Thermal energy storage (TES) systems typically use a fluid or solid medium to store heat that can later be converted into electricity. TES is ideal for energy generated through pumped heat, compressed air, concentrated solar power or molten salt.
Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) is developing science and engineering solutions for thermal energy storage applications spanning several technologies. Our thermal energy storage research integrates chemistry, electrical, fluids and mechanical engineering for grids and industrial applications such as:
Concentrated Solar Power Energy Storage
Concentrated Solar Power Energy Storage (CSP) energy generation uses large arrays of mirrors or lenses to concentrate sunlight onto a small fixed point. The heat from this fixed point is then transferred to a conventional steam generator for conversion into electricity. Heat from CSP power plants can be stored and later converted to electricity.
As a source of renewable energy that lacks on-demand availability, CSP is compatible with thermal energy storage solutions because it allows users to store solar power for later use. In addition to thermal energy storage, SwRI researchers are pursuing supercritical CO2 generation technology that improves CSP power plant efficiency. Related CSP storage technologies include:
Molten Salt Energy Storage
The Microencapsulation group developed phase-change chemicals that retain heat in molten salt energy storage to extend output at CSP plants. Learn more at Encapsulation of High Temperature Molten Salts or read Delaying the Sunset in Technology Today.
From electro-chemical to mechanical and pumped storage hydropower, SwRI is helping government and industry to develop advanced energy storage solutions.