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Scientists at Argonne Develop New Kind of Thermal Battery

By District Energy posted 07-15-2020 09:49


PV Magazine


Thermal batteries are a relatively new technology that can provide an alternative energy solution in the form of heat storage. As the world’s energy consumption continues to increase, thermal batteries could become an integral part of a more sustainable future, providing a source of energy without an associated increase in fossil fuel use. This technology can help companies achieve operational savings by generating higher amounts of energy from the same sources, whether generated from renewable sources or fossil fuels. TESS allows users to capture and use what would otherwise be wasted heat from their energy-generating systems and processes, and use it to boost productivity and energy efficiency.

Originally designed for use in concentrating solar-thermal power facilities, TESS is significantly more efficient and flexible than other thermal batteries currently on the market. Researchers have previously tried to use phase-change materials to store heat, which cycle back and forth between liquid and solid as heat is added and removed. These materials, usually salts, are great at retaining heat, but typically take a long time to charge and release heat. TESS solves this problem by infusing the phase-change material in a porous and highly thermally conductive foam core, allowing the system to store and release heat quickly. TESS operates at nearly 95% efficiency.

TESS’s modularity and tunability allow it to be scaled up or down to meet the needs of many commercial applications, such as combined heat and power systems, power plants, heavy-duty trucks, building heating and cooling systems, or thermal desalination plants. Concentrating solar-thermal power plants may someday benefit from this new technology by capturing excess heat during the day to keep the power plant running through the night and on cloudy days.

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