This study explores the behavior of a flat-slab, sensible heat thermal energy storage system, the physical design and operation of which have been optimized to minimize the production of entropy by thermodynamic irreversibilities. Unlike many previous studies, the present work includes the entropy production by transient heat conduction within the storage element; that is, the analytical model is based on a distributed, as opposed to a lumped, storage element. The work is presented in two parts. The development of the analytical model required to compute the figure of merit, which is called the entropy generation number, in terms of the design and operational parameters of the system is presented in Part I. In Part II, the numerical solution of the analytical model is discussed and the results of an optimization study are presented and interpreted.

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