Rock cavern as thermal energy storage
Abstract: In the fall of 2019, a comprehensive idea study was conducted on heat storage in two rock caverns located at Näsudden in Skelleftehamn and was part of the project course "Energiteknik, huvudkurs" at Luleå University of Technology. This idea study investigated the conditions of using waste heat from Boliden AB:s copper smeltery (Rönnskär) and storing this waste heat in two rock caverns and use them as seasonal thermal storage tanks, with the purpose of using the heat in the nearby district heating network, thus replacing some of the oil burned at Rönnskär. To investigate this, the authors of the idea study looked at two different storage cycles of seasonal storage and modeled this in ANSYS Fluent to simulate the heat storage and the heat losses. The results from this idea study showed promising results for using these caverns as heat storage and this work is therefore a continuation of the idea study. Since the study provided a good understanding of the conditions for seasonal storage, some questions arose about how the rock caverns will behave during an intermittent operation, which is the planned mode of operating the caverns in case of deployment. In this thesis, intermittent operation of these caverns are explored and how this effects the temperature in the caverns and its surrondings, the charge/discharge speed, how insulated walls affect the operation and how much oil is replaced. At the beginning of this project a review of the idea study and similar projects was done to gain deeper knowledge about the subject, but also to get a wider grasp on the different problems that could arise during the thesis. Relevant data for the caverns was collected and acquired to get a deeper understanding of its geometry, layout and what kind of modifications are really possible. Further data from the district heating networks of Boliden AB and Skellefteå Kraft was acquired. The available waste heat from Rönnskär was examined and used to calculate the chargeable energy by hour for the caverns, with the limits of Skelleftehamn district heating network in mind. By examining the different steam boiler patterns, the discharge pattern could be calculated. Using CFD, the unknown global heat transfer coefficient between the cavern water and the cavern wall can be determined. This data was then used with a set of differential equations to model the behavior of the caverns in Simulink. This allowed to determine the behavior for the caverns during normal operation, such as how the heat losses evolve, how the temperatures fluctuate, how much heat the caverns can be charged with and how much they can discharge. The results from the simulations showed that the caverns discharge a higher amount of energy when operating intermittently than when operating seasonally. Depending on how the caverns are utilized, different amounts of discharged energy are obtained. This range from 2224,7MWh to 7846,1MWh for the different discharging patterns. The usage also affects the efficiency of the cavern giving the efficiency a range between 19% to 53,9%. The heat losses range from around 20kW to 1000kW, depending on operation. Insulating the cavern walls reduces on average the heat losses by a factor of 5. Operating the caverns intermittently would on average remove a total of 29 ktonne CO2 and 88,74 tonne NOx for its expected lifespan of 30 years. Economically, the rock caverns have good economic potential as they would save about 80 million SEK during their lifetime just from buying less oil.
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