Environmental assessment of latent heat thermal energy storage technology system with phase change material for domestic heating applications

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

  • External authors:
  • Daniel Chocontá Bernal
  • Edmundo Muñoz
  • Giovanni Manente
  • Adriano Sciacovell
  • Hossein Ameli

Abstract

The emissions generated by the space and water heating of UK homes need to be reduced to meet the goal of becoming carbon neutral by 2050. The combination of solar (S) collectors with latent heat thermal energy storage (LHTES) technologies with phase change materials (PCM) can potentially help to achieve this goal. However, there is limited understanding of the environmental sustainability of LHTES technologies from a full life cycle perspective. This study assesses for the first time 18 environmental impacts of a full S-LHTES-PCM system from a cradle to grave perspective and compares the results with the most common sources of heat in UK homes. The results show that the system's main environmental hotspots are the solar collector, the PCM, the PCM tank, and the heat exchanger. The main cause of most of the impacts is the extensive consumption of electricity and heat during the production of raw materials for these components. The comparison with other sources of household heat (biomass, heat pump and natural gas) indicate that the S-LHTES-PCM system generates the highest environmental impact in 11 of 18 categories. However, a sensitivity analysis based on the lifetime of the S-LHTES-PCM systems shows that, when the lifetime increases to 40 years, almost all the impacts are significantly reduced. In fact, a 40-year S-LHTES-PCM system has a lower global warming potential than natural gas.

Bibliographical metadata

Original languageEnglish
JournalSustainability
Publication statusPublished - 7 Oct 2021