2023-2024 Challenge 1st Place – Embry–Riddle Aeronautical University

Team Members:

Jared Williams – Undergraduate in Mechanical Engineering

Gianluca Borgese – Undergraduate in Mechanical Engineering

Martin Rosales – Undergraduate in Mechanical Engineering

Spencer Marinac – Undergraduate in Mechanical Engineering

School: Embry–Riddle Aeronautical University

Challenge: Keepin’ it Cool (or Hot)

Problem Definition: This challenge focuses on developing an innovative solution for thermal energy storage for buildings to optimize energy utilization, enhance sustainability, and increase resilience. The solutions could involve (but are not limited to) integration of materials, systems, and controls for the storage and release of energy.

Project Title: Energy Save Solution: Mini-Split Thermal Energy Storage System

Solution: Shifting towards a predominantly renewable energy grid is pivotal for decarbonization and sustainability. An increase in energy storage capability is needed to combat the intermittent nature of renewable energy sources. In the building sector, thermal loads consume a significant amount of electricity through heating ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) equipment. Electrochemical batteries are the most common form of energy storage used on the grid today. A slightly less utilized variety of energy storage is thermal energy storage (TES). TES has the advantage of being vastly more price competitive compared to electro-chemical battery storage. This endeavor focuses on implementing thermal energy storage with existing HVAC systems, specifically mini split style heat pumps. Our team designed a modular TES system that works in tandem with a variety of mini split heat pumps without modifying the unit. This TES design allows for rapid deployment of the system into the consumer market space. Once installed the system reduces customers’ energy consumption from the grid at peak hours, decreasing their electricity bills. Additionally, this system adds resiliency to consumers’ homes. In the event of a power outage the home can be conditioned without grid power for a fixed amount of time depending on the space’s thermal loads.