Advanced Thermal Energy Storage (TES) Materials

Detailed overview of innovation with sample startups and prominent university research


What it is

Advanced thermal energy storage (TES) materials are substances with enhanced properties that allow for efficient storage and release of thermal energy. These materials play a crucial role in various applications, including renewable energy integration, building energy efficiency, and industrial process heat management.

Impact on climate action

Advanced Thermal Energy Storage (TES) Materials within the Thermal & Mechanical Storage domain propel climate action by optimizing energy storage efficiency. By improving heat retention and release properties, these innovations enable more effective utilization of renewable energy sources, reducing reliance on fossil fuels and mitigating carbon emissions, thus combating climate change.

Underlying
Technology

TES materials store thermal energy through various mechanisms:

  • Sensible Heat Storage: Materials store thermal energy by changing temperature. Examples include water, rocks, and concrete.
  • Latent Heat Storage: Materials store thermal energy during phase transitions, such as melting or solidifying. Examples include phase change materials (PCMs) like paraffin wax and salt hydrates.
  • Thermochemical Storage: Materials store thermal energy through reversible chemical reactions. Examples include metal hydrides and ammonia-based systems.

TRL : 4-7 (depending on the specific material and application)

Prominent Innovation themes

  • High-Performance PCMs: Researchers are developing new PCMs with higher energy densities, improved thermal conductivity, and wider operating temperature ranges.
  • Thermochemical Storage Materials: Innovations in thermochemical storage materials focus on improving reaction kinetics, increasing energy density, and reducing costs.
  • Nano-Enhanced TES Materials: Nanomaterials, such as nanoparticles and nanofluids, can enhance the thermal properties of TES materials, improving their performance and efficiency.
  • Composite TES Materials: Combining different TES materials can create composites with tailored properties for specific applications.

Other Innovation Subthemes

  • Enhanced PCM Formulations
  • Thermochemical Storage Advancements
  • Nanotechnology in TES Materials
  • Composite TES Solutions
  • High-Density PCM Development
  • Next-Gen Thermochemical Reactors
  • Nanomaterials for Thermal Storage
  • Tailored Composite Materials
  • Improved Thermal Conductivity PCMs
  • Advanced Thermochemical Processes
  • Nanofluids for Enhanced TES
  • Customized Composite Solutions
  • PCM Innovations for Buildings
  • Thermochemical Storage Systems
  • Nanomaterial Integration in TES
  • Composite Materials for Industry
  • PCM Solutions for Energy Efficiency
  • Thermochemical Storage Technologies
  • Composite TES Solutions for CSP

Sample Global Startups and Companies

  1. Sunamp:
    • Technology Enhancement: Sunamp specializes in advanced thermal energy storage solutions using phase change materials (PCMs) and heat pumps. Their systems store and release thermal energy efficiently, enabling space heating, hot water supply, and industrial process heating. Sunamp’s PCM-based modules offer high energy density, rapid charging and discharging, and long-term durability.
    • Uniqueness of the Startup: Sunamp stands out for its compact and versatile thermal energy storage systems suitable for residential, commercial, and industrial applications. Their solutions provide a flexible and scalable approach to thermal energy management, allowing customers to optimize energy use, reduce costs, and lower carbon emissions.
    • End-User Segments Addressing: Sunamp serves homeowners, developers, building contractors, and industrial facilities seeking efficient and sustainable heating and hot water solutions. Their thermal energy storage systems are deployed in residential buildings, commercial properties, and off-grid applications, offering reliable and cost-effective energy management solutions.
  2. 1414 Degrees:
    • Technology Enhancement: 1414 Degrees develops thermal energy storage systems based on molten silicon and phase change materials. Their TES solutions store heat at high temperatures for grid-scale energy storage, industrial processes, and renewable energy integration. 1414 Degrees’ systems offer high thermal conductivity, energy density, and cycling stability, enabling long-duration energy storage and grid stabilization.
    • Uniqueness of the Startup: 1414 Degrees stands out for its innovative approach to thermal energy storage using molten silicon, which offers high energy density and compatibility with existing power generation infrastructure. Their systems provide a cost-effective and scalable solution for balancing renewable energy generation and improving grid reliability.
    • End-User Segments Addressing: 1414 Degrees targets utilities, renewable energy developers, and industrial facilities seeking large-scale thermal energy storage solutions. Their TES systems are deployed in conjunction with solar and wind farms, thermal power plants, and industrial processes, providing grid stability and energy flexibility.
  3. Malta Inc.:
    • Technology Enhancement: Malta Inc. focuses on grid-scale thermal energy storage systems using molten salt and antifreeze as storage media. Their TES solution utilizes a reversible electrochemical process to store and release thermal energy efficiently. Malta’s systems offer high energy density, fast response times, and long-duration storage capabilities, making them suitable for renewable energy integration and grid stabilization.
    • Uniqueness of the Startup: Malta Inc. stands out for its novel approach to thermal energy storage based on electrochemical reactions, which enables high efficiency and scalability. Their TES systems offer a reliable and cost-effective solution for balancing variable renewable energy generation and enhancing grid resilience.
    • End-User Segments Addressing: Malta Inc. serves utilities, renewable energy developers, and grid operators seeking large-scale energy storage solutions. Their TES systems are deployed in utility-scale solar and wind projects, grid-connected microgrids, and industrial facilities, providing grid stability and energy reliability.

Sample Research At Top-Tier Universities

  1. Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT):
    • Research Focus: MIT is a pioneer in research on Advanced Thermal Energy Storage (TES) Materials, focusing on the development of novel materials, composites, and phase-change materials (PCMs) for efficient and high-capacity thermal energy storage applications.
    • Uniqueness: Their research involves designing and synthesizing materials with tailored properties such as high heat capacity, thermal conductivity, and stability to enable effective thermal energy storage and release. They also explore advanced manufacturing techniques, nanostructuring, and hierarchical architectures to enhance material performance and scalability.
    • End-use Applications: The outcomes of their work have applications in concentrated solar power (CSP) plants, district heating and cooling systems, and industrial process heat. By developing advanced TES materials, MIT’s research contributes to improving energy efficiency, grid stability, and renewable energy integration, enabling the transition to a sustainable and resilient energy infrastructure.
  2. National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL):
    • Research Focus: NREL conducts cutting-edge research on Advanced Thermal Energy Storage (TES) Materials, leveraging its expertise in materials science, nanotechnology, and renewable energy systems to develop next-generation materials for thermal energy storage applications.
    • Uniqueness: Their research encompasses the synthesis, characterization, and performance evaluation of TES materials under diverse operating conditions and thermal cycling regimes. They also investigate the integration of TES materials with CSP systems, waste heat recovery technologies, and building HVAC systems to enhance energy efficiency and system reliability.
    • End-use Applications: The outcomes of their work find applications in grid-scale energy storage, solar-driven cooling systems, and thermal management in electronic devices. By advancing TES materials, NREL’s research supports the deployment of renewable energy technologies, grid modernization, and climate change mitigation efforts.
  3. University of California, Berkeley:
    • Research Focus: UC Berkeley is engaged in innovative research on Advanced Thermal Energy Storage (TES) Materials, leveraging its expertise in materials engineering, computational modeling, and sustainable energy systems to develop high-performance materials for thermal energy storage applications.
    • Uniqueness: Their research involves the design, synthesis, and characterization of novel materials such as metal-organic frameworks (MOFs), porous carbons, and phase-change composites for thermal energy storage. They also investigate material degradation mechanisms, thermal stability, and long-term performance to ensure reliability and durability in real-world applications.
    • End-use Applications: The outcomes of their work have applications in solar heating and cooling, waste heat recovery, and thermal energy management in buildings and industries. By developing advanced TES materials, UC Berkeley’s research contributes to enhancing energy affordability, resilience, and sustainability in diverse sectors of the economy.

commercial_img Commercial Implementation

Advanced TES materials are being implemented in various commercial applications, including:

  • Building Energy Storage: PCMs and other TES materials are being used in buildings to store excess heat or cold, reducing peak energy demand and improving energy efficiency.
  • Industrial Process Heat: High-temperature TES systems are being used to store and recover waste heat from industrial processes, improving energy efficiency and reducing emissions.
  • Concentrated Solar Power (CSP): Molten salt is used as a heat transfer fluid and storage medium in CSP plants, enabling electricity generation even when the sun isn’t shining.