CNAP: Evaluating Thermal Energy Storage for Deep Decarbonization

Start Date: 
Feb 1, 2021
End Date: 
Jan 31, 2023

Graham Sustainability Institute’s Carbon Neutrality Acceleration Program (CNAP)

This emerging energy storage solution could offer the best of both worlds—supporting deep decarbonization and keeping costs in check

For the first time in 50 years, low-carbon technologies have overtaken coal globally as the leading source of electricity. With the penetration of renewables continuing to increase, developing cost-effective, scalable, and duration-flexible energy storage is critical to balance energy supply and demand. Enter TES: thermal energy storage.

What makes TES so attractive is its combination of cost-effectiveness and flexibility. It has the potential to integrate electricity with heating/cooling applications that make up 90% of the world’s energy use. However, TES technologies are underexplored, underdeveloped, and yet to be commercialized. This team aims to accelerate the development and adoption of thermal energy storage by focusing on how the physical properties of materials and the heat-transfer performance of TES devices impact their revenues, costs, grid value, and emissions reduction potential.

This highly interdisciplinary project unites investigators who are experts across materials discovery, system design, and techno-economic and sustainability analyses. Co-PI Siegel will contribute background IP on TES materials, and use high-throughput screening and machine learning to further optimize performance. Drawing on these predictions, PI Bala Chandran will develop physics-based models and conduct experiments for heat- and mass-transfer mechanisms. These efforts will be coupled with full-system levelized cost and sustainability analyses performed by Co-PI Craig. The researchers’ cross-disciplinary collaboration will enable the team to identify the most advantageous TES applications and guide the development of materials and designs optimized for those applications.

University of Michigan - Graham Environmental Sustainability Institute
Research Areas: