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Supporting industry with thermal systems

Publication Date: 
Friday, December 17, 2021

The CSIR thermal laboratory

The CSIR Energy Research Centre, in partnership with the South African National Energy Development Institute, is establishing a thermal system support programme for the South African industry. Through thermo-fluid process optimisation and targeted technology development, the programme will assist industry to reduce the energy costs and carbon emissions associated with process heating systems.

Contact Person

Peter Klein

pklein@csir.co.za

The CSIR thermal laboratory

The CSIR Energy Research Centre, in partnership with the South African National Energy Development Institute, is establishing a thermal system support programme for the South African industry. Through thermo-fluid process optimisation and targeted technology development, the programme will assist industry to reduce the energy costs and carbon emissions associated with process heating systems.

The CSIR already has a range of equipment and test capabilities available, including materials characterisation equipment, a low-pressure steam boiler supply and distribution system, and a lab-scale thermal energy storage test facility. Furthermore, over the next five years, the CSIR will invest in a a solar thermal testing and training facility, a heat pump testing facility, a high-temperature flue gas generator, a pilot-scale thermal energy storage test facility, a thermal oil test loop, as well as refrigeration equipment for testing different process cooling technologies and thermal energy storage. 

The first phase of the laboratory will focus on the initial development of the solar thermal and heat pump testing facility. An initial experiment will compare the long-term performance of a solar thermal system to a heat pump. As part of this first experiment, test equipment that can be subsequently expanded upon in future years to form a fully functional SHIP and heat pump testing and training facility will be installed.

The CSIR has already conducted technology development into an open sorption Zeolite thermal energy storage (currently at a technology readiness level 5), as well as magnetite ore thermal energy storage, advanced heat pumps and low-temperature phase change materials (at lower technology readiness levels). These technologies provide a strong foundation for initial technology development within the laboratory.

 A non-exhaustive list of technologies that fall into the field of interest includes:

 

Solar thermal

  • Performance testing of flat plate collectors for residential and industrial water heating up to about 70°C
  • Performance testing of evacuated tube collectors for residential and industrial water heating from 70°C to about 150°C
  • Performance testing of concentrating and tracking solar collectors for industrial heat between 100°C and 400°C (possible collaborative project under H2020 funding)

 

Heat pumps

  • Vapour-compression heat pumps
  • Absorption heat pumps
  • Absorption heat transformers 
  • Reversible Stirling engine heat pumps
  • Advanced heat pumps for steam production

 

Thermal energy storage

  • Open sorption thermal energy storage using Zeolites and Metal-Organic Frameworks
  • High-temperature sensible heat storage in ceramics
  • High-temperature heat storage using magnetite ore
  • Low-temperature Phase Change Materials for cold storage

Waste heat recovery

  • Heat engines to convert waste heat streams into electricity
  • Advanced high-temperature ceramic heat recuperators and regenerators
  • Ceramic rotary wheel recuperators
  • Desiccant heat wheels
  • Low temperature technologies, such as grey water waste heat exchangers

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