Ryszard Zwierzchowski, Olgierd Niemyjski, Marcin Wołowicz
The paper presents an analytical discussion of how to improve the energy efficiency of the steam cushion system operation for a Thermal Energy Storage (TES) tank. The EU’s green deal 2050 target policy requires an increase in the energy efficiency of energy production and use, as well as an increase in the share of renewable energy in the overall energy production balance. The use of energy-efficient TES is considered as one of the most important technologies to achieve the objectives of this EU policy. The analyses presented in the paper of energy-efficient operation of steam cushion (SC) systems were carried out by using operational data received from three District Heating Systems (DHSs) that supply heat and electricity to one of the largest cities in Poland and are equipped with the TES systems. These three analyzed TESs differ in capacities from 12,800 to 30,400 m3, tank diameters from 21 to 30 m and shell height from 37 to 48.2 m. The main purpose of using a steam cushion system in the TES tank is to protect the water stored in it against the absorption of oxygen from the surrounding atmospheric air through the surge chamber and safety valves located on the roof of the tank. The technical solutions presented here for the upper orifice for charging and discharging hot water into/from the tank and the suction pipe for circulating water allow to us achieve significant energy savings in the steam cushion systems. Both the upper orifice and the end of suction pipe are movable through the use of pontoons. Thanks to the use of this technical solution, a stable insulating water layer is created above the upper orifice in the upper part of the TES tank, where convective and turbulent transport of heat from the steam cushion space to the hot water stored in the tank is significantly limited. Ultimately, this reduces the heat flux by approximately 90% when compared to the classic technical solutions of steam cushion systems in TES tanks, i.e., for the upper orifice and circulation water pipe. The simplified analysis presented in the paper and comparison of its results with experimental data for heat flow from the steam cushion space to hot water stored in the upper part of the TES tank fully confirms the usefulness of the heat-flow models used.