Demonstration of a solar combi-system utilizing stable supercooling of sodium acetate trihydrate for heat storage

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Achieving a high fraction of solar heat in heat supply for domestic buildings would reduce the use of fossil fuels for heat generation and has been a goal for a long time. Combined short and long-term heat storage has been identified as one way of achieving solar fractions higher than 50 percent in heat supply for domestic buildings. To this end, a laboratory solar heating system was built with heat-pipe tubular collectors 22.4 m2 in aperture and a heat-storage prototype consisting of a 735 L water tank and four PCM units each containing 200 kg sodium acetate trihydrate (SAT) composite. The SAT composite was utilized as sensible heat storage with the additional ability to release heat of fusion on demand. Operation was demonstrated with the space heating and hot water demand patterns of a standard-size Passive House in the Danish climate. A strategy was developed to control the system. Seven operation modes enabled combined charging of water tank and PCM units, heat transfer from PCM units to the water tank when heat was in demand, and the right timing of auxiliary heating. We present the controller settings identified and the heat transfer fluid flow rates applied. Sequences of water tank charging, and single and parallel PCM unit charging were used to match the collector power available and the heat transfer limitations of the stores. During the charging of PCM units, the flow temperature was kept between 70 and 95 °C to allow continuous heat transfer rates of up to 16 kW. Peaks of up to 36 kW occurred when PCM units were added to the charging circuit. During heat transfer from PCM units to the water tank, flow temperatures were close to the SAT composite temperature and thermal power of up to 6 kW was measured. The heat stores were efficiently utilized in spring and autumn. The developed control strategy and measurement data from system demonstration will form the basis for numerical performance investigations.
Original languageEnglish
Article number114647
JournalApplied Thermal Engineering
Number of pages12
Publication statusPublished - 2020


  • Solar heating system
  • System demonstration
  • Control strategy
  • Heat storage prototype
  • Phase change material
  • Stable supercooling


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