A solar combi-system utilizing stable supercooling of sodium acetate trihydrate for heat storage: Numerical performance investigation

Gerald Englmair, Christoph Moser, Hermann Schranzhofer, Jianhua Fan, Simon Furbo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


To reduce the energy consumption of buildings significantly, a novel solar combi-system with short and long-term heat storage has been developed. A system prototype with 22.4 m2 (aperture) evacuated tubular collectors, a 735 L water tank and 4 phase change material (PCM) units each containing 150 L sodium acetate trihydrate composite has been built. Experimental investigation has shown advantages of utilization of stable supercooling of sodium acetate trihydrate in spring and autumn. In this paper, a newly developed numerical model was used to investigate the performance potential of the system with combined utilization of the water tank and the PCM units, including on-demand crystallization of supercooled sodium acetate trihydrate composites. PCM units, the water tank and the collector circuit models were validated with measurement data from system demonstration. Space heating and hot water demand patterns of a Danish single-family Passive House with a yearly heat demand of 3723 kWh were applied. Results showed that a 56% annual solar fraction of heat supply was achieved with the prototype specifications. A 69% solar fraction could be achieved with an optimized scenario including a 15% increased hot water demand. Sensitivity analysis of component sizing showed that PCM units of 200 L can be more efficiently used with a 0.6 m3 water tank. Optimal solar collector array tilt was 70°. Aperture areas between 12.8 and 22.4 m2 were found adequate for frequent utilization of a PCM volume up to 1 m3. Thus, the PCM heat storage capacity could be utilized at least 5.5 times a year. With a 22.4 m2 collector area and 5 PCM units of 200 L each, a solar fraction of 71% was calculated for the annual heat supply. Assuming full charge of a 0.6 m3 water tank and 2.8 m3 of sodium acetate trihydrate composite by electricity at the beginning of the year, the system could run 18 days without need for auxiliary heating. Thus, in periods without solar collector power available, generation maxima of wind power could be utilized. In conclusion, building heat demand could be covered close to 100% by renewable energy resources.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1108-1120
Number of pages13
JournalApplied Energy
Publication statusPublished - 15 May 2019


  • Numerical simulation
  • Passive House
  • Phase change material
  • Sodium acetate trihydrate
  • Solar heating system
  • Stable supercooling

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Energy(all)
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law
  • Building and Construction

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