The domestic thermal battery that will free millions of homes from gas

The new promise of the energy transition comes from the Netherlands. A group of researchers from the Eindhoven University of Technology and the Dutch research organization TNO have created a innovative domestic thermal battery. An ecological and economical solution that could free millions of homes from using gas for heating in winter.

The invention received a €7 million grant from the EU’s Horizon program in 2019; resources that the researchers, along with the other partners in the HEAT-INSYDE consortium, have used to further develop the technology. Now they are planning the first real-world tests.


How does the thermal battery work?

The HEAT-INSYDE battery uses two basic ingredients: water vapor and salt..

When these components meet, the water bonds with the salt, creating new crystals and releasing heat in the process. By returning thermal energy to the system, water and salt are separated, and as long as they remain separated, the energy supplied can be stored without loss.

These days, the team has built the first prototype: a sort of large cabinet made up of 15 pairs of “boxes”, each of which represents a thermal battery. The structure has a total storage capacity of over 200 kWh. A value, explains Professor Olaf Adan, project leader, “equivalent to two fully charged Teslas“.

We have optimized the previous version in countless aspects. We redesigned individual components, like the evaporator and heat exchanger, making better use of space and other materials. The unit also includes a measurement and control system to optimize energy management.

Olaf Adam

The establishment is large, but the individual units (the boxes) have been specially designed to be modular and offer all kinds of design possibilities. Including home and user-oriented systems.

The first practical tests will begin at the end of the year, with the installation of pilot batteries of around 70 kWh in two houses in Eindhoven, one in Poland and one in France. But the consortium is also considering thermal storage in office buildings, greenhouses, electric buses or luxury boats.

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