Design of Phase-Change Thermal Storage Device in a Heat Pump for Building Electric Peak Load Shaving: Preprint

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaper


Replacing carbon-intensive fossil fuel heating systems with electric heat pumps powered by renewables is a promising approach to decarbonize the building sector. However, one of the technical barriers of this approach is the large scale of heat demand, which will put excessive stress on the electricity grid. Integrating thermal energy storage (TES) into the heating systems can help alleviate this problem, by shifting thermal load and thus shaving peaks in the building electric load. Therefore, it is critical to understand how to design a thermal storage device in a heat pump for peak load shaving. In this study, we developed a numerical model for a cascaded vapor compression heat pump system integrating a phase change thermal storage device. This novel system can control the net thermal charging and discharging rate of the TES independently from the building's thermal load, which allows for precise control of electric power use. In the current study, we controlled the system to shave building electric peak load during a cold winter morning, and to charge TES during the relatively warm afternoon while still providing space heating. We used the model to evaluate the system performance with and without peak shaving. We also investigated the effect of PCM transition Tt on the peak reduction and electric energy saving potentials. The results show that peak shaving scheme effectively reduces the peak electric power consumption during a predefined discharge time window. When comparing to the no shaving case, for PCM Tt = 10 degrees C, the peak electric load reduction is 23.5%. When comparing to an air-source heat pump with back up electric heater, as Tt increases from 0 to 20 degrees C, the peak reduction increases from 46.1% to 50.9%. Integrating PCM Tt = 10 degrees C with peak shaving leads to the 45.5% of electric energy saving, which is the highest among the three transition temperatures.
Original languageAmerican English
Number of pages13
StatePublished - 2022
Event19th International Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Conference - West Lafayette, Indiana
Duration: 10 Jul 202214 Jul 2022


Conference19th International Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Conference
CityWest Lafayette, Indiana

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/CP-5500-82660


  • electric energy saving
  • heat pump
  • PCM heat exchanger
  • peak load shaving
  • thermal energy storage


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