This paper addresses the need of multi-tube latent heat thermal storage (LHTES) systems with enhanced heat transfer performance. Uniquely, this work draws from topology optimization method for thermal energy storage to search for the optimal configuration of fins in multi-tube LHTES systems with different phase change materials (PCMs), flow arrangements and design constraints. The design freedom of topology optimization allows the discovery of innovative LHTES designs and elucidate the link between design and physical processes occurring during charging/discharging. Three key results of this study are: i) the optimized fin design is tightly connected to the type of storage duty cycle, which demonstrates the necessity to account for realistic operating conditions in the optimization process. ii) The fin material should be chosen in parallel with the layout of the fins and not sequentially as commonly done; this indicates that the optimization of LHTES systems is a co-design challenge. iii) Topology optimized multi-tube LHTES units surpass in performance fins optimized for a single-tube configuration in a multi-tube unit. Finally, this work demonstrates for the first time the manufacturability of topology-optimized LHTES units by using 3D printing.
- thermal energy storage
- phase change materials (PCMs)
- heat transfer intensification
- topology optimization
- energy storage