Rural depopulation is a worldwide fact and has a domino effect on medium and small cities, which act as a nucleus of reference for small towns. Moreover, the United Nations (UN) stressed that disparities between rural and urban areas are pronounced and still growing over time. Globally, people in rural areas lack access to modern energy services, which affects productivity, educational and health services, exacerbating poverty, among other things. Given this reality, the following research questions arise: how can we act to reverse this reality? Are there examples of transformation in rural contexts where community empowerment is a key strategy? This paper aims at describing the transformation process of a small rural municipality towards a sustainable development, in parallel to the activation of the local productivity that helps to eliminate the effects of rural depopulation. Therefore, the project ALMIA was established as an example of a sustainable village that is Almatret (Catalonia-Spain). The backbone of such project is the commitment to community empowerment, where the main results are the generation of networks with experts and researchers to help the municipality’s energy transition, the involvement of the local administration, the commitment to technological development, as well as the socio-community development. Moreover, the activities developed within the project ALMIA are aligned with the UNs Sustainable Development Goals, alignment that is analyzed in detail. Thus, this paper aims to further highlight existing sustainable development practices related to community empowerment in order to promote similar practices.
A clear gap was identified in the literature regarding the in-depth evaluation of scaling up thermal energy storage components. To cover such a gap, a new methodological approach was developed and applied to a novel latent thermal energy storage module. The purpose of this paper is to identify some key aspects to be considered when scaling up the module from lab-scale to full-scale using different performance indicators calculated in both charge and discharge. Different normalization methods were applied to allow an appropriate comparison of the results at both scales. As a result of the scaling up, the theoretical energy storage capacity increases by 52% and 145%, the average charging power increases by 21% and 94%, while the average discharging power decreases by 16% but increases by 36% when mass and volume normalization methods are used, respectively. When normalization by the surface area of heat transfer is used, all of the above performance indicators decrease, especially the average discharging power, which decreases by 49%. Moreover, energy performance in charge and discharge decreases by 17% and 15%, respectively. However, efficiencies related to charging, discharging, and round-trip processes are practically not affected by the scaling up.
European Researchers’ Nights are public events dedicated to bringing researchers closer to the public. They showcase the diversity of research and highlight the impact of research on our daily lives. The aim is also to motivate young people to embark on research careers. The events promote how researchers contribute to our society by displaying their work in an interactive and engaging forum.
Our HYBUILD project will be present at the R-EVOLUTION event organised by our partner NOBATEK-INEF4.
After two editions to discuss the design-construction links in 2018 and the Low-tech / High-tech opposition in 2019, R-EVOLUTION returns in 2021 with a new scale: zoom on energy systems, artificial intelligence and high-performance envelopes, these shadow heroes, who are now preparing their R-EVOLUTION of the invisible.
In the present paper, the numerical modeling of an innovative latent thermal energy storage unit, suitable for direct integration into the condenser or evaporator of a heat pump is presented. The Modelica language, in the Dymola environment, and TIL libraries were used for the development of a modular model, which is easily re-usable and adaptable to different configurations. Validation of the model was carried out using experimental data under different operating modes and it was subsequently used for the optimization of a design for charging and discharge. In particular, since the storage unit is made up of parallel channels for the heat transfer fluid, refrigerant, and phase change material, their number and distribution were changed to evaluate the effect on heat transfer performance.
A new journal article presenting HYBUILD outcomes has just been released in Applied Energy. This paper is led by our partner AIT, the Austrian Institute of Technology.
Heat pumps with a three-media refrigerant/phase change material (PCM) water heat exchanger (RPW-HEX), integrated in the hot superheated section after the compressor, have a promising potential for electric energy savings. The RPW-HEX operates as a desuperheater that stores the sensible energy provided by the hot gas during heating and cooling operation for later heat transfer to domestic hot water (DHW) storage devices. So far, such a system has not yet been implemented and analysed in an overall system suitable for heating, cooling and DHW generation. In the present work, the operation of a prototypical heat pump with integrated RPW-HEX connected to three artificial apartments, was demonstrated in the laboratory under controlled ambient conditions. For this purpose, two RPW-HEX modules with a total storage capacity of about 5 kWh were integrated into an R32 air-source heat pump with a heating power of about 7.7 kW at −10 ∘C ambient temperature and a feed water temperature of 45 ∘C. Technical feasibility and operation with rule-based control strategies have been successfully demonstrated for realistic use cases. Besides individual tests, the heat pump was operated over 48 hours with and without RPW-HEX at an ambient temperature of −2 ∘C, a feed water temperature for the heating system of 40 ∘C. Both systems, achieved the same average COP, but the system with RPW-HEX was able to provide a 10 K higher average feed water temperature for DHW generation compared to the system without RPW-HEX. For the same feed water temperatures for DHW generation, an enhancement of about 3.1% of the average COP can be expected with the current system. This is about 60% of the theoretically possible value. Furthermore, for a low feed water temperature for heating of about 32 ∘C at −2 ∘C, an enhancement of the average COP up to 9.4% can be expected for the analysed heating and DHW scenario with an improved design.
Phase change materials and slurries are
becoming key components in the energy mix of the future. Transitioning from a
society relying on carbon-based energy to one relying on renewable energies
will require coordinating energy demand with source availability.
A viable option to achieve this result is through thermal energy storage, as it is one of the most efficient ways to store energy, and phase change materials can help make thermal energy storage better adapted and more financially competitive.
The 13th IIR Conference on Phase-Change Materials and Slurries for Refrigeration and Air Conditioning provided an open international forum where academics and stakeholders from across the globe presented and discussed the latest research findings, developments and trends in the field.
Our partner University of Lleida, GREiA Research Group, Prof. Luisa F. Cabeza gave a keynote speech which allowed the project to gain visibility amongst the participants showing the effective use of phase change materials in the HYBUILD systems to support thermal energy storage integration with electric storage for improving the share of renewables and overall system efficiency.
Our partner CNR ITAE, Valeria Palomba, also presented a paper at the event entitled “Experimental evaluation of a heat pump-latent storage system for increasing renewable share of the residential stock“. Available here for download.
The Sustainable Places International conference is taking place in Rome, Italy and online (hybrid format) this year. HYBUILD will contribute to it through its Renewable Heating and Cooling workshop, involving several other collaborative EU research and innovation projects.