Thermal energy storage (TES) systems that store sensible heat in liquid media require the use of storage tanks. Spherical tanks require less building material and insulation, which might reduce the overall cost of a TES system while providing structural rigidity. The current study investigates an optimized plate diffuser in a thermocline spherical tank storage system to possibly increase the discharge flow rate without disrupting the thermocline region and without reducing the tank thermal efficiency. For low temperature (10–90 °C heat storage applications), such as heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) and thermal water desalination, storing hot water in a thermocline system can increase the system thermal efficiency by up to 40% when compared to a fully mixed water tank and reduce the installation cost by 30% compared to a two-tank system. This study examines using a spherical tank in a thermocline system for such applications. A computational fluid dynamic (CFD) study simulated the discharge process from a spherical storage tank thermocline water system. Thermocline thickness and temperature profile in the tank were numerically determined for Reynolds number, Re = 600 and Froude number, Fr = 1.2; results were then experimentally validated. A CFD parametric study with (500 < Re < 7500) and (0.5 < Fr < 3.3): (i) determined the influence of tank flow dimensionless numbers (Reynolds, Froude, Richardson, and Archimedes) on thermal efficiency and thermocline thickness, (ii) produced an equation to predict the tank thermal efficiency using flow dimensionless numbers, and (iii) estimated the thermocline region volume occupation as a percentage of the total volume. The study of an optimized plate diffuser produced an equation for thermal efficiency based on Re and Fr numbers and estimated a thermocline volume equal to 15% of total tank volume. Flow rate ramp up by a factor of 3 was possible after the thermocline region was formed without losing tank thermal efficiency.
Plate Diffuser Performance in Spherical Tank Thermocline Storage System
Contributed by the Advanced Energy Systems Division of ASME for publication in the JOURNAL OF ENERGY RESOURCES TECHNOLOGY. Manuscript received February 15, 2016; final manuscript received April 23, 2016; published online May 25, 2016. Assoc. Editor: Mohamed A. Habib.
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Khan, F., and Savilonis, B. J. (May 25, 2016). "Plate Diffuser Performance in Spherical Tank Thermocline Storage System." ASME. J. Energy Resour. Technol. September 2016; 138(5): 052006. https://doi.org/10.1115/1.4033503
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