Thermal Energy Storage

As latent heat accumulators, phase-change materials (PCM) increase the heat capacity of buildings and ensure a stable and pleasant indoor climate. In production, its operating temperature can be adjusted from -10°C to 80°C (14°F to 176°F). Of particular importance is the usage in lightweight construction, as they can be directly integrated in the plaster or dry construction panel in form of microcapsules. Besides buildings, PCM can also be used in any application where there is need for a high heat storage capacity in a small area, for example in heat exchangers or water heaters. Experts at Fraunhofer also work on pumpable high performance refrigerants like ice suspensions for use in process and transportation cooling or in the food industry. Absorption and adsorption processes also make heat and cold storage possible. This so-called sorptive or thermochemical heat storage provides the advantage of achieving a very high storage density and covering a wide range of temperatures. Moreover, thermal energy losses during the storage period are minimized.

Competences »Thermal Energy Storage« | Fraunhofer Energy Alliance

Phase Change Materials (PCM)

By using phase change materials (PCM), thermal energy can be stored in latent heat accumulators over a longer period of time. Our member institutes are working to further develop the technology and integrate it into new contexts. For example, Fraunhofer researchers are developing organic and aqueous PCM capsules and studying their integration into building materials. Work is also underway to implement mobile air conditioning using phase change materials instead of batteries. The latest developments at Fraunhofer are concerned with high-temperature PCM in the form of metal alloys for the storage of heat >250°C, which enables, among other things, direct evaporation and the provision of process steam during storage. The focus here is on applications in power plants and industrial parks.



Heat Storage for Industry & Power Plants

Heat storage units, in particular metal-based high-temperature storage units, can make the operation of industrial cogeneration plants more flexible.


Energy Generation and Use

Optimizing thermal energy systems presents operators with major challenges. The Fraunhofer IISB can help here.