Thermal energy storage has been an area of research interest due to the need to store solar energy or excess energy for later use in many applications including district heating. The focus of a lot of research is on exotic and expensive storage media. This paper presents an experimental study of thermal energy storage using porous media readily available and commonly found in nature such as sand, soil, pebble rocks and gravel. This study also considers a simple and inexpensive thermal storage system which could be constructed easily and examines what could be done to increase the thermal storage performance. The thermal storage system examined in the present study was a thermal energy storage unit with embedded horizontal pipes carrying water as the heat transfer fluid for thermal charging. Different thermal storage configurations were examined by adjusting the thermal charging temperature and using different storage media. The temperature distribution within the storage media was monitored for 10 hours using a data acquisition system with K-type thermocouples. The results indicate that a thermal storage system using sand as storage media is slightly better compared with gravel or pebble rocks as storage media.

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