Heating space and water in buildings accounts for about ¼ of all energy consumption, making it the biggest challenge in providing affordable low carbon energy. Thermal Heat Storage Research at SPECIFIC aims to greatly enhance UK research and development in heat storage as an off-grid gas replacement technology. We are currently working on diurnal (day to night) and inter-seasonal (summer to winter) thermal storage.
Our inter-seasonal heat storage system uses Salt in Matrix, or “SIM” material, which is able to store thermal energy through a thermochemical process. Thermal energy (heat) is stored by passing hot air over the SIM, creating a chemical reaction that locks the energy into the material. The reverse reaction is exothermical, meaning that heat is released, and is instigated by passing humid air over the SIM. Provided the SIM is kept dry it is able to store the heat indefinitely. This makes it suitable for the inter-seasonal storage of heat and for transporting heat from one location to another. The MESH project (Mobile Energy Storage as Heat), led by SPECIFIC will investigate and optimise the capture, storage and release of heat from industrial waste air streams using thermochemical storage (TCS) materials.
The thermal heat storage team at SPECIFIC is exploring a range of commercial applications of the SIM, from providing heat to large buildings as a substitute to gas, through storage and transportation of industrial waste heat to the drying of agricultural produce. This work is undertaken in partnership across our laboratories in the Pilot Manufacturing Research Centre, at scale in the Solar Heat Energy Demonstrator building and on industrial and agricultural sites across Wales and the UK.