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Title: A thermal charge system for variable electrical supplies from renewable sources
Author: Macbeth, John Noel
ISNI:       0000 0004 2745 8097
Awarding Body: University of Aberdeen
Current Institution: University of Aberdeen
Date of Award: 2013
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In a time of a fast growing renewable electricity generation sector, there are challenges regarding the integration of such generation with current transmission infrastructure. Such challenges include problems associated with the intermittent power output of renewable energy sources and the inability to control there output to meet varying electrical demand. Using part of this available energy for the provision of domestic heating loads may help bridge the gap between supply and demand. The use of intermittent electrical energy sources for charging water based thermal energy stores was identified as a research gap. This research project studies the use of intermittent electrical supplies from wind turbines for the provision of space heating and hot water in domestic buildings. It also addresses how solar water heating may be incorporated into the same thermal energy storage unit to create a hybrid system. This thesis outlines and analyses two charge strategies that may be used to promote stratification in water based thermal energy stores when adding intermittent electrical energy. The first makes use of multiple heating elements switched on in sequence (direct system) while the second uses buoyancy forces to take cool water from the bottom of the tank, pass it through the heating element and then place it back in at the top of the tank at a higher temperature (side-arm). The research method includes; 1) a simplified theoretical simulation of direct and side-arm configurations in the transient system simulation software (TRNSYS) to identify system performance when charged from wind and solar energy; 2) a detailed theoretical representation of the side-arm charge mechanism with a modulating valve for TRNSYS; 3) an empirical validation of the detailed theoretical model of the side-arm charge cycle. Outcomes from the simplified theoretical model indicate that the side-arm configuration may have benefits over the direct configuration due to reduced heat loss from the tank, reduced auxiliary energy consumption and increased solar collector performance. The detailed theoretical representation of the side-arm was calibrated using the empirical data gathered. From this, important parameters affecting the performance of the side-arm charge cycle are evaluated. These include the effects of tank height, operating temperature and the power range from the intermittent electrical supply. It is identified that the assumptions made in the simple model are not possible to reproduce in real life and that an analysis using the complex model must be made in order to evaluate any potential benefits of the side-arm over a direct configuration.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Renewable energy sources