Thermal energy storage with sensible heat in an air-alumina packed bed using axial flow, axial flow with layers and radial flow

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Montana State University - Bozeman, College of Engineering


Thermal behavior in a packed bed thermal energy storage (TES) system is studied experimentally. TES systems are a promising solution to integrate renewable energy sources such as solar energy. The performance of such systems can be affected by different variables such as storage material size/type, pressure, temperature, heat transfer fluid (HTF), storage type (sensible/latent heat), and flow rate. Although these variables have been studied in literature, the resulting thermal dispersion and heat losses to the environment have been considered in few studies. This thesis studies the thermal behavior of an air-alumina TES packed bed focusing on dispersion and heat losses to quantify the thermal performance. Reducing their effects can improve the thermocline and thus thermal efficiency. The research efforts in this work quantify these effects and provide two new methods to reduce thermal dispersion and increase exergetic efficiency. Three configurations were considered in the present study. In the first configuration, a traditional packed bed is used focusing on performance for multiple partial cycles. This configuration quantified the thermal performance and served as a basis to compare the results from the other configurations. Dispersion effects were found to accumulate before a steady state was achieved during cycling. In the second and third configurations, novel pipe injection techniques were used to charge/discharge the bed. First, the normal bed is divided into layers via inserting pipes along the bed's axial length, focusing on a full charge-discharge cycle. Results show that exergy efficiency increases with flow rate and number of layers. The thermocline improved and dispersion losses decreased with number of layers. Second, a perforated pipe to facilitate radial flow was inserted at the center of the bed along the axial length to heat the bed. Radial charging shows higher charging efficiency compared to normal axial charging. Pipe injection is a novel method and a promising technique that improves the thermal performance of a lab scale storage bed, especially the layering method. Radial injection warrants more investigation to quantify its performance in thermal cycles.




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