Research Grants/Fellowships/SBIR

Design and Test of a Solar Thermal Energy Storage and Delivery

EPA Grant Number: SU835301
Title: Design and Test of a Solar Thermal Energy Storage and Delivery
Investigators: Compere, Marc , Dikici, Birce , Tang, Yan , Wong, Yung
Institution: Embry - Riddle Aeronautical University
EPA Project Officer: Lank, Gregory
Project Period: August 15, 2012 through August 14, 2013
Project Amount: $14,744
RFA: P3 Awards: A National Student Design Competition for Sustainability Focusing on People, Prosperity and the Planet (2012) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: Pollution Prevention/Sustainable Development , P3 Challenge Area - Energy , P3 Challenge Area - Green Infrastructure , P3 Awards , Sustainability



Our objective is to collect and store solar thermal power using a thermal energy storage system. The goal is to gather heat from the sun and deliver heat continuously to an application over a 24 hour period. We will gather solar thermal power with concentrating solar collectors and store the heat in an energy accumulator. The energy storage device and energy storing material will be environmentally friendly during manufacturing and disposal, it will be safe during high temperature use, and will be conveniently located in a domestic or industrial application. The primary technical challenge is to collect ample solar power during the daytime to power a thermally driven application after daylight hours.


Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University (ERAU) Senior Design Students in Mechanical Engineering, Electrical Engineering, and Human Factors and Systems will design and test a solar thermal energy storage and delivery device. We will collect solar heat using parabolic trough concentrating solar collectors already at the university. A circulation system and heat transfer fluid (HFT) will transport thermal energy to the energy storage device.

The initial thermal load design will be an instrumented heat dissipater to the environment. The dissipater will represent a thermally driven application and demonstrate baseline heat storage and delivery over 24-hours. For typical solar input during the day, the energy bank will primarily receive and store heat energy for use overnight. The solar collectors must provide enough thermal power to simultaneously charge the thermal storage unit and also supply the required heat load during the daytime. During the evening the energy bank will provide continuous, uninterrupted thermal power delivery to the load. The energy storage must hold enough to supply the load-side demand over 24 hours while receiving only the average 4-6 hours of daily solar input. Instrumentation will display the amount of heat contained in the storage unit.

We will also determine heat delivery requirements suitable for powering a thermally driven cooling system such as an absorption chilling device. The combination of solar thermal storage with a thermally driven cooling application will ideally result in a solar powered cooling device that operates continuously, both day and night.

Expected Results:

System size will be suitable for transport and demonstration at the P3 competition. Instrumentation will display heat transfer from the solar input, to the storage medium, and also delivery to the load. A backup heat source will generate heat for testing or multiple cloudy days. Solar thermal energy collection and storage is our primary objective. The cooling application is a convenient continuous thermal load with broad use in both the developed and developing nations. ERAU has high quality solar collectors so the design challenge will focus on the energy storage design, heat transfer fluid loop design, and heat delivery method.

Supplemental Keywords:

solar thermal, concentrating solar collectors, sustainable power, sustainable energy, solar tracker, absorption chilling device, solar thermal storage