Mobilized Thermal Energy Storage for Heat Recovery for Distributed Heating

University dissertation from Västerås : Mälardalen University

Abstract: Conventional energy sources—oil and electricity—dominate the heat supply market. Due to their rising costs and their negative environmental effects on global climate change, it is necessary to develop an alternative heat supply system featuring low cost, high energy efficiency and environment friendliness. At present, it is often challenging to supply heat to detached buildings due to low energy efficiency and high distribution cost. Meanwhile, significant amounts of industrial waste and excess heat are released into the environment without recycling due to the difficulty of matching time and space differences between suppliers and end users. Phase change materials (PCMs), with the advantages of being storable and transportable, offer a solution for delivering that excess heat from industrial plants to detached buildings in sparse, rural areas. The objective of this thesis is to study PCMs and latent thermal energy storage (LTES) technology, and to develop a mobilized thermal energy storage (M-TES) system that can use industrial waste or excess heat for heat recovery and distribution to areas in need. Organic PCMs were chosen for study because they are non-toxic and non-corrosive, and they exhibit no phase separation and little sub-cooling when compared to inorganic PCMs. Two major issues including leakage of liquid PCMs and low thermal conductivity. Polyethylene glycol (PEG) was chosen to help analyze the thermal behavior of organic PCMs and PEG-based form-stable composites. To overcome the issue of low thermal conductivity, modified aluminum nitride (AlN) powder was added to the composites. Increased thermal conductivity traded off decreased latent heat. The PEG/EG composite, prepared by mixing the melted PEG into an expanded graphite (EG) matrix showed good thermal performance due to its large enthalpy and high thermal conductivity. To make a systematic study of the M-TES system, a compact lab-scale system was designed and built. Characteristics of PCM were studied, and the performance of the direct-contact TES container was investigated. A case study using an M-TES system to deliver heat from a combined heat and power (CHP) plant to a small village was conducted. A technical and economic feasibility study was conducted for an integrated heat supply system using the M-TES system. In addition, the options for charging a TES container at a CHP plant were analyzed and compared from the viewpoints of power output, heat output and incomes.

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