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The University of Nottingham has received £1.3m to develop a thermochemical energy storage (TCES) system to supply cheap, on-demand heat via district heating. Conventional thermochemical energy storage systems require storing or discharging heat intermittently, but this novel system will operate continuously at variable temperatures.
The system involves a double-acting agitated heat recovery and heat charging mechanism to store and discharge the heat. It also consists of inorganic oxide compounds with very high energy density, where the heat can be stored and then at a later date be reactivated by means of chemical reaction.
A pilot TCES model will be connected to a small-scale district heating network already in operation at the Creative Energy Homes complex at the University of Nottingham. This will then be evaluated for effectiveness and performance.
Project lead investigator, Professor Jo Darkwa, says: “From 2030 individual homes and commissioned buildings won’t be able to use individual gas boilers, so we need low carbon and zero carbon heating systems that can replace fossil-fuelled systems. A key alternative is district heating systems which distribute hot water into multiple properties via networks of communal pipes.”
Professor Darkwa adds: “To maximise its supply, the new system will be able to collect heat from different sources and temperatures. It will be flexible and smart, able to sense the temperature that is being delivered and store it appropriately. It will also be relatively cheap to run compared to conventional systems, which store heat in large water tanks at fixed temperature. At domestic level, it removes the fossil fuel cost, and the financial burden of boiler purchase, servicing and maintenance.”
Funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, the three-year project involves expertise from the Faculty of Engineering, the School of Chemistry and Nottingham University Business School.