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Heat Storage Tank

Post in 'The Boiler Room - Wood Boilers and Furnaces' started by Mike in Maine, May 8, 2008.

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  1. Mike in Maine

    Mike in Maine New Member

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    It seems one of several common threads to discussions and answers on good levels of efficiency, involve adequately sized Hot Water Storage Tanks.
    I would like to know if there any out there that aren't 8' or more around as I must place it in an 8' wide breezeway area(no Basement) Are there any elongated or vertical versions to set up with a Greenfire, Benjamin, Econoburn, or EKO (confused and undecided as of yet)?? Will a more traditional technology boiler come close to being as effective, as long as a large enough storage tank is put in also? what size tank with a 1800 sq ft hot water baseboard house to handle heat and hot water or just hot domestic water?
    Wood Boiler Novice, trying to comprehend in Maine

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  2. WRVERMONT

    WRVERMONT New Member

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    Hello mike,
    There are tanks that have narrower diameters. Without knowing the details of your heating requirements, I would say to use at least 500 gallon storage. A little larger 600 or so would be even nicer. There are some people using propane tanks for storage or a custom welded tank. You can buy a pre-manufactured thermal storage tank that measures 58" diameter by 60" high (533gals.) Couple this with 80,000 to 100,000btu gasification boiler and you should be pretty good. Good Luck with your system.
  3. jebatty

    jebatty Minister of Fire

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    Might be a little large for you. I have a 3'D x 19'L propane tank, 1000 gal, for storage. Not easy to move anywhere, weight > 2000 lbs.
  4. Nofossil

    Nofossil Moderator Emeritus

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    General rule of thumb for storage: bigger is better. At a minimum, you want enough to carry you from one fire to the next. I build my fires in the evening, so I need to cover my heating needs from about 3:00 AM until 6:00 the next evening. To figure it out, you need to do some level of heat loss analysis on your house and figure out how many BTUs you would expect to need over that period (300,000 in my case). Then, figure out the peak planned tank temperature (170 in my case) and the lowest usable water temperature (120 in my case). A BTU heats one pound of water by one degree, and there's 8.3 pounds in a gallon. Divide your heat storage requirement by the temperature difference and again by 8.3. That will give you the minimum tank size that you want: 300,000/50/8.3 = 723 gallons in my case. Again, bigger is better.

    Another way to look at it is how long it will take your boiler to heat the tank. My boiler can raise the tank temperature by about ten degrees per hour, so getting the 50 degree temperature rise takes about five hours of flat-out burning.

    Storage will probably make any boiler more efficient, since it allows it to operate at higher temperatures. However, even the best conventional boiler operated carefully under ideal conditions does not approach the efficiency of a gasifier.
  5. Mike in Maine

    Mike in Maine New Member

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    Found a collapsible HW heat storage/exchanger manufacturer, STSS, with sizes to fit the limited space with a taller version.!!!

    http://www.stsscoinc.com/specification_TankSizes.aspx

    Have had folks finally responding and pushing Benjamin $4500 (simple old school),

    Greenfire ~$5000, (mentions refractory and 100% combustion)

    Biasi 3 pass $3400... mentions secondary gas burning (not quite "gasification" I gather unless air is forced into a chamber?)

    The Econoburn has been noted as having a shorter burn cycle and problems heating storage water here in postings...

    The area Tarm dealer was outrageously high$ for the total package $22K...

    Not familiar with the EKO cost$ can you help me out with a ballpark figure, benefits ... ?????

    Closing in on answers on whether burn time or high temp is king with WELCOME help
    Thanks
    dodging deadly Black Flies...
  6. free75degrees

    free75degrees New Member

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    That sounds high for the Tarm. I think they are quoting you a lot of extras plus instalation and it still sounds high. To be fair, if the other quotes you had are just for the boiler purchase, the Tarm boiler runs somewhere in the 7k ballpark (depends on model and sale(s)).
  7. chuck172

    chuck172 Minister of Fire

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    The most recent price quote from tarm:
    List pricing SoloPlus 40
    boiler package $8,150.00
    Tank package 6,089.00
    Total $14,239.00

    That includes all the what they consider accessories.
  8. jebatty

    jebatty Minister of Fire

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    And there are tank options, although the collapsible has its advantage in getting into a limited access place. My 1000 gal was $850, and others have quoted even lower prices, although some quote higher. Just look around for options.
  9. MrEd

    MrEd New Member

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    Jebatty - a question for you. What type of storage tank are you using with your Tarm...I have been reading thru 100's and 100's of posts trying to get up to speed on all this, but I am pretty sure you said you have 3 used oil tanks and a plate exchanger setup...but elsewhere I think you mentioned a pressurized 1000 gallon propane tank? If you did have 3 used oil tanks, and then switched to the pressurized tank - can you explain why you changed? Did the three oil tanks not work adequately?
  10. AndrewChurchill

    AndrewChurchill Minister of Fire

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    I'm installing a Harman PB105 pellet boiler would it make any sense to install a heat storage tank?
  11. koch

    koch New Member

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    I've been reading lots of the threads within this forum and find them very helpful. I have just ordered a Greenfire 130 that I will use to heat both the house and swimming pool. In all of the threads no one has mentioned dry thermal storage. I have been thinking that I could use compacted gravel to store heat. Based on some calculations I did last night I should be able to store ~350K btu in 5’ by 8’ by 4’ space with a 40 degree temperature change, about the same as 1000 gallons of water. My idea for the Hx is 250’ of 3/4 pex looping within the mass. Has anyone heard of someone using gravel as a thermal mass?
  12. free75degrees

    free75degrees New Member

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    That reminds me of the project up in Canada where they are pumping an entire summer's worth of solar energy down into the earth then pumping it back out for heat in the winter.

    How compacted will the gravel be? Will there be air spaces? Are you planning on insulating the volume of gravel?

    One of the nice things about water is that heat can spread around by convection, which you will lose with a solid. That doesn't mean it won't work though. It would be great if it did due to the simplicity.
  13. jebatty

    jebatty Minister of Fire

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    I bought the Tarm to heat my shop in replacing a worn out OWB. I was a newbie from the get-go on this Tarm project, never done anything like it before. It's installed in the shop. I read on this forum about the high desirability for storage, but with all the money into the Tarm I did not want to put more into the STSS tank setup, not knowing how well (or not) the Tarm would work. Yet I was pretty sure that storage was the right way to go. I got a deal on 3 - 275 gal used heating oil tanks (all three for $125) which I also installed in the shop and plumbed them in series.

    Let me say right away that the Tarm throws out lots of btu's, and keeping it in high burn for a full load burn and more with a way to store the btu's is important. Once you use a gasifier you will realize the great efficiency gained from full burns. The gasifier will work OK without doing this, but unless you have a way to store or use the extra heat, you will want to get storage as soon as you can, and generally, the more the better.

    For open storage, the 3 tanks worked fine, but after leaving air space and dealing with some plumbing issues with a series setup, and more reading on this forum, I decided that closed loop, pressurized storage, had real advantages. By this time I was ready to pay more to get that storage, and I began the search for a used LP tank, finally finding one in good condition which I bought from a local LP dealer for $850 delivered.

    Why the change? 1) I realized that I could use more than the approx 725 gal of storage with the steel oil tanks, so I aimed for a 1000 gal tank; 2) I never completely solved, although I'm sure it could be solved, the plumbing issues with the 3 tanks in series, and daily attention to balancing the water volume was needed (tanks 1 and 2 would build-up water/air vapor, forcing more and more water into tank 3, which ultimately would overflow; every day I would have to vent tanks 1 and 2 and run the circ pump to re-fill these thanks to prevent this, got to be a hassle); 3) through lack of knowledge never balanced the pH in the steel storage tanks and I got lots of rust; 4) really wanted a storage system I could largely ignore, maintenance-free, once it was in operation.

    I'm very happy with the change. The storage now is maintenance-free. I added boiler chemical to raise the pH, scavenge O2 and provided some buffer capacity, and now there is no rust at all. I draw a tiny bit of water occasionally, clear as can be, and test the pH just to make sure. I used a plate hx with the old tanks and continue to use it with the new, in part because the plumbing was easiest without pulling it out and in part because I have an antifreeze solution in the Tarm and for now I want the added safety of the antifreeze. We like to go for a week or two in winter and I do not want to take any chance of the Tarm freezing up. I will have to deal with this, because now I can't let the LP tank freeze up either. That will be a project for next fall.

    Don't try to run any system with steel without getting the pH into the 7.5 and 9 range. Acid hits steel very hard. With a plate hx and a used tank, get a high temp water filter or screen to catch any crud that might plug the hx. Plump any parts that may need maintenance with isolation valves so the parts can be removed easily.

    This project was challenging for a newbie, but my nature tells me to accept any challenge. It was really a fun project, and the results were incredibly satisfying. I have become a passionate advocate of wood gasification technology for home, shop and small business heating needs, and have made several presentations at local business group meetings.
  14. koch

    koch New Member

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    I am going to compact the gravel with a hand tamper, and use 2 inch foam insulation on all sides. I hope that if there is enough pex runs the loss of convection will not be a problem. I am still just thinking it through as was hoping that someone might have already tried this methiod.
  15. free75degrees

    free75degrees New Member

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    I just looked up some specific heat capacity values:
    water: 4.18 MJ/m3K
    quartz: 2.13 MJ/m3K
    concrete: 1.93 MJ/m3K

    Specific heat capacity is the amount of energy to raise a given amount of material by 1 degree. This is important because it tells us how much material we need in a tank to hold a given amount of energy. I couldn't find the capacity of gravel, but assuming zero air space it should be close to quartz and concrete. Basically water is about twice as good as gravel with no air spaces. However, it would be impossible to have no air spaces. Air spaces are not only bad for heat capacity, but also for heat transfer, so getting rid of air will be very important. If you could totally eliminate the air and get enough pex spread around the volume of concrete to account for the lack of convection, then you would need roughly twice as much volume. If you want to eliminate water, you might be better of using solid concrete. It would be a lot of concrete but i think it would work (it would still need twice the volume as the water).
  16. koch

    koch New Member

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    I found three properties for "Earth, Coarse Gravelly" Engineering Heat Transfer, Karlekar, West Publishing 1977 that I think are important;

    Specific Heat - 0.44 Btu/lb F
    Thermal Conductivity - .30 Btu/hr ft F
    Density -128 lb/Cubic Ft

    As compared to water at 140 F;

    Specific Heat - 0.9994 Btu/lb F
    Thermal Conductivity - .376 Btu/hr ft F
    Density -61.5 lb/Cubic Ft

    Gravel has less then half the Specific Heat of water .44 vs .9994 but is two times dense 128 vs 61.5 so for the same volume of gravel you get just about the same heat storage per degree of temperature change, .44 * 128 = 56.3 BTU/Cubic Ft F vs .9994 * 61.5 = 61.4 Btu/ Cubic ft F. The two materials have similar Conductivity but you will not get the convection that water gives you....

    I think that for the price on eight yards of gravel a few sheets of 2 inch foam and 250 feet of pex, I should be able to store just about the same amount of heat as a 1000 gallon system.
  17. Willman

    Willman Minister of Fire

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    What size do you think would work best ? I am assuming you mean a crushed stone graded to size and not pit run. Are you from the Sabattus area ? There is an Oak Hill there.
  18. free75degrees

    free75degrees New Member

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    This would be really cool if it works. If so I will be mad that I didn't do it too. You may have already considered this, but I would also make sure the foam is suitable for long periods in the earth with moisture exposure. Also, I am guessing that the reason the heat capacity quoted in that book is so high is because they figure the earth has some water content. Do they mention anything about that?
  19. koch

    koch New Member

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    The chart I found the values for gravel did not reference a moisture content but it did have specific heat for a wide range of material from
    Asbestos to Clay to Ice to Plate Glass and Silk to name a few. I was thinking I'd get gravel with 3/4 aggregate, the type used for driveways and road beds because I need some for my driveway anyway.

    I'd use 2 inch insulation that is rated for underground, the type you put on the outside of a foundation. I have an old farm house that has a brick arch way that holds up the fireplace, the arch is 5' by 8' and about 6' high, thus the size of my pile of gravel.

    I do live close to Sabattus, Topsham in a part of town that was once known as Oak Hill. When we bought the farm it came with a old sign "OAK HILL FARM" thus the name. I'll post a picture sometime as the sign is just over the door to my wood shed where I hope to install my Greenfire very soon!!!
  20. leaddog

    leaddog Minister of Fire

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    i'd think about adding more than 2in of insulation. I would at least double that and triple would be better. It would be hard to add latter and you don't want to loose all those btu's from your storage. The reason for STORAGE is to store the heat and use it when you want. The more insulation the better and you will still lose some.
    leaddog
  21. Vtgent49

    Vtgent49 New Member

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    Well, I have to admit to building a gravel heat storage system in about 1978 or so. It was intended to store heat removed from a solar room by pumping the hot ceiling air down and thru the rocks. The glass portion was only 16x7 feet, and the rock storage was about 8' by 12 by 20 feet. Insulation was 2" of foam.

    Basically, it didn't work at all. The fans ran all summer, but hardly budged the rock temps. Too much air space, too great heat loss, noisy blowers, and not really enough of a delta T using hot room air. We basically turned it off and forgot about it. It did however qualify the whole addition for a very generous tax credit, 5 or 6000.$ if I recall correctly, which in the 70's was enough to pay for the entire addition.

    There are some people using pex to heat packed sand below their slabs. I'd look in the radiant heat websites, and you might find these designs. Heat transfer efficiency, both in and out, seems to be the key to the usefulness of a storage system.
  22. free75degrees

    free75degrees New Member

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    From your description it sounds like you were using air to transfer the heat. Air has both very low heat capacity and very poor heat conductivity which may explain why you were not able to heat the earth. Using water might work much better.
  23. tom in maine

    tom in maine Minister of Fire

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    I think the concept is great to use gravel or even sand as a storage medium. Where there is a problem is in the time lag for inputing and extracting heat.
    Water convects around the heat exchanger coils and moves a fair bit of heat. In a solid material like gravel, there is no convection and the heat exchangers would have to be larger. Much larger. One possible way around this is to bury a big tank in the gravel, which negates the concept somewhat.
    If you think about a radiant floor, where there is very intimate contact between the PEX tubing (or copper from years ago!) and the concrete, the heat exchange rate is about 30 btu's per lineal foot. By that measure, a 180' copper HX might move 5400 btu's with a 20 degree delta T. It would be more, but not the 100K btus that you might want in a boiler input.

    Will be fun to try, but I suspect the laws of physics are going to nip you.

    Water is a great medium for heat storage, not perfect, but quite good.
  24. koch

    koch New Member

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    I am thinking that I might be able to get around lower conduction and hx area problems by adding the aluminium plates/fines that are designed for radiant floor retro fits. It will conduct the heat way from and then back to the pex, thus making the hx work much better.

    Still on the fence about trying this but might try a prototype test before I add 8 yards of gravel in my basement...
  25. hkazemi

    hkazemi New Member

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    The Canadian project mentioned in a previous post is the Drake Landing Solar Community, using BTES, http://www.dlsc.ca/borehole.htm . This is one version of a seasonal thermal store (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Seasonal_thermal_store ), and a similar, lower temperature concept is an annualized geo solar storage, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Annualized_geothermal_solar , http://www.greenershelter.org/index.php?pg=2

    From the ideas I seen so far, I think the best solution is to dedicate a basement or sub-basement space to thermal storage using wet sand. The space should be waterproofed from outside water infiltration (possibly Platon, http://www.systemplaton.com/ and/or Drylok and/or RadonSeal and/or exterior foundation tiling/drains), and insulated as well (polyisocyanurate and a radiant barrier?). In a new house, it would be a sub-basement, possibly made using ICFs, pre-fabricated concrete, or tilt-up construction, with 8 to 12 foot walls. For an existing house, a new 2-3 car garage with a waterproofed, insulated basement under it could work. Appropriately spaced PEX or pex-al-pex (PAP) would probably be the most cost effective solution for heat exchanging. A portion might be dedicated to cold storage, by circulating an antifreeze solution to the outside air in the winter. The reason for wet sand is to increase the thermal performance (better heat conductivity and use of storage volume) (.19 BTU/lb.°F for dry sand at ~ 110 lbs/cu.ft.) (http://2the4.net/heat1.htm ). Water itself would be 1 BTU/lb.°F and 62.4 lbs/cu.ft., but that would need an actual tank, tank liner and a roof/cover capable of spanning the full width of the basement and supporting everything above, while wet sand could have a poured floor above it. If one did want to make the subbasement not have a poured slab ceiling and instead have a real span, pre-fab/pre-stressed concrete spans could be used, or products like Insul-Deck, http://www.insul-deck.org/ , or Quad-deck, http://www.quadlock.com/products/quad-deck.htm .

    I do not know whether it makes more sense to simply have wet sand (damp), or saturated sand. The main points of using wet/damp sand are it can't easily all leak away, should need less maintenance than an actual water tank, and could use material already existing at the construction site that might otherwise need to be hauled away.

    In areas where the soil is sand or gravel at sub-basement depths (i.e. between 7 to 20 feet below the surface), the area could be excavated, basement floor and walls created, waterproofed, and insulated, and then the sand/gravel backfilled into this space in layers along with PEX/PAP coils for heat exchangers. Areas with deep clay might do better by bringing sand from elsewhere, although bringing in sand might cost around $10/ton (prices I saw online).

    In order to control the moisture level in the sand, a water refill/topping off mechanism would be appropriate. This could be achieved by simply running a loop of perforated PEX at the top of the thermal store. The other half of moisture control would be a way to drain excess moisture from the store, near the bottom. I think it would also make sense to leave a corner of the sub-basement, say 6x6 feet not filled in, as an access point to the lowest level of the basement and to a sump pump that might be necessary to drain away any infiltrating ground water from high water table events and to handle water collected by exterior perimeter drains. One would want to make sure that the ceiling of this sub-basement was also well sealed and insulated to prevent heat and water vapor and moisture from escaping into the house above when it wasn't wanted.

    Note: while at this stage of construction, one could plan for a rain water cistern that could collect roof-runoff for non-potable uses like yard watering and toilet flushing. Properly placed, this same cistern could also be refilled from the perimeter drains.

    Thermal sensors positioned throughout the thermal store would be a asset to knowing how much it has stored. I think waterproofed versions of the DS18S20 sensors discussed at http://www.hearth.com/econtent/index.php/forums/viewthread/17569/ might be a good choice.
    DS18S20 specifications: http://www.maxim-ic.com/quick_view2.cfm/qv_pk/2815
    DS18S20 with Linux: http://www.digitemp.com/building.shtml
    DS18S20+-ND pricing: http://www.digikey.com/scripts/us/dksus.dll?Detail?name=DS18S20 -ND

    This page has a good description of sub-basement thermal storage, and is one of the sources for some of the ideas above (I had thought about large-scale water storage, however the large-scale solid thermal mass ideas here are also good). While this page primarily focuses on an air tube based system, it would be readily adapted to a fluid circulation system. Fluid circulation avoids potential air contamination problems, but adds complexity by needing additional heat exchangers.
    http://mb-soft.com/solar/subbase.html

    More information related to the thermal storage - Underground A/C Alternate System - http://mb-soft.com/solar/alternwa.htm
    More information related to the thermal storage: http://mb-soft.com/solar/intake.html

    One recently published book where DIY homeowner Kenneth Clive created a small ~6 foot cube rock storage system for his solar collector is 'Build Your Solar Heating System', http://www.amazon.com/Build-Your-Solar-Heating-System/dp/0975423622 .

    This article published in 1978 by Steve Eckhoff and Martin Okos, Department of Agricultural Engineering, Purdue University also covers thermal storage ideas: http://www.ces.purdue.edu/extmedia/ae/ae-89.html
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