Sorption heat storage for long-term low-temperature applications: A review on the advancements at material and prototype scale

L. Scapino, H.A. Zondag, J. Van Bael, J. Diriken, C.C.M. Rindt

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Sorption heat storage has the potential to store large amounts of thermal energy from renewables and other distributed energy sources. This article provides an overview on the recent advancements on long-term sorption heat storage at material- and prototype- scales. The focus is on applications requiring heat within a temperature range of 30–150 °C such as space heating, domestic hot water production, and some industrial processes.

At material level, emphasis is put on solid/gas reactions with water as sorbate. In particular, salt hydrates, adsorbents, and recent advancements on composite materials are reviewed. Most of the investigated salt hydrates comply with requirements such as safety and availability at low cost. However, hydrothermal stability issues such as deliquescence and decomposition at certain operating conditions make their utilization in a pure form challenging. Adsorbents are more hydrothermally stable but have lower energy densities and higher prices. Composite materials are investigated to reduce hydrothermal instabilities while achieving acceptable energy densities and material costs.

At prototype-scale, the article provides an updated review on system prototypes based on the reviewed materials. Both open and closed system layouts are addressed, together with the main design issues such as heat and mass transfer in the reactors and materials corrosion resistance. Especially for open systems, the focus is on pure adsorbents rather than salt hydrates as active materials due to their better stability. However, high material costs and desorption temperatures, coupled with lower energy densities at typical system operating conditions, decrease their commercial attractiveness. Among the main conclusions, the implementation within the scientific community of common key performance indicators is suggested together with the inclusion of economic aspects already at material-scale investigations.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)920-948
Number of pages29
JournalApplied Energy
Publication statusPublished - 15 Mar 2017


  • Energy efficiency
  • Long-term energy storage
  • Review
  • Solid sorption
  • Sorption heat storage


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