With about 50 members of staff, the department of Thermal Process Technology is concerned with energy storage, thermal management and heat exchange topics. These topics are of importance to all fields of energy use and energy supply.
Apart from applications in the fields of industrial process heat, combined heat and power and fossil power plants, thermal energy storages are developed and qualified for solar thermal power plants. The significance of energy storage for the power plant sector is reinforced by the demands on net stability with an increasing share of renewable electricity production and by the recent developments in the field of solar thermal power plants, to cover the increasing electricity demand in central Europe. Innovative storage concepts for a temperature range from 100 to 1000 °C are being developed and realized in the department. The technologies under development cover sensible heat storage based on liquid and solid materials, latent heat storage and thermochemical systems.
The increasing urgency to reduce the primary energy consumption in the commercial and industrial area requires the exploitation of to-date unused waste heat. For the purpose of high temperature applications with gaseous heat transfer fluids in power plants and industrial processes, high temperature heat exchangers based on ceramic materials are being developed. Thereby, the focus lies on thermal and thermo-mechanical design issues, which are also validated experimentally.
In the area of alternative fuels, the focus is on liquid (biogenic) hydrocarbons. The thermochemical conversion processes for the production of hydrogen for decentralized power or mobile applications and decentralized stationary electricity production are being researched, as well as gas clean-up processes for decentralized power production from renewable biomass. The relevance of storing surplus electricity in the form of liquid hydrocarbons is investigated by process simulation and techno-economic assessment.The key topics of the department are covered by 4 research areas:
- Thermal Energy Storage – Development of high temperature heat storage for solar thermal power plants and industrial process heat applications; the emphasis lies on applications with liquid or two-phase heat transfer fluids
- Thermochemical Systems – Investigation of gas-solid reactions to be used in thermochemical heat storages with very high storage and heat flux densities, for heat transformation and as hydrogen storage
- Thermal Power Plant Components – Development of high temperature heat storage and ceramic heat exchangers for gaseous heat transfer fluids to increase the energy efficiency of power plant and process technologies
- Alternative Fuels – Investigation and assessment of processes for hydrogen production from biogenic primary fuels and for production of liquid hydrocarbons to store surplus electricity from renewable sources