New Technology for Storing Summer Heat To Use in Winter

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The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) is funding the project through the Longer Duration Energy Storage Demonstration program, part of the £1bn Net Zero Innovation Portfolio (NZIP).

Thermal energy storage – storing heat so it’s available when needed – has the potential to cut rocketing energy bills.

It also solves one of the main problems with renewable energy sources, known as intermittency: wind and solar power are dependent on the weather conditions. Thermal energy storage means excess energy generated at times when renewables are in abundance can be stored and released to make up future shortfalls.

The project, called Adsorb (Advanced Distributed Storage for grid Benefit), is aiming to demonstrate a modular system that could improve a building’s energy performance and reduce pressures on national energy systems. The system could be installed into new-build properties or retrofitted into existing properties.

The team will be evaluating two different types of advanced thermal energy storage technology, both of which are being pioneered by Loughborough University.

The first is Thermochemical Storage (TCS), which could provide storage for weeks – or even months – with zero heat lost. It works by drawing heat from a thermal source such as a heat pump, electrical heating element or solar thermal collector to dehydrate an active material, thereby ‘charging’ the thermal store. Once charged, the system can be cooled to ambient temperature and the energy stored. When required, moisture is reintroduced, which then releases the heat for use within the home.

The second technology is Phase Change Material (PCM). This has the potential to provide day-to-day storage of thermal energy at densities far greater than traditional technologies. The PCM system also employs a thermal source, this time to heat a chemical store to transition the solid material into its liquid form. The effect of this is to store latent heat for several days. The heat stored can be released to provide hot water or space heating simply by pumping lower temperature water through the system.

Combined with intelligent control systems, these technologies could significantly reduce consumer bills and tackle the problem of intermittency, boosting renewables and taking more carbon out of the UK’s energy supply.

The new funding will support a preliminary feasibility study, to assess the potential benefits of these technologies.

The Active Building Centre Research Programme will be working alongside Loughborough University, University of Sheffield, and Mixergy.

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