Thermal energy tanks are reservoirs for storing energy in chilled water district cooling systems. Water has a better thermal transfer than air. Thermal energy storage has been around for decades and continues to prove an efficient and economical storage method.
TES tanks are versatile and can be used in large places like hospitals, airports, government facilities, military bases, natural gas power plants, colleges and universities, banks, and data centers.
Pittsburg Tank & Tower Group can build thermal energy storage tanks that range from as small as 35,000 gallons to as large as 10 million gallons. Storage capacity depends on the system performance criteria. We’ve built TES tanks for a wide variety of fields, including food processing, chemicals, oil and gas, and energy.
We offer custom designs to meet any project’s needs. Our turnkey design includes in-house engineering services, design, fabrication, and erection of the foundation, tank, internal piping system, exterior insulation, and coatings.
Just how does thermal energy work?
Much like a battery, thermal energy storage charges a structure’s air conditioning system. Thermal energy storage tanks take advantage of off-peak energy rates. Water is cooled during hours off-peak periods when there are lower energy rates. That water is then stored in the tank until it’s used to cool facilities during peak hours. This helps reduce overall electric usage by shifting a cooling system’s power consumption from daytime to nighttime.
You can also think of thermal energy as an ice maker. Most modern refrigerators come with ice makers. If working, the ice makers will produce ice throughout the day. When anyone needs ice for their beverage or to soothe an injury, they can readily get some out of the freezer. Thermal energy tanks operate under the same principle, but they cool water when it’s less busy and then use that same water to cool buildings when it is busy.
Welded steel chilled water storage tanks work well for locations with higher cooling loads. That helps owners avoid the cost of installing a new cooling tower, chiller, and pump. The steel tanks allow more routine maintenance and maximize plant uptime, helping increase the cooling system’s efficiency and lifespan.
Thermal energy tanks are equipped with diffusers at the top and bottom of the tank. The diffusers let in and release water. Warm water either enters or exits from the top. At the same time, denser water circulates at the bottom. The middle point of the water is called thermocline – which is a narrow water transition layer.
Once the distribution phase reaches its final stages, most of tank water is warm. During recharge and cooling, the warm water exits via the top diffuser to reach the cooling plant. The water then cycles back into the tank via the bottom diffuser as chilled water, and is available to use in the cooling system.
Pittsburg’s highly knowledgeable staff can help you determine just what your thermal energy storage needs are and deliver a high-quality tank that will suit those needs.
Multiple thermal energy storage tanks designed by Pittsburg are in use – the oldest dating back to 1995. We use stainless steel, carbon steel, or polyvinyl chloride (PVC) internal pipe diffusers.
Pittsburg can make accommodations for special design considerations, depending on flow rates, ton-hour storage, and other service requirements.