000 cu ft) reinforced concrete thermal store linked to 4,300 m² (46,000 sq ft) of solar collectors, which will supply the 570 houses with around 50% of their heating and hot water. Siemens builds a 36 MWh thermal storage near Hamburg with 600 °C basalt and 1.5 MW electric output.[17] A similar system is scheduled for Sorø, Denmark, with 41-58% of the stored 18 MWh heat returned for the town's district heating, and 30-41% returned as electricity.[18]


Electric thermal storage heaters

Storage heaters are commonplace in European homes with time of use metering. They consist of high-density ceramic bricks or feolite blocks heated to a high temperature with electricity, and may or may not have good insulation and controls to release heat over a number of hours.[22]


Ice-based technology

Air conditioning can be provided more economically by using cheaper electricity at night to freeze water into ice, then using the cool of the ice in the afternoon to reduce the electricity needed to handle air conditioning demands. Thermal energy storage using ice makes use of the large heat of fusion of water. One metric ton of water, one cubic meter, can store 334 million joules (MJ) or 317,000 BTUs (93kWh or 26.4 ton-hours). In fact, ice was originally transported from mountains to cities for use as a coolant, and the original definition of a "ton" of cooling capacity (heat flow) was the heat to melt one ton of ice every 24 hours. This is the heat flow one would expect in a 3,000-square-foot (280 m2) house in Boston in the summer. This definition has since been replaced by less archaic units: one ton HVAC capacity = 12,000 BTU/hour (~3.5 kW). Either way, an agreeably small storage facility can hold enough ice to cool a large building for a day or a week, whether that ice is produced by anhydrous ammonia chillers or hauled in by horse-drawn carts.

As such there are developing and developed applications where ice is produced during off-peak periods and used for cooling at later time.

In addition to using ice in cooling applications it is also being used in heat pump based heating systems. In these applications the phase change energy provides a very significant layer of thermal capacity that is near the bottom range of temperature that water source heat pumps can operate in. This allows the system to ride out the heaviest heating load conditions and extends the timeframe by which the source energy elements can contribute heat back into the system.


Cryogenic energy storage

This uses liquification of air or nitrogen as an energy store.

A pilot cryogenic energy system that uses liquid air as the energy store, and low-grade waste heat to drive the thermal re-expansion of the air, has been operating at a power station in Slough, UK since 2010.[23]


Hot silicon technology

Solid or molten silicon offers much higher storage temperatures than salts with consequent greater capacity and efficiency. It is being researched as a possible more energy efficient storage technology. Silicon is able to store more than 1MWh of energy per cubic metre at 1400 °C.[24][25]


Pumped-heat electricity storage

In pumped-heat electricity storage (PHES), a reversible heat-pump system is used to store energy as a temperature difference between two heat stores.[26][27][28]



One system which was being developed by the now bankrupt UK company Isentropic operates as follows.[29] It comprises two insulated containers filled with crushed rock or gravel; a hot vessel storing thermal energy at high temperature and high pressure, and a cold vessel storing thermal energy at low temperature and low pressure. The vessels are connected at top and bottom by pipes and the whole system is filled with the inert gas argon.

During the charging cycle the system uses off-peak electricity to work as a heat pump. Argon at ambient temperature and pressure from the top of the cold store is compressed adiabatically to a pressure of 12 bar, heating it to around 500 °C (900 °F). The compressed gas is transferred to the top of the hot vessel where it percolates down through the gravel, transferring its heat to the rock and cooling to ambient temperature. The cooled, but still pressurized, gas emerging at the bottom of the vessel is then expanded (again adiabatically) back down to 1 bar, which lowers its temperature to -150 °C. The cold gas is then passed up through the cold vessel where it cools the rock while being warmed back to its initial condition.

The energy is recovered as electricity by reversing the cycle. The hot gas from the hot vessel is expanded to drive a generator and then supplied to the cold store. The cooled gas retrieved from the bottom of the cold store is compressed which heats the gas to ambient temperature. The gas is then transferred to the bottom of the hot vessel to be reheated.

The compression and expansion processes are provided by a specially designed reciprocating machine using sliding valves. Surplus heat generated by inefficiencies in the process is shed to the environment through heat exchangers during the discharging cycle.[26][29]

The developer claims that a round trip efficiency of 72-80% is achievable.[26][29] This compares to >80% achievable with pumped hydro energy storage.[27]

Another proposed system uses turbomachinery and is capable of operating at much higher power levels.[28]


Endothermic/exothermic chemical reaction

The system works by storing heat in a container containing 50 percent sodium hydroxide (NaOH) solution. Heat is stored by heating the solution, using a solar collector on a rooftop or any other hear source, and evaporating the water in an endothermic reaction. When water is added again heat is released in an exothermic reaction at 50 °C (120 °F). Current systems operate at 60% efficiency. Energy stored in such a matter can last from a few months to years. The solution can also be transported to other location.[30]

In 2013 the Dutch technology developer TNO launched the results of a project to store heat in a salt container. The heat, which can be derived from a solar collector on a rooftop, expels the water contained in the salt. When the water is added again, the heat is released, with almost no energy losses. A container with a few cubic meters of salt could store enough of this thermochemical energy to heat a house throughout the winter, in a temperate climate like that of the Netherlands. Currently researchers in several countries are conducting experiments to determine the best type of salt, or salt mixture. Low pressure within the container seems favourable for the energy transport.[31]

Storing energy in molecular bonds is being investigated. Energy densities equivalent to lithium-ion batteries have been achieved.”[2, 32]




  1.  Jacobson, Mark Z.; Delucchi, Mark A.; Cameron, Mary A.; Frew, Bethany A. (2015). "Low-cost solution to the grid reliability problem with 100% penetration of intermittent wind, water, and solar for all purposes". Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 112 (49): 150605. 

Bibcode:2015PNAS..11215060Jdoi:10.1073/pnas.1510028112PMC 4679003PMID 26598655.

  1. Themal Energy Storage;
  2. Mathiesen, B.V.; Lund, H.; Connolly, D.; Wenzel, H.; Østergaard, P.A.; Möller, B.; Nielsen, S.; Ridjan, I.; Karnøe, P.; Sperling, K.; Hvelplund, F.K. (2015). "Smart Energy Systems for coherent 100% renewable energy and transport solutions". Applied Energy. 145: 139–54. doi:10.1016/j.apenergy.2015.01.075.
  3. Henning, Hans-Martin; Palzer, Andreas (2014). "A comprehensive model for the German electricity and heat sector in a future energy system with a dominant contribution from renewable energy technologies—Part I: Methodology". Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews. 30: 1003–18. doi:10.1016/j.rser.2013.09.012.
  4. Wong B. (2011). Drake Landing Solar Community. Presentation at IDEA/CDEA District Energy/CHP 2011 Conference. Toronto, June 26–29, 2011.
  5. SunStor-4 Project, Marstal, Denmark. The solar district heating system, which has an interseasonal pit storage, is being expanded.
  6. "Thermal Energy Storage in ThermalBanks". ICAX Ltd, London. Retrieved 2011-11-21.
  7. "Canadian Solar Community Sets New World Record for Energy Efficiency and Innovation" (Press release). Natural Resources Canada. October 5, 2012. Retrieved January 11, 2017.
  8. Khare, Sameer; Dell'Amico, Mark; Knight, Chris; McGarry, Scott (2012). "Selection of materials for high temperature latent heat energy storage". Solar Energy Materials and Solar Cells. 107: 20–7. doi:10.1016/j.solmat.2012.07.020.
  9. Khare, S.; Dell'Amico, M.; Knight, C.; McGarry, S. (2013). "Selection of materials for high temperature sensible energy storage". Solar Energy Materials and Solar Cells. 115: 114–22. doi:10.1016/j.solmat.2013.03.009.
  10. Mancini, Tom (10 January 2006). "Advantages of Using Molten Salt". Sandia National Laboratories. Archived from the original on 2011-07-14. Retrieved 2011-07-14.
  11. Jones, B. G.; Roy, R. P.; Bohl, R. W. (1977). "Molten salt energy storage system - A feasibility study". Heat transfer in energy conservation; Proceedings of the Winter Annual Meeting: 39–45. Bibcode:1977htec.proc...39J.
  12. Biello, David (February 18, 2009). "How to Use Solar Energy at Night". Scientific American.
  13. Ehrlich, Robert (2013). "Thermal storage". Renewable Energy: A First Course. CRC Press. p. 375. ISBN 978-1-4398-6115-8.
  14. Parabolic Trough Thermal Energy Storage Technology Parabolic Trough Solar Power Network. April 04, 2007. Accessed December 2007
  16. Gebremedhin, Alemayehu; Zinko, Heimo. "Seasonal heat storages in district heating systems" (PDF). Linköping, Sweden: Linköping University.
  17. "Siemens project to test heated rocks for large-scale, low-cost thermal energy storage". Utility Dive. 12 October 2016. Retrieved 15 October 2016.
  18. "Nyt energilager skal opsamle grøn energi i varme sten"Ingeniøren. Retrieved 26 November 2016.
  19. Rawson, Anthony; Kisi, Erich; Sugo, Heber; Fiedler, Thomas (2014-10-01). "Effective conductivity of Cu–Fe and Sn–Al miscibility gap alloys". International Journal of Heat and Mass Transfer. 77: 395–405. doi:10.1016/j.ijheatmasstransfer.2014.05.024.
  20. Sugo, Heber; Kisi, Erich; Cuskelly, Dylan (2013-03-01). "Miscibility gap alloys with inverse microstructures and high thermal conductivity for high energy density thermal storage applications". Applied Thermal Engineering. 51 (1–2): 1345–1350. doi:10.1016/j.applthermaleng.2012.11.029.
  21. "Thermal capacitors made from Miscibility Gap Alloys (MGAs) (PDF Download Available)". ResearchGate. Retrieved 2017-02-27.
  23. Roger Harrabin, BBC Environment analyst (2 October 2012). "Liquid air 'offers energy storage hope'". BBC News, Science and Environment. BBC. Retrieved 2012-10-02.
  24. "Molten silicon used for thermal energy storage". The Engineer. Retrieved 2016-11-02.
  25. "Energy storage system based on silicon from sand". Retrieved 2016-11-02.
  26. "Electricity storage: Pumping heat". The Economist. 2014-03-12. Retrieved 2014-06-19.
  28. Jacques Ruer; et al. "Pumped Heat Energy Storage" (PDF). Retrieved 2014-07-16.
  29. "Isentropic's PHES Technology". Retrieved 16 July 2014.
  30. Rainer, Klose. "Seasonal energy storage: Summer heat for the winter". Zurich, Switzerland: Empa.
  31. De Jong, Ard-Jan; Van Vliet, Laurens; Hoegaerts, Christophe; Roelands, Mark; Cuypers, Ruud (2016). "Thermochemical Heat Storage – from Reaction Storage Density to System Storage Density". Energy Procedia. 91: 128–37. doi:10.1016/j.egypro.2016.06.187.
  32. Kolpak, Alexie M.; Grossman, Jeffrey C. (2011). "Azobenzene-Functionalized Carbon Nanotubes As High-Energy Density Solar Thermal Fuels". Nano Letters. 11 (8): 3156–62. Bibcode:2011NanoL..11.3156Kdoi:10.1021/nl201357nPMID 21688811.



Posted : 25/04/2017 10:39 am

Please Login or Register