Compact thermal energy storage: material development, system integration and process control - QC-089

Preferred Disciplines: PhD or postdoc, Mechanical engineering, Material engineering, Chemical engineering
Company: N/A
Project Length:  8 months
Desired start date: ASAP
Location: Sherbrooke, QC
No. of Positions: 1
Preferences: N/A

About the Company: 

The project is from a Canadian (province of Quebec) company active in the field of renewable energy and solar industrial heat and processes. The company develops and manufactures systems sold around the world.

Project Description:

Thermal energy storage is an important technology for renewable energy systems and for solar thermal systems in particular. In order to reach high solar fractions, it is necessary to store heat (or cold) efficiently for longer periods of time. Until now, little or no cost-effective compact storage technologies are available to do this, and it was concluded that a lack of suitable storage materials is the main bottleneck in thermal energy storage research.

Therefore, work has been started within the company to develop new storage approaches and develop methods for an effective integration of these materials in storage systems.

The performance of a thermal storage is bound by both physical and technical limits, while the market acceptance is also determined by economic boundary conditions. All three classes of boundary conditions are being investigated.


  • Identify the limitations being defined by the storage material characteristics and by the thermodynamic processes that determine the charging, storing and discharging behavior from the material.
  • Establish and describe the technical limits determined by the heat and mass transfer processes in the storage device as well as a classification of possible storage configurations.
  • Describe a set of application boundary conditions. Next to the principal conditions like charging and discharging temperature and power, more detailed conditions are being included, like target cost and environmental aspects. Competitive cost of the system (capital and operation) is of utmost importance in this project.
  • Document reliability issues, time degradation and main failure mechanisms


Research Objectives:


  • Material engineering: the first goal is to better understand the principles underlying the storage characteristics of materials and to use this knowledge to develop material with improved storage characteristics. The second goal is to highlight any dependency between the storage apparatus and the complete thermal system.
  • Test and characterization: unlike the present storage materials based on sensible heat storage, the characteristics of other storage materials based on phase change, sorption or thermochemical principles are not easy to determine. The main goal is to develop and test methods with which the parameters of a material can be measured accurately and reproducibly. A second goal is to better define of the testing procedures.
  • Numerical methods: the goal is to get an overview of the different numerical simulation methods that are available, at the chemical and thermodynamic level as well as at the system level.
  • Apparatus and components: the goal is to describe the methods with which a storage device composed of a storage material, a container and all the components for heat and mass transfer and control, can be optimally designed


  • Literature review, summary and state of the art identification
  • Model survey and model definition
  • Test bench design
  • Model experimentation and validation
  • Documentation and toolset elaboration

Expertise and Skills Needed:

  • Thermodynamics
  • Computer model and simulation
  • Material science and chemistry
  • Renewable energy market and technology
  • Prototyping and benchmarking
  • Experimental data collection
  • Troubleshooting
  • Team work
  • Communications skills

For more info or to apply to this applied research position, please

  1. Check your eligibility and find more information about open projects.
  2. Complete this webform. You will be asked to upload your CV. Remember to indicate the title of the project(s) you are interested in and obtain your professor’s approval to proceed!
  3. Interested students need to get the approval from their supervisor and send their CV along with a link to their supervisor’s university webpage by applying through the webform or directly to Simon Bousquet,