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Assessment of Natural Convection Heat Transfer in an Isochoric Thermal Energy Storage System

[+] Author Affiliations
Reza Baghaei Lakeh, Yetlanezi B. Guerrero

California State Polytechnic University, Pomona, CA

Karthik Nithyanandam, Richard E. Wirz

University of California Los Angeles, Los Angeles, CA

Paper No. IMECE2015-52284, pp. V06AT07A058; 6 pages
  • ASME 2015 International Mechanical Engineering Congress and Exposition
  • Volume 6A: Energy
  • Houston, Texas, USA, November 13–19, 2015
  • Conference Sponsors: ASME
  • ISBN: 978-0-7918-5743-4
  • Copyright © 2015 by ASME


Most of the renewable energy sources, including solar and wind suffer from significant intermittency due to day/night cycles and unpredictable weather patterns. Energy Storage systems are required to enable the renewable energy sources to continuously generate energy for the power grid. Thermal Energy Storage (TES) is one of the most promising forms of energy storage due to simplicity and economic reasons. However, heat transfer is a well-known problem of most TES systems that utilize solid state or phase change. Insufficient heat transfer impairs the functionality of the system by imposing an upper limit on the power generation. Isochoric thermal energy storage system is suggested as a low-cost alternative for salt-based thermal energy storage systems. The isochoric thermal energy storage systems utilize a liquid storage medium and benefit from enhanced heat transfer due to the presence of buoyancy-driven flows. In this study, the effect of buoyancy-driven flows on the heat transfer characteristics of an Isochoric Thermal Energy Storage system is studied computationally. The storage fluid is molten elemental sulfur which has promising cost benefits. For this study, the storage fluid is stored in horizontal storage tubes. A computational model was developed to study the effect of buoyancy-driven flow and natural convection heat transfer on the charge/discharge times. The computational model is developed using an unsteady Finite Volume Method to model the transient heat transfer from the constant-temperature tube wall to the storage fluid. The results of this study show that the heat transfer process in Isochoric thermal energy storage system is dominated by natural convection and the buoyancy-driven flow reduces the charge time of the storage tube by 72–93%.

Copyright © 2015 by ASME



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