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Novel Storage Technologies for Thermal Energy
Use of solar energy for electric power generation is expected to increase exponentially. Current concentrating solar collectors can collect solar energy at high temperatures, up to 1000 degrees C. It is desirable and economical to be able to store this energy when the sunshine is available and use it for power generation when the sunshine is not there. Current thermal storage systems (TES) cannot operate at temperatures higher than 350 degrees C because of the limitations on storage media and also due to heat transfer fluids used. Our goal is to increase the temperature of the storage media to higher temperatures, more than 400 degrees C, as well as increasing energy storage density--We are utilizing phase change, solid to liquid, to increase both. Currently we are testing storage materials, which melt at 450 degrees C, however our ultimate goal is to increase this temperature to around 700 degrees C. Calorimetric experiments are being carried out to determine the stability of storage and release of energy in to the storage materials. Testing of a pilot storage system is also in progress. This experimental work is being supported by predictive modeling in order to extend the results to large scale applications. Click here for a related article in Resolve Magazine.
Heat Transfer in Gas-Solid Fluidized Beds
Gas-solid fluidized beds find many applications in chemical and environmental industry. Heat transfer between the fluidized particles and solid surfaces is complex and dependent to many variables. Extensive experimental research is carried out in our laboratory to understand the hydrodynamics of this gas-solid flow and mechanisms for heat transfer. Specific instrumentation has been developed to characterize local and average particle concentrations and their effect on heat transfer rate. Analytical and phenomenological models are developed to represent characteristics of the two-phase flow and heat transfer.
Boiling and Evaporation
Boiling of single or multi-component fluids is encountered in many processes in the chemical industry, which include small air conditioning systems as well as large power plants. In our laboratories, we have an extensive experimental program to study convective boiling as well as pool boiling of single and multi-component fluids. The overall phenomena are a complex one involving fluid mechanics, heat and mass transfer. We have developed special instrumentation to detect local and average information on void fraction and heat transfer. Experimental information helps us to understand the phenomena and develop phenomenological models/correlations for use in engineering applications in chemical engineering industry.