Thermal Energy Storage (TES) is a technology that stocks thermal energy by heating or cooling a storage medium so that the stored energy can be used later for heating and cooling applications and power generation.
Despite efforts to reduce our dependence on fossil fuel, analysts continue to forecast a rise in consumption of up to 50% between 2020 and 2040, according to statistics tracked by the European Union. The depletion of fossil resources has accelerated the movement towards renewable energy sources, making investments in sustainable energy creation include solar, wind, water, and more, which can restore a more natural balance while also meeting urgent demands based on population growth.
Energy storage addresses the challenge to develop efficient and sustainable methods to manage energy generated by renewable energy technology systems stocking thermal energy by heating or cooling a storage medium so that the energy can be used at a later time for heating and cooling applications and power generation.
Advantages of using TES in an energy system are increased reliability and efficiency, and depending on the approach, can lead to better economics, smaller and therefore less risky investment and operating costs, and reduction of CO2 emissions.
Used with photovoltaic systems – which struggle when days are short or cloudy – TES enables 24-hour operations, using both heat and cold storage, and has already saved millions of gigawatts (GW) and millions of tons of CO2 emissions.
TES can be retrofitted into existing buildings and has become popular in new “green certified” facilities enhancing HVAC systems for space heating/cooling and making peak load-shifting solutions possible. In buildings, TES can be creatively applied in the building’s core (core, floor, walls), external solar façades, suspended ceilings, ventilation systems, water tanks, and more and serve as powerful tools in demand-side management.
Sunamp is a highly respected innovator and manufacturer of thermal energy storage to homes, businesses, and communities globally, using TES to make buildings more energy-efficient, sustainable and self-sufficient, optimizing renewable energy sources on-site, and supporting the grid to harvest and sell “waste heat” for re-use.
The company’s patented heat battery energy storage technology based on Phase Change Material (PCM) keeps operations going even during electricity grid outages and has applications in residential, commercial, industrial, and automotive sectors.
“Energy storage is at the very heart of making renewables and energy-efficient measures work.
Based on the understanding that around 80% of energy in the home is used for heat, we
set out to explore the potential of using thermal energy storage to make homes and buildings more energy-efficient and sustainable while reducing carbon emissions,” said Sunamp’s founder and CEO Andrew Bissell.
“Working in collaboration with the University of Edinburgh School of Chemistry, we began R&D and have now commercialized heat batteries, using Phase Change Materials (PCMs) to absorb large amounts of energy when it is available from renewable and other sources, and release it as heat or cool for hot water, space heating or cooling on demand. This is a very exciting time for the company, as more attention is being paid and more investment is being made in sustainable, energy-saving solutions.”
Sunamp is the first and only heat battery manufacturer in the world to be awarded A Grade RAL Certification, the independent quality mark, and the only global standard for Phase Change Material (PCM) and PCM products. The award follows a rigorous test program, which involved heating and cooling the batteries for 10,000 cycles to demonstrate the material’s performance levels and working life. In addition, Sunamp’s own laboratory testing of UniQ batteries has so far reached 40,000 cycles, the equivalent of fifty years full use, with minimum signs of PCM degradation.
When a PCM freezes, it releases a huge amount of energy in the form of latent heat at a constant temperature. Sunamp heat batteries can be charged by any energy source, including electricity, air-source heat pumps, ground-source heat pumps, boilers, and photovoltaics. Compact and modular systems can scale when batteries are connected in series or in parallel to increase heat storage capacity.
“It was important that we make our heat batteries affordable and easy to manage, without taking up valuable real estate,” Bissell explained. “Our high-power density, high energy density technology, which is up to four times smaller than traditional hot water tanks, integrates seamlessly with energy sources to minimize peak energy usage, lower demand charges, and generate new revenue streams from grid services and demand response programs.”
“We are facing a crisis around the world, as traditional electricity sources are limited and harmful to the environment,” Bissell said. Unlike chemical batteries, we use non-hazardous or toxic materials, and there are no end-of-life disposal issues.”
The Sunamp Heat Battery is a well-insulated box filled with Sunamp’s patented PCM. When liquids turn to solids, they release the latent heat of fusion. Water, for example, will absorb 80 calories of energy per gram when it melts and release the same when it freezes at 32 F. The approach mixes up different chemicals to change state at different temperatures, absorbing or releasing energy as required. A copper coil runs through the material and picks up enough heat that it keeps the form factor much smaller than a large tank or cylinder and eliminates certain dangers, including the growth of Legionella bacteria.
Their electric heating element can be hooked up to the grid or to rooftop renewables, collecting energy, for example, from solar panels that can be used when the sun shines or switching to grid power when the sun is not shining.
This time-shifting manages supply and demand, addressing increasing curtailment times put in place by utilities at peak times, keeping energy availability reliable and less expensive.
“Consider large and populated regions like the state of California, where solar-generated power is plentiful. During the day, there is more power than can be used, and in the evening, while air conditioners are humming, more power is needed than can be generated by the panels,” Bissell said. “While well-known big batteries work, our phase change temperature can cool as well as heat, and with a coil run through the AC ducts works brilliantly, with no lithium mining required.”
Sunamp is growing fast and is active globally, with offices in the UK, Europe, China, South America, and plans to expand into the US market this year. Their UK factory and office operates using nearly carbon-free electricity from Scottish wind, and the first factory to operate under license opens in Korea this year.
They are ISO accredited (ISO 9001:2015 – Quality Management; ISO 14001:2015 – Environmental Management; and OSHAS 18001:2007 – Health & Safety, and currently certified for the UK and EU markets, compliance with LVD and EMC directives, and in conformance to standards set out by the Water Regulation Advisory Scheme (WRAS). They are also CE marked. Learn more at www.sunamp.com.
Edited by Luke Bellos
This article was originally published May 25, 2021 on TechZone 360.