Optical measurements on thermal convection processes inside thermal energy storages during stand-by periods

Thermal energy storages (TES) are increasingly important for storing energy from renewable energy sources. TES that work with liquid storage materials are used in their most efficient way by stratifying the storage fluid by its thermal density gradient. Mixing of the stratification layers during stand-by periods decreases the thermal efficiency of the TES. Tank sidewalls, unlike the often poorly heat-conducting storage fluids, promote a heat flux from the hot to the cold layer and lead to thermal convection. In this experimental study planar particle image velocimetry (PIV) measurements and background-oriented schlieren (BOS) temperature measurements are performed in a model experiment of a TES to characterise the influence of the thermal convection on the stratification and thus the storage efficiency. The PIV results show two vertical, counter-directed wall jets that approach in the thermocline between the stratification layers. The wall jet in the hot part of the thermal stratification shows compared to the wall jet in the cold region strong fluctuations in the vertical velocity, that promote mixing of the two layers. The BOS measurements have proven that the technique is capable of measuring temperature fields in thermally stratified storage tanks. The density gradient field as an intermediate result during the evaluation of the temperature field can be used to indicate convective structures that are in good agreement to the measured velocity fields.


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