Dr. Carlos Romero, director and principal research scientist of Lehigh University's Energy Research Center (ERC), and mechanical engineering and mechanics professor Sudhakar Neti are working to create more effective air cooled condensers that are used in power generation, especially in warmer climates. Their recently-funded NSF proposal, entitled "Heat-Pipe PCM Based Cool Storage for ACC Systems", is part of the ARPA-e's Advanced Research program in Dry Cooling. On this project, Romero and Neti are partnering with Lancaster, PA-based Advanced Cooling Technologies, Inc.
The goal of the project is to improve the design of ACCs with heat rejection management using thermal energy storage that employs phase change materials (PCM). This concept would allow shifting of energy rejection to more amenable lower ambient temperatures at nighttime.
Romero and Neti have extensive experience with thermal energy storage, PCMs and encapsulated PCMs, as well with power generation plants and the associated equipment. As part of this project, the Lehigh team will perform research related to this application -- energy storage capacity, thermal cycling performance, tunability and material compatibility.
Additionally, the Lehigh team will participate in the design and construction of PCM demonstration units and will provide analysis on heat-rate benefit and associated costs, as well as technical and marketing consultation.