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Effect of Natural Convection on Thermal Energy Storage in Supercritical Fluids

[+] Author Affiliations
Reza Baghaei Lakeh, Adrienne S. Lavine, H. Pirouz Kavehpour, Richard E. Wirz

University of California Los Angeles, Los Angeles, CA

Gani B. Ganapathi

California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, CA

Paper No. ES2013-18079, pp. V001T05A001; 9 pages
  • ASME 2013 7th International Conference on Energy Sustainability collocated with the ASME 2013 Heat Transfer Summer Conference and the ASME 2013 11th International Conference on Fuel Cell Science, Engineering and Technology
  • ASME 2013 7th International Conference on Energy Sustainability
  • Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA, July 14–19, 2013
  • Conference Sponsors: Advanced Energy Systems Division, Solar Energy Division
  • ISBN: 978-0-7918-5551-5
  • Copyright © 2013 by ASME


Heat transfer to the storage fluid is a critical subject in thermal energy storage systems. The storage fluids that are proposed for supercritical thermal storage system are organic fluids that have poor thermal conductivity; therefore, pure conduction will not be an efficient heat transfer mechanism for the system. The current study concerns a supercritical thermal energy storage system consisting of horizontal tubes filled with a supercritical fluid. The results of this study show that the heat transfer to the supercritical fluid is highly dominated by natural convection. The buoyancy-driven flow inside the storage tubes dominates the flow field and enhances the heat transfer dramatically. Depending on the diameter of the storage tube, the buoyancy-driven flow may be laminar or turbulent. The natural convection has a significant effect on reducing the charge time compared to pure conduction. It was concluded that although the thermal conductivity of the organic supercritical fluids are relatively low, the effective laminar or turbulent natural convection compensates for this deficiency and enables the supercritical thermal storage to charge effectively.

Copyright © 2013 by ASME



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