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Compact and Flexible Thermal Storage



June 06, 2012 – Comments (5)

This is a very cool (well... hot) development! I continue to give props to the clever German engineers.


Compact and Flexible Thermal Storage

ScienceDaily (June 6, 2012) — Biogas plants, combined heat and power plants don't just generate electricity, they also produce heat. However, unlike the electricity they yield, the heat generally dissipates unused. A new technology is set to change this: It will allow the heat to be stored lossfree in the smallest of spaces for lengthy periods of time, for use as and when required.

There's a growing trend towards generating electricity from biogas. But these systems would be considerably more effective if better use could be made of the heat that is produced in the process. Roughly half of the total energy content of the fuel is released as heat, which typically dissipates into the atmosphere unused. Large quantities of heat likewise escape from combined heat and power plants, not to mention many industrial installations. The root of the problem lies in the fact that the heat is not generally used at the time it is generated -- and options for storing it are limited. Traditionally, water tanks have been used for this purpose, but they can only absorb a finite quantity of heat. And of course, the heat can only be stored for short periods of time, because although the water tanks are insulated, the water gradually loses its heat to the surrounding atmosphere.

Working together with industrial partners such as ZeoSys GmbH in Berlin, scientists from the Fraunhofer Institute for Interfacial Engineering and Biotechnology IGB in Stuttgart are currently developing a new type of thermal storage system. This new system can store three to four times the amount of heat that water can, so it only requires storage containers around a quarter the size of water tanks. Moreover, it is able to store the heat loss-free over lengthy periods of time and can even operate at temperatures well in excess of 100 degrees Celsius. The new system contains zeolite pellets, from the Greek zeō, meaning 'boil' and lithos, meaning 'stone'. Normally this material is used as an ion exchanger, for example to soften water.

.... [more in the middle and very interesting. I would really advise going to the original article and reading] ....

Ultimately, the goal is to be able to store heat both in industrial installations and in small combined heat and power plants such as those used in larger residential buildings. To start with, priority will be given to industrial applications. "It would be ideal if we were able to devise a modular system that would allow us to construct each storage device to suit the individual requirement," says Blicker. The Fraunhofer researchers will be using a model system to demonstrate the principles of sorptive thermal storage at ACHEMA 2012 in Frankfurt from June 18 through 22.

5 Comments – Post Your Own

#1) On June 06, 2012 at 11:44 AM, chk999 (99.96) wrote:

This is potentially very big. There hasn't been a way to store heat that didn't involve large amounts of thermal mass and a bunch of insulation and this made it not very cost effective. 

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#2) On June 06, 2012 at 11:59 AM, binve (< 20) wrote:

I completely agree. I am extremely excited by this. *Tons* of residential applications when they modularize the concept on a small scale (i.e. Solar collector on your rooftop to heat a water loop and these pellets sit in your tanks and then run a radiant floor heating loop all night long => huge reduction in heating bills). That would obviously be beneficial for new construction / renovations, but the same idea could be applied to wall radiators in existing houses. I think this whole concept would make the radiator idea become very cost effective and perhaps even commonplace again.

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#3) On June 06, 2012 at 1:53 PM, Turfscape (< 20) wrote:

Thanks for sharing this! It's exciting to see real innovation taking place.

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#4) On June 06, 2012 at 5:36 PM, binve (< 20) wrote:

No problem! I agree we have so many wondeful innovations happenng and exciting research being done.

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#5) On June 06, 2012 at 6:25 PM, portefeuille (98.82) wrote:

clever German engineers

a few of those come from here ->


a paper written there by the non-engineer portefeuille (see this post).

Wrong-Helicity Electrons in Radiative Muon Decay (pdf).

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