Thermal energy storages with thermosyphon natural convection heat exchangers have been used in solar water heating systems as a means of increasing tank stratification and eliminating the need for a second circulation pump. However, if the storage system is not carefully designed, under adverse pressure conditions, reverse thermosyphoning can result in increased thermal losses from the storage and reduced thermal performance of the system. To investigate this phenomenon, tests were conducted on a single tank and multi-tank thermal storage under controlled laboratory conditions. Energy storage rates and temperature profiles were experimentally measured during charge periods, and the effects of reverse thermosyphoning were quantified. A further aspect of this study was to empirically derive performance characteristics and to develop numerical models to predict the performance of the heat exchanger during reverse thermosyphon operation, and to quantify the relative magnitude of these effects on the energy stored during typical day-long charge periods. Results of this study show that the magnitude of the reverse flow rate depends on the pressure drop characteristics of the heat exchange loop, the system temperatures and the geometry of the heat exchanger and storage tank. In addition, the results show that in the case of a multi-tank thermal storage, the carry over of energy to the downstream thermal energy storages depend on the effectiveness of the exchangers used in the system.

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