CEAE Faculty Awarded $1 Million to Investigate Solar Thermal Energy Storage

October 19, 2012 • Tags:, ,

Flow processes investigated through full-scale field tests, soil tank tests, and numerical simulations of soil-borehole thermal energy storage systems. Click image to view larger.

CEAE professor John McCartney and Co-PI Adam Reed (Law) received $1.01 million from the National Science Foundation for work on “Sustainable Energy Pathways Collaborative: Pathways to Scalable, Efficient and Sustainable Soil Borehole Thermal Energy Storage Systems.”

This project focuses on the fundamental multi-physics processes, engineering challenges, and implementation strategies for soil borehole thermal energy storage (SBTES) of heat generated from solar thermal arrays. A transformative approach of forming a heat pipe by exploiting the thermo-hydraulic properties of unsaturated soils and coupled heat, water, and vapor flow processes is being investigated. Field, laboratory, and numerical simulations are being used to identify the optimum scalable energy storage efficiency for SBTES systems for residential-, community-, and industrial-scale operations. Data on usage trends and socio-economic issues related to policy strategies from existing sites is being analyzed to identify implementation strategies. SBTES systems could provide a key element in balancing the cost and efficiency of renewable energy technologies such as solar-thermal panels, influencing the fate of these technologies.