Abstract

To make a better thermal storage system that uses air as the heat transfer fluid flowing through a packed-bed of ceramic spheres (Al2O3) as thermal storage materials, the present work studied cases using multiple small-diameter thin tanks to replace a large-diameter big tank while keeping the same total volume and the same air flow rate. Performance analysis of thermal storage has been conducted for comparison and optimization. The long flow passage and faster flow velocity of air in the small-diameter tanks was found to significantly benefit thermal storage performance compared to that of a short big tank. It resulted in a longer duration of discharge of high temperature airflow, if the same operation time is applied to the two situations. The faster airflow enhances the heat transfer between air and thermal storage material, although it incurs larger pressure loss. Overall, the energy storage efficiency of using several thin tanks can be significantly better than that of using a big short tank if the height-diameter ratio in the multiple thin tanks is properly optimized. The optimization methodology and results are of great significance to the development of thermal storage systems that use air as heat transfer fluid and rocks or ceramic spheres as the packed-bed material for thermal storage.

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