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Thermal Energy Storage Using Solid Particles for Building Heating and Cooling

Stage: Development

Renewable energy generators provide abundant, cheap electricity; however, these generators may have their capacities curtailed due to insufficient energy demand by consumers on the grid. One way to store excess renewable energy, balance the grid, and contribute toward the decarbonization of building heating and cooling is to store electrical energy as thermal energy within a particle-based thermal-energy-storage (TES) system for building heating and cooling applications. While state-of-the-art systems may suffer from high costs, intensive maintenance, and low capacity factors, researchers at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) have developed a TES system that is easily integrable with existing infrastructure, low maintenance, and safe.  NREL’s particle-based TES system stores cheap off-peak electricity to meet a building’s heating and cooling needs, save utility costs, and integrate renewable electricity to reduce the building’s carbon footprint.

The National Renewable Energy Laboratory’s (NREL’s) solid-particle-based thermal-energy-storage (TES) system includes at least one insulated TES silo that stores cold or hot particles, which transfer energy across a heat exchanger to a building’s heating or cooling system. The TES system’s heat exchangers may be combined with a heat pump, a chiller, or an electric resistance heater to recharge by heating or cooling the particles during off-peak grid hours. The TES system can provide seasonal heating and cooling to buildings in a wide range of uses (e.g. commercial and residential) and in a wide range of climates and geographic locations.

To learn more about Thermal Energy Storage Using Solid Particles for Building Heating and Cooling, please contact Erin Beaumont at:

ROI 20-24.

Applications and Industries

  • Distribution-grid operators
  • HVAC manufacturers/installers
  • Grid- and HVAC-component manufacturers


  • Effective decarbonization of building heating and cooling.
  • Flexible configuration of the storage system’s operation, size, and architecture.
  • Designed from common, low-cost, and durable materials.
  • High performance with long-life storage (>98% thermal storage efficiency and >30-year lifetime possible).
  • Relatively low system cost enabled by inexpensive system components.