Latent Heat Storage in Solar Water Heating Systems

Elphick, James (2017) Latent Heat Storage in Solar Water Heating Systems. [USQ Project]


Phase-change materials are highly regarded for their ability to store large quantities of energy through latent heat of fusion, and extensively researched as a potential high-performance energy storage medium. Solar water heating systems (SWHS) rely heavily on thermal energy storage, with the potential to benefit from a constant temperature, high-density thermal storage medium. The focus of this current research was to determine the real-world impacts of latent heat storage for SWHS producers and consumers from the perspective of the end user. This project aimed to research, design and validate a potential retrofittable phase-change upgrade, primarily relying on simulations developed through programming in an open source language.

The current literature review and design phase established a set of specifications required for optimal performance. Weather data was provided by USQs Toowoomba campus weather station repository, validated by a separate experimental data collection phase. A preliminary material simulation program was written to demonstrate the different characteristics of specific and latent heat storage mediums when operating under transient thermal cycles.

An existing direct-loop commercial system was selected as the baseline configuration, and simulated with multiple upgrade configurations under summer and winter conditions. Furthermore, additional simulations using collected weather data provided insight into how data sources influenced system performance. Results showed that suspending paraffinwax capsules in the storage tank resulted in a 2% reduction of auxiliary heating energy input and improved output stability. Moreover, adding interior panels to isolate hot water produced a 10% efficiency improvement during summer operation, similar to the behaviour of a vertically-stratified tank. These promising results indicated that phase-change storage can deliver tangible improvements, with potential design refinements providing further room for improvement.

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Item Type: USQ Project
Item Status: Live Archive
Additional Information: Bachelor of Engineering (Honours) (Mechanical)
Faculty/School / Institute/Centre: Historic - Faculty of Health, Engineering and Sciences - School of Mechanical and Electrical Engineering (1 Jul 2013 - 31 Dec 2021)
Supervisors: Wandel, Andrew
Date Deposited: 06 Sep 2022 03:44
Last Modified: 06 Sep 2022 03:44
Uncontrolled Keywords: Solar water heating systems (SWHS); heat storage

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