The thermal response of a multi-tank thermal storage was studied under variable charge conditions. Tests were conducted on an experimental apparatus that simulated the thermal charging of the storage system by a solar collector over predetermined (prescribed) daylong periods. The storage was assembled from three standard 270. L hot-water storage tanks each charged through coupled, side-arm, natural convection heat exchangers which were connected in either a series- or parallel-flow configuration. Both energy storage rates and tank temperature profiles were experimentally measured during charge periods representative of two consecutive clear days or combinations of a clear and overcast day. During this time, no draw-offs were conducted. Of particular interest was the effect of rising and falling charge-loop temperatures and collector-loop flow rate on storage tank stratification levels. Results of this study show that the series-connected thermal storage reached high levels of temperature stratification in the storage tanks during periods of rising charge temperatures and also limited destratification during periods of falling charge temperature. This feature is a consequence of the series-connected configuration that allowed sequential stratification to occur in the component tanks and energy to be distributed according to temperature level. This effect was not observed in the parallel charge configuration. A further aspect of the study investigated the effect of increasing charge-loop flow rate on the temperature distribution within the series-connected storage and showed that, at high flow rates, the temperature distributions were found to be similar to those obtained during parallel charging. A disadvantage of both the high-flow series-connected and parallel-connected multi-tank storage is that falling charge-loop temperatures, which normally occur in the afternoon, tend to mix and destratify the storage tanks.

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Solar Energy
Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering

Cruickshank, C, & Harrison, S.J. (Stephen J.). (2011). Thermal response of a series- and parallel-connected solar energy storage to multi-day charge sequences. Solar Energy, 85(1), 180–187. doi:10.1016/j.solener.2010.09.010