Concrete & Water — a new heat storage & exchange medium to improve seasonal effectiveness of solar thermal and other alternative heat energies
Feb 07, 2006
A new concept of underground long- and short-term heat storage and exchange advised for modern district and single building energy efficient heating and cooling systems.
Buildings today account for 40 percent of energy consumption in developed countries according to the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). In view of the energy shortage and desirability of reducing CO2-emissions, there is a need for means of heating and cooling buildings while conserving energy.
Following the above basic concept Orange Depot & Exchange Systems has developed a new heat storage building material, which is a modified kind of concrete/mortar cured in one solid block with a very special porous and capillary structure (see Figure 2). This structure takes up water completely up to over 50 % of its volume and hold it by capillary effect. And this material can be over-built while it needs no additional heavy-duty and expensive basin, tank or reservoir construction. And the material consists of conventional building material components (cement, lime plus additives), so it can be simply manufactured and installed by low cost.
The construction is very simple. Before the building will be erected, an appropriately sized and special shaped pit is excavated. The heat storage system can be installed in two options. One is to deliver the heat storage system as a ready cured concrete block with completely integrated technical equipment by a truck to the site and heaved by a mobile crane into the pit (Variant A-1, see Figure 3).
The second option is transporting the ready-mixed concrete to the site by a truck and filling it directly into the pit (Variant A-2). The concrete has been filled up to the top of the pit while a heat pipe collector system is integrated and positioned in several horizontal levels and/or vertical sections Depending on the planned later specific use of the storage system the side and bottom wall of the pit can be lined before/after the concrete installation with a watertight sheeting (fat black line) and/or an appropriate insulation material (grey coloured with fat black points). After the concrete is cured, respectively the delivered block is set into the pit the concrete can be completely saturated with water. Then an insulation plate made of conventional watertight cellular concrete, or any other technology, and the base plate of the building can be built on top, while the connecting filling and measurement pipes and sensors will be vertically inserted. Now the building can be erected. The porous and capillary structure of the concrete hold the water by itself, so if there is any leak only a trace amount of water is lost, which can be topped up again via the filling equipment.
As mentioned, another option is to install a vertically arranged collector system, e.g. by a field of spiral (Slinky-) collectors (see below). The hottest area is in the vertical middle of the storage system, and the temperature fall radially to the side (to the circumference of the concrete block).
But the same function can be reached with the pre-manufactured variant A-1 too, if no insulation is be planned.
Variant B is basically similar as the variant A, but its main designed function is less as a heat storage system but more as an underground borehole heat exchanger, which is additionally wrapped in a water/heat storage material made of concrete. The depth and cross dimension including the concrete coating can vary depending on the individual request and use. The smaller the cross dimension and longer the depth is the more it is a heat exchanger, the bigger the cross dimension and shorter the depth is, the more the system become a heat storage system.
This concept includes a modern building erected with energy efficient building materials and a self-sufficient energy supply system by using a low-energy heating and cooling system and renewable and waste heat energy sources as solar heat and power combined with ground heat recovery technology, and if necessary a heat pump. The complete plant is managed by an Energy Management System (EMS).
The bore hole ground heat exchangers are arranged around the short-term heat storage system, so no additional insulation to the side is necessary. The soil is moistened by controlled leaching of water out of both, the short-term heat exchanger and the ground heat exchangers. This creates an optimal condition for heat storage even under overbuilt surfaces under most economic aspects. Both examples provides as short as possible energy transportation distances, so heat loss is minimised.
- The special concrete can be simply produced in large quantities for a reasonable price.
- The special concrete is easy to install by minimum use of cement, and fills up the pit completely.
- The special concrete structure can take up a high volume of water after curing and hold it by capillary effect, making use of the high heat storage capacity of water.
- The special concrete has a high weight bearing strength, and thus, can be over-built without any supporting building elements.
- The special concrete has a self-sealing and reinforcing effect towards the surrounding soil.
- The special concrete storage system is environmentally friendly, maintenance-free, storage efficient and cost effective, long –lasting, and corrosion resistant.
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Dipl.-Ing. Michael Henze [Tec Management]
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