Role of heat pipes in improving the hydrogen charging rate in a metal hydride storage tank

Liu, Yuzhu
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University of Delaware
Metal hydrides can store hydrogen at high volumetric efficiencies. As the process of charging hydrogen into a metal powder to form its hydride is exothermic, the heat released must be removed quickly to maintain a rapid charging rate. An effective heat removal method is to incorporate a heat exchanger such as a heat pipe within the metal hydride bed. In this paper, we describe a two-dimensional axi-symmetric study to predict the transient heat and mass transfer in a cylindrical metal hydride tank embedded with one or more heat pipes. Results from a parametric study of hydrogen storage efficiency are presented as a function of storage tank size, water jacket temperature and its convective heat transfer coefficient, and heat pipe radius and its convective heat transfer coefficient. The effect of enhancing the thermal conductivity of the metal hydride by adding aluminum foam is also investigated. The study reveals that the cooling water jacket temperature and the heat pipe's heat transfer coefficient are most influential in determining the heat removal rate. The addition of aluminum foam reduces the filling time as expected. For larger tanks, more than one heat pipe is necessary for rapid charging. It was found that using more heat pipes of smaller radii is better than using fewer heat pipes with larger radii. The optimal distribution of multiple heat pipes was also determined and it is shown that their relative position within the tank scales with the tank size.